Vikings look to get better during bye week
Sept. 21, 2005
BELLINGHAM, Wash. -
JOE SUNNEN, THE BELLINGHAM HERALD
The focus for the Western Washington University football program during their bye-week is simple: just get better.
After losing three straight games the last three weeks and starting the season 1-3 overall, the week off couldn't have come at a better time for the Vikings.
"We need to use this week to improve both our health and our execution," WWU coach Rob Smith said. "Hopefully we can come out of this a better football team."
The Vikings open their Great Northwest Athletic Conference schedule on Oct. 1 at Civic Stadium against Humboldt State. But this week is all about the Vikings.
"We're not going to start talking about Humboldt State until next week," Smith said. "Our focus this week is on us. We just have to get better."
The Vikings have played three teams in the NCAA Division II Top-25 the last three weeks and logged nearly 9,000 flying miles during the first month of the season. Early departures, late arrivals and short practice weeks have all taken their toll.
"We've been on a pretty good grind with the travel and the level of competition," Smith said. "We'll get some rest and then get back into our normal game routine on Monday."
The first day of classes at WWU begins today and should come as a welcome change for most of the players on the team. The Vikings reported to fall camp on Aug. 4 and have had football dominate their days for nearly two months.
"We'll see how it goes," sophomore transfer linebacker Shane Simmons said. WWU will not practice today, but will be back on the field Thursday before taking the weekend off. The Vikings will start getting ready for Humboldt State on Monday, Smith said.
"Practice changes for the players once school starts, but I think it changes in a good way," Smith said. "It gives them something other than football to concentrate on. It's tough being around here when it's just football all of the time."
The Vikings also have a good chance at being mostly healthy for next Saturday's GNAC opener. Receivers Andy Olson and Chris Robinson could be back in the lineup and running back Duncan Sherrard should also return.
"Chris is gradually working back in and we expect him to be ready for Humboldt State," Smith said. "Andy is getting better daily and we expect him to be ready for next week, hopefully. Sherrard has been moving around pretty well and he'll definitely be ready for Humboldt State."
For Olson, a preseason All-American who strained the medial collateral ligament in his left knee against St. Cloud State, getting back to field can't come soon enough.
"If I'm lucky I'll be practicing next week," Olson said. "The game against North Dakota was the first game I've ever missed in college or in high school. I've been going a little crazy."
Notes: The Vikings rank 8th nationally in passing offense with 289.7 yards per game and 25th in total offense with 423 yards per game. James Monrean is ranked 7th in the nation in total offense, averaging slightly more than 310 yards per game both passing and rushing. ... Linebacker Tieba Bropleh injured his shoulder in Saturday's loss to North Dakota and could be out three to four weeks. ... Humboldt State leads the GNAC in every defensive team category.
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