Minnesota State University-Mankato senior receiver Adam Thielen said the arrest of head coach Todd Hoffner on two counts of child pornography (see story at right) won't affect the Mavericks heading into their opener Thursday at Minot State University.
"The coaches have done a great job of keeping us really focused on football," Thielen said. "We don't expect it to affect us in any way."
Hoffner has been placed on leave by the university, and offensive coordinator Aaron Keen is serving as active head coach.
Minnesota State University-Mankato senior receiver Adam Thielen runs down the sideline in a game last season. The Mavericks play Minot State University at 6 p.m. Thursday at Herb Parker Stadium. Photo courtesy of Minnesota State-Mankato Athletics.
"To some extent, having to come out to practice every day and have training camp has been a welcome distraction," Keen said. "Our players are very resilient and they've come out to practice every day ready to make themselves better."
The Mavericks lost just seven seniors from a team that went 9-3 last season. They were picked to win the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference South Division by the league's coaches, and third overall in the conference.
Keen said switching coaches less than two weeks before the season opener shouldn't be a problem for Mankato.
"One of the benefits of the structure of football is you really have the entire camp planned out," Keen said. "And (the players) done a good job of sticking to the plan."
The Mavericks' plan against Minot State, as it is against every opponent, is to establish the run.
"When we're at our best, we're fairly balanced offensively," Keen said. "We're gonna distribute the ball fairly evenly in the run game and the pass game, but we make our money in the run game, and that's something our program prides itself in."
Sophomore running back Andy Pfeiffer rushed for 1,264 yards last season.
"I wouldn't say he's a burner," Keen said. "He's got decent speed. He's great at dissecting a defense and picking and choosing his holes, running very patiently. Before you know it, he's got 100 yards. He's one of those under-the-radar guys, not real flashy."
Junior Chris Schaudt, a 6-foot-4, 270-pound defensive end who earned all-NSIC honors last season, anchors the Mavericks' defensive line.
The Mavericks will play a new quarterback against the Beavers - sort of. Junior Jon Wolf split time as a running back, wideout and quarterback last season.
"I think that helps that he has that experience," Thielen said, "and then all spring ball and all fall he got to play quarterback. We're all excited to get out there and see what he can do."
Thursday will mark the first meeting between Minot State and Mankato. Keen said the unfamiliarity between the teams will be even greater as it'll be each team's first game of the season.
"I think whoever you play week one there's gonna be different in-game adjustments during the game," Keen said. "It becomes even more crucial in week one when you know a little less about the new guys on the other teams and how they might've adjusted their schemes to fit those guys in."