‘It’s always going to be a priority’

Minot State football focused on improving running game entering Week 3

Garrick Hodge/MDN Minot State running back Hayden Van Winkle (30) takes a handoff during a college football game Saturday at Herb Parker Stadium in Minot.

Two games into the 2017 season, the running game hasn’t been what Minot State football was hoping for.

The Beavers have averaged 61.5 running yards per contest, racking up 64 rushing yards in Week 1 and 59 in Week 2.

Against Augustana Saturday, MSU averaged 2.2 yards per carry (on 27 total carries) as a team, forcing them to throw the ball 37 times for 275 yards.

“Obviously we want to be more productive in the run game,” MSU coach Mike Aldrich said. “I think we did some good things on Saturday and were really close on a couple of runs. But to go from really close to productive in what we’re trying to get some of those 10 yard runs, we need to look at why that didn’t happen. Maybe it was a missed block here or we didn’t seal a block here, then let it take care of itself.”

Senior running back Larry Overstreet received most of the carries in Week 1 against Concordia, rushing 18 times for 55 yards. Freshman running back Hayden Van Winkle earned the start Saturday, rushing for 53 yards on 19 carries.

“I think (Hayden’s) productivity was pretty similar to Larry’s in regards to carries and yardage,” Aldrich said. “I think both of them offer two different skillsets. Obviously, a true freshman making his first collegiate start is going to have some jitters as he goes through there, but he’s a true, tough Montana kid and has some breakaway speed. We also have to work on becoming better blockers but I thought we turned a huge corner in our offensive line from Week 1 to Week 2.”

Aldrich said he’s confident MSU will see improvement in the ground game throughout the season and hopes it comes as soon as Saturday in a road contest against Southwest Minnesota State University.

“It’s always going to be a priority that we want to establish the run,” he said. “We never want to abandon it and we want to keep chipping away at it. It’s easy when you don’t have early success to get away from it and become a one-dimensional team. But my true belief is to have success as a football team, you have to run the football and defend the run. If you can’t do either one of those, you’re going to struggle. We’re working towards that, I want us to be able to control the clock and run the football successfully.”

Garrick Hodge covers Minot State athletics, the Minot Minotauros and high school sports. Follow him on Twitter @Garrick_Hodge.