By JULIE KRIENKE
DULUTH, Minn.- The University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs have broadened its winning streak to seven games after racking up a 49-0 victory against the University of Mary Marauders in the Homecoming football game at Malosky Stadium Oct. 16.
"The Homecoming win was an important win for our team, and I felt we played very well both offensively and defensively," said Bob Nielson, UMD athletic director and head football coach. "I feel good about our season to date, as we have played very consistently."
Despite the absence of senior touchdown leader Isaac Odim from Saturday's roster, the Bulldog offense pulled through by scoring consistently every quarter. Senior running back Brad Foss rushed a total of 121 yards and scored three touchdowns for the Bulldogs, a career high for the 2009 NSIC All-Academic Team member.
"One of the challenges faced in the game was that we were playing for the first time without our All-American running back Isaac Odim," Nielson said. "So, our strategies were to stop their running game and force them to pass, as well as for us to be more balanced with regard to running and passing offensively."
After being informed Saturday morning that Odim would not be seen on the field for the 1 p.m. game, the coaching staff adjusted its offensive and defensive approaches. However, the absence of Odim was not the only challenge seen by the Bulldogs, as Homecoming week can add additional stress to the team's plans, according to Assistant Coach Tyler Yelk.
"One of our biggest challenges did not stem from our opponent, but rather from ourselves and our week of preparation," Yelk said. "Homecoming games add a little more excitement and distractions to the week, and we needed to make sure we prepared the same way we had all year."
After walking away with a huge win over conference rival Winona State a week earlier, the Bulldogs were ready to control the ball on offense and play team defense against the Marauders, Yelk said. With a now 7-0 record, the Bulldogs have continued to pave the way for yet another undefeated regular season.
"We had two consistent team goals during the winter, which were to win a conference title and get back to Florence, Alabama, to win a second National Championship," Yelk said. "The 2010 season has been very rewarding up to this point, as the team has done all the right things to put themselves in the position to win a third straight NSIC Conference Championship and qualify for the NCAA playoffs."