Football Focused On Thursday's Season Opener
DES MOINES, Iowa – The Drake University football team put three weeks of grueling preseason scrimmages in the rear-view mirror this week as the Bulldogs turned their focus completely toward Thursday’s home opener against Grand View. Kickoff against the crosstown opponent is scheduled for 7 p.m. inside venerable Drake Stadium.
“Starting this week, all of our attention is on Grand View,” head coach Chris Creighton said of the shift in the mindset of practices this past week.
That shift is evident to the veteran players who can feel the team’s spirits reach a new level with the season opener less than a week away.
“Going through camp for three weeks is grueling with long hours and its tiring,” said fifth-year senior wide receiver Nick Rosa. “Coming into game week everyone starts feeling a little better and all those aches and pains go away with the excitement of playing someone else.”
Thursday will mark the fourth time the two programs – whose campuses are separated by just four miles – have met on the gridiron with Drake prevailing in the previous three outings. Last season, the Bulldogs opened their championship season with a 28-8 win over the Vikings in which they racked up 425 yards of total offense.
The Bulldogs are eager for a similar result, but also to finally have the chance to face an opponent after three weeks of practices and intrasquad scrimmages.
“It [practice] definitely has a different feel to it and we’re going to be playing a color other than blue and white,” Creighton said. “We’ve had really good games with these guys over the years and they have a very good team. There’s definitely a heightened sense of purpose. Our guys know that it’s game week and we need to get into our routine. You can sense that guys know that this is the start of it.”
Following Saturday’s light walkthrough and workout, the Bulldogs will engage in a few physical days of practice before returning to their mental and psychological preparation for their opponent later in the game week. Part of that preparation falls on the veterans as they work to mentally focus the team’s younger players, many who will be playing in their first collegiate game.
“We try to do everything we can to prepare them for the game,” said Rosa, who caught a touchdown pass against Grand View last season. “It’s a completely different ballgame when you get out there and are playing a different opponent. We try to go over every play and the different scenarios so they’re ready when they get in there.”
Reliance on those younger players may be minimal as the squad returns nine all-PFL performers this season, including a staggering six on defense. Of the 24 Bulldogs listed on the defensive depth chart 21 are upperclassmen and 17 saw significant playing time in 2012. On offense the team returns three all-PFL selections, plus its top receiver, Rosa, and rusher, Gary Scott, Jr., from 2012.
Following Thursday’s game, the Bulldogs will have a long week to prepare for another in-state opponent in UNI. Drake travels to Cedar Falls to face the Panthers on Sept. 7.
Season tickets and single-game tickets for Thursday’s opener are available by clicking here.