October 29, 2010

McGee makes Adrian better

More news about: Adrian

Over four seasons at Adrian, senior quarterback Mike McGee has worked hard to improve his skills, involve more players in the offense and continue putting points on the scoreboard.

In last week’s 58-31 win over the Kalamazoo Hornets, McGee completed 21-of-31 passes for 310 yards and tied the school record with five touchdowns. For his efforts, McGee was honored as the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association Offensive Player of the Week.

“Right now, Mike’s playing very poised,” said Adrian coach Jim Deere. “He’s not making very many mistakes and is seeing the field very well. He does have a great arm, so he’s doing a great job.

“He just made all the right decisions, was very, very careful with the football. He threw it up the field well, to the sidelines well,” Deere added. “He didn’t make any mistakes. That’s the one thing he’s done pretty much all year long, which has made us a pretty good passing team.”

After struggling during the 2008 season, having completed just 56-of-92 passes for 865 yards and three touchdowns against four interceptions, McGee responded with a solid 2009 campaign. He completed 143-of-240 passes for 1,939 yards and 15 touchdowns against nine interceptions.

He was in the top five among MIAA quarterbacks in passer efficiency rating, passing yards-per-game and total offense. McGee also passed for more than 300 yards in three games, including a career-high and school-record 386 on 27 completions against Kalamazoo.

In his final season with the Bulldogs, McGee has completed 110 of 172 passes through seven games. He has thrown 13 touchdowns against two interceptions and averages 203.1 passing yards per game.

Mitch Gabriele leads the way with 501 yards and five touchdowns on 33 receptions, while Justin Hemm, who also has five scores, has gained 430 yards on 29 catches.

“We do have a young, explosive wide receiver crew with Mitch,” Deere said. “He’s only a sophomore and he’s been doing a great job, has great hands, great routes, fights for the football and has a lot of speed. Kyle Timmis, who’s basically a red-shirt freshman, has a lot of speed, as does Justin Hemm. With two sophomores and a freshman, you’ve got to love those guys. They’re very explosive.”

Adrian’s offense has an added weapon in junior running back Jared Edwards.

He has gained 707 yards and scored three touchdowns on 130 carries. He averages 101.0 yards per game and 5.4 yards per carry.

Out of the backfield, Edwards has 14 catches for 153 yards and one touchdown. A key contributor on special teams, Edwards has returned seven kicks for 160 yards (22.9 yards per return) and three punts for 33 yards (11.0 yards per return).

“Jared Edwards is a special athlete for us, very explosive, great hips and he’s got some straight-away speed when he gets into the open field,” Deere said. “You’ve got to account for him, that’s for sure.

“Mike’s throwing the ball well and it’s the running game that sets it up,” he continued. “We’re going to continue to try to run the football, it just might be out of various sets. Early in the year, we went with a lot of two-back sets and now, we’re kind of letting Mike go a little bit and doing some one-back sets and being able to use Jared Edwards and getting him in space.

“If you want to be able to compete late in the year, you’ve got to be able to run the football as the weather changes,” he added. “Our plan is, we’re going to do what we’ve got to do to get things done, but we want to establish a running game first. The last couple weeks, we’ve been doing a good job of preparing for our opponents and I expect our offensive coordinator (Tyler Haines) and the rest of our offensive staff to continue to do that week-in and week-out.”

The key for Adrian to continue improving as a team and getting in the MIAA title picture in future seasons once McGee graduates is developing consistency and trust within the program.

“This year, getting a new offense and putting it together, working through some of the growing pains early, we’ll know after the next three games to see how that’s jelled and continue to improve on that,” he said. “The titles will take care of themselves. We’ve just got to play consistent, develop our identity and get the kids believing and buying into it.”

News and Notes
Carnegie Mellon forced the Wittenberg Tigers to overtime before the North Coast Athletic Conference front-runners pulled away 27-21. Stopping the running game proved to be difficult for the Tigers as three different Tartan rushers were effective.

Justin Pratt led the way with 137 yards and one touchdown on 33 carries. Jake Nardone netted 89 yards and a game-high two rushing touchdowns, while Patrick Blanks added 88 yards on 16 carries. All three running backs averaged more than 4.1 yards per carry and two averaged better than 5.0.

With 113 yards and two touchdowns last week, Wittenberg junior wide receiver Josh McKee became the school’s single-season touchdowns and receiving yards leader. He has 14 touchdowns and 1,107 receiving yards with three regular season games left to play.

Wittenberg’s starting middle linebacker, senior Brad McKinley, registered 22 total tackles in the win.

Washington and Jefferson sophomore running back Tim McNerney rushed for more than 100 yards for the third straight week in the team’s 22-16 win over the Geneva Golden Tornadoes. He gained 107 yards and scored two touchdowns on 24 carries.

Germany Woods, a freshman running back at Heidelberg, rushed for 231 yards and four touchdowns in the Student Princes’ 49-26 victory against Marietta. He tied Heidelberg’s single-game touchdowns record, a mark that was set during the 1999 season.

Great Lakes Region Teams in D3football.com’s Top 25 Poll This Week
No. 2 Mount Union (OAC): No change following a 38-0 win over Capital

No. 9 Wittenberg (NCAC): Down two spots after a 27-21 overtime victory at Carnegie Mellon

No. 10 Thomas More (PAC): No change following a 48-14 win at Bethany

No. 11 Ohio Northern (OAC): No change after a 35-14 victory over John Carroll

No. 15 Trine (MIAA): No change following a 31-10 win at Hope

Others Receiving Votes: Wabash (NCAC) Case Western Reserve (UAA) and Baldwin-Wallace (OAC)

This Week’s NCAA North Region Rankings:
1. Wheaton (College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin)
2. North Central (CCIW)
3. Mount Union (Ohio Athletic Conference)
4. Ohio Northern (OAC)
5. Case Western Reserve (University Athletic Association)
6. Trine (MIAA)
7. Baldwin-Wallace (OAC)

8. Franklin (Heartland College Athletic Conference)
9. Wittenberg (NCAC)
10. Wabash (NCAC)

Games of the Week: Allegheny (5-2, 3-1 NCAC) at Wabash (6-1, 4-0), Saturday, 1 p.m.: The Wabash Little Giants enter Saturday’s game with the Gators with the hope of staying undefeated in conference play and running the table for another North Coast Athletic Conference title. However, if the Little Giants look ahead to their matchup with Wittenberg next weekend, Allegheny has the offensive weapons to put the second blemish on Wabash’s record this season.

Adrian (3-4, 2-1 MIAA) at Albion (4-4, 3-1), Saturday, 1 p.m.: Sole possession of second place in the race for the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association is on the line and it is an important game for both teams. With only one loss in MIAA play, the winner of this game will be able to keep pace with front-running Trine in their quest for the conference’s automatic NCAA Tournament berth.

Joe Sager

Joe Sager is a freelance writer based in Pittsburgh. He has written about sports since 1996 for a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites. He first covered D-III football in 2000 with the New Castle (Pa.) News.

2012-14 columnist: Brian Lester
2011 columnist: Dean Jackson
2007-10 columnist: Matt Florjancic

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