ASHLAND — Lee Owens wasn’t initially thrilled about Ashland University’s Week 3 bye, but the veteran coach changed his tune after battling two Top 10 teams during the first two weeks of the season.
“As we look at it now, I think we’re all kind of glad that we do have that extra week,” Owens said after the Eagles fell to No. 2 Ferris State on Sept. 11. “I don’t know if anybody in the country in Division II played the opening schedule we did. I would think not.
“It was a test, no question. We were able to tell a lot about our team and grow. But being off, you kind of push the reset button.”
The off week wasn’t spent so much on preparing for Quincy. Instead, the Eagles (0-2) got reacquainted with themselves in advance of Saturday’s 1 p.m. kickoff at Jack Miller Stadium.
“What we needed to do in the off week was go back and study the Eagles,” Owens said. “We spent a lot of time finding those things we need to do better and find those things we’re doing well and find a way to do them more often.
“The good things about playing two teams that are really talented … is you can’t hide anything. We knew exactly where our weaknesses were after two weeks.”
Quincy (2-1) is coming off a 38-17 win over Walsh. Quarterback Tionne Harris threw for 343 yards and four touchdowns, but was sacked five times in the victory. Receiver A.J. Hardin had seven catches for 188 yards and two touchdowns, including an 83-yarder early in the first quarter, and fellow wideout Eugene Witherspoon had three grabs for 71 yards and two scores.
AU quarterback Austin Brenner has completed 35-of-61 passes for 514 yards and two touchdowns. The junior from Copley is also the Eagles’ leading rusher with 168 yards and three touchdowns on 26 carries.
“Right now, he’s our offense,” Owens said. “We really don’t have designed runs for him, but a lot of times it just happens because of the way (opposing defenses) are playing and the coverage they’re playing.”
Tailback Gei’vonni Washington has rushed for 144 yards and a touchdown. Washington managed just 52 yards on 19 carries against Ferris State’s rugged defense.
“We have to get more than Geo involved at running back. We have a couple really good backs who haven’t played a lot in Larry Martin and Eli Potts,” Owens said. “If we can take a little of the load off Geo, so we’re not expecting him to do too much … we need to do a little better job of playing different personnel at the tailback position.”
While an 0-2 start isn’t ideal, recent history suggests the season is far from over. In 2008, the Eagles dropped their first two games before winning six straight en route to a playoff berth and the first postseason victory in program history.
“I actually mentioned that 2008 team in the locker room one time last week,” Owens said. “They’re all must-wins now, if we have any hopes of postseason.
"I think you’re going to have to go through this league undefeated to be a champion, so any preseason goals that we had … that’s not going to happen if we lose another game.”