Mississippi Bound Warhawks Undaunted by Weather, Travel
The Warhawks held one last practice in Perkins Stadium on Thursday before boarding busses headed to Jackson Mississippi for their first game of the season against Belhaven University on Saturday afternoon.
After three weeks, hours of meetings, and 24 practices, the UW-Whitewater Warhawks are finally going to be playing a football game on Saturday. The team boarded their stylish, purple ladened team buses and left Whitewater between 10 and 11 PM on Thursday night for the 12 hour ride to Jackson, MS to face Belhaven University at 1:00 PM on Saturday.
Head Coach Kevin Bullis said the game will come not a minute too soon. “The fellas are ready. The guys have been hitting each other for a long time and they are itching to play a game to say the least,” Bullis said in a teleconference call this week. Along with the normal first game challenges, the Warhawks will be up against the extraordinarily long overnight bus ride as well as weather that is likely to be hotter and more humid than Wisconsin. Bullis didn’t seem concerned about either
“For whatever reason, our guys travel well. We have been out to New Jersey, we drove to Buffalo State, and several years back we went to Dickenson (North Dakota). The trips are good for team bonding,” Bullis noted. As far as the heat and humidity, the first year head coach felt like the Warhawks have prepared as well as they can. “We are constantly addressing our players about hydration. That mentality has been good preparation for this trip. Having a couple of hotter days last week was good experience as far as some of the persevering and having a good practice in spite of the heat.
“Some people say that they would have the advantage because of the shock of the heat with us coming from the north. But I would argue that we have the advantage because they have to practice in it every single day. But we have to be smart. We have a 12 hour bus ride and traveling can cause dehydration if you are not smart. We will make sure there is plenty of water on the bus and make sure guys are taking advantage of it.”
Waiting on the Warhawks in Jackson will be the Belhaven Blazers, who are coached by veteran Coach Hal Mumme. Mumme is an innovator who is credited with being a prime architect of the spread offense. Last week, the Blazers gained all 466 of their yards through the air, and opted to go for the first down six times in fourth down situations.
“Coach Mumme is an out of the box thinker. They kick multiple offsides. They go for it on fourth down. Their punter doesn’t get a lot of work, let’s put it that way. They will go for it on fourth and 12 on their end of the field. He is a renegade compared to the world we live in the WIAC,” Bullis explained.
Bullis went on to talk a little bit more about his opponent. “They have a freshman quarterback, I believe he is a red-shirt. They are transitioning from NAIA to D-III. He is a very talented young man. Their coach, Hal Mumme, is legendary as a spread offense type guy. When they do run the ball, they run what we call a zone option type play. Their QB is not a big runner. He is a good athlete and he can run, but they are really going to hang their hat on throwing the football and getting as many snaps in as they can during the game. They bring a controlled passing attack. They chuck the ball deep, but they will primarily try to hit intermediate routs, short routes, and screens. We have to be disruptive and not let that young guy chip away at us,” Bullis emphasized.
With the long bus ride, the extreme heat, and an unorthodox opponent, what is the greatest concern for Bullis as he takes his team on the road for the first time as a head coach? “Probably making sure everyone gets on the bus," he laughed. "We have really good players, but if they don’t get on the bus they won’t be much help Saturday.”