An 0-3 start clearly is not what Tiffin University coach Gary Goff had hoped for, but the third-year mentor said his squad hasn't lost confidence.
"We're still very positive here," Goff said of his Dragons, who travel to take on 1-2 Northwood at noon today. "We know we're better. We've just got to go out there on the field and prove it on Saturday. We got a lot of guys playing who've got to step up for us and make plays."
Goff didn't tip his hand at who will be making plays at quarterback, at least to begin today's tilt. Joey Frendo has started all three games for TU, but it was backup Antonio Pipkin who helped spark the offense in last week's loss to Grand Valley State.
"We've got both guys in the game plan," Goff said. "We'll kinda see how the game unfolds."
One thing Goff is expecting from the Timberwolves is a heavy dose of the run game. Cameron Jackson has stood out at running back in the past for Northwood, and he returns. There also is Glenn Winston, a Michigan State transfer who has 280 yards rushing and seven touchdowns in three games.
Stopping the running game was a problem for TU last week, and Goff said there needs to be improvement there.
"We need our linebackers to play well," Goff said. "They didn't play well last week against Grand Valley State. We gave up too many big plays in the secondary because they had the running game going."
Still, Goff was heartened by how Tiffin finished the game against the No. 8 Lakers. Pipkin led TU to 17 unanswered points before the Dragons fell 42-17.
"The challenge all week is 'Guys, if we play like we're capable of, we can play with anybody, including the No. 8 team in the country," Goff said.
The key may be how well TU can exploit the Timberwolves defense, which has allowed 42 points or more in two of the season's three games.
Goff said Northwood favors a 4-2 front, and plays plenty of cover 3.
"They took away a lot of our 3-step [passing last year]," Goff said. "And I expect them to do a lot of the same things this year."
But the coach did say this isn't quite the same defense the Dragons saw a season ago.
"They lost a few players from a year ago on defense. But they've done a great job recruiting," he said of Northwood.