Northwood brings an undefeated mark and a run-heavy offense into Frost-Kalnow Stadium today, hoping to spoil Tiffin University's Homecoming game.
The Timberwolves, led by coach Mike Sullivan, average about 115 passing yards a contest. But just because they like to run the ball doesn't mean they are not dynamic. They piled up 49 points in last week's win at Notre Dame College, and two weeks prior to that, racked up 54 points in a win over Quincy.
Northwood's commitment to the run is nothing new. But what is different is its formation. Quarterback Aaron Shavers is taking his snaps from the shotgun this season.
"They're still doing some zone-reed, but they're not full out Wing-T like they were," Tiffin coach Gary Goff said.
The Timberwolves' are led on the ground by running back Cameron Jackson, who is averaging almost 84 yards a game and has scored five touchdowns.
But it doesn't end there. Jordan Jonkers has rushed for 65 yards a game, Shavers for 58.
"It is different, because it's out of the spread offense," Goff said.
It presents a challenge for the TU defense.
"You've got to play assignment football," Goff said. "We need to stop the big play; don't give them the big play. But there's no secret what they do. They like running the ball, and Shaver is an electric player. He can take that thing the distance at any second from anywhere on the field."
Defensively, Northwood has been opportunistic. It picked off a pair of passes last week against Notre Dame, and forced a fumble.
"We've got to protect the football, but we had great drives last week. We had a 14-play drive, a 10-play drive," Goff said. "We've got to finish drives. We get down there to the Red Zone, we've got to get down there and get some points."
The Dragons lost to Grand Valley State last week, 28-0. But they had 313 yards of total offense, fueled by a breakout game by running back Dominique White, an Eastern Michigan transfer who ran for 164 yards.
"(Northwood's) a lot better program than they were a year ago; I think we are, too," Goff said. "Should be a good test for both sides."
It's also Homecoming week at TU. Goff was asked if he expects it to be a distraction for a team looking for its first GLIAC win in since 2008.
"We've had a great week of practice," Goff said. "I think they're excited. Homecoming weekend you're always going to have your guys excited. You worry there's a lot of distractions that go on during that week, but again, from the type of game we played a week ago, I think our guys are starting to understand that if we fight hard for four quarters, and we're the team that we keep talking about we want to be, that we can beat anybody on any given weekend."
Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m.