Bruins rested, ready following bye

WELLSBURG — Coming off of a bye week and sitting at 0-1 following a Week 1 loss to Wheeling Park, the Brooke Bruins have a tough challenge when they take the field for their home opener on Friday night against the 2-0 University Hawks.

“Now that I’ve got some film on them and have gotten to look at them, they are a pretty good football team,” Brooke head coach Mac McLean said. “They’ve won pretty handily in their first two matchups against very good opponents, and they are everything I imagined they would be with the experience they are bringing back.”

Leading the way for University is senior quarterback Clay Bailey, coming off of an 1,100-plus yard season and 14 touchdowns as a junior, who McLean has become quite familiar with.

“This is my fourth year here, and Bailey has been starting for them for three years, so I feel like I know the kid personally,” he said. “He’s gotten better for them every single year, and he is a legitimate dual threat. He runs the ball, he runs the read-option really, really well and hides the ball. He’s got a stable of receivers, and he’s a very adequate passer when he has to put the ball in the air. With a lot of teams, and University isn’t any different, you’ve got to attack the head of the snake and take care of that quarterback if you’re going to be happy at the end on Friday night.”

In addition to containing Bailey, McLean thinks his team’s ability to win will come down to controlling possession and turning long drives into touchdowns, something they were not able to do against Wheeling Park in the opener.

“We are going to have to keep their offense on the sidelines,” he said. “We are going to try to possess the ball. We are going to try run the clock. The main thing that we have to do that we didn’t do in Week 1 is when we have these long drives, we absolutely have got to have six points at the end of them. We were inside the 50-yard line seven times in the first half against Wheeling Park, and we had zero points to show for it. When we get down there and we get in the red zone, we have got to make those opportunities count.”

Helping that cause will be junior runningback Kenton Conley, who had 36 yards on six carries against Wheeling Park. The Bruins did put up 242 yards of offense in Week 1 despite only putting up six points.

As for how the Bruins have spent the bye, McLean kept the team very actively engaged and even found a few new potential weapons for his club.

“We started early last week just going back to some basic camp things and drills, but there is no substitution for game action, so we managed to mix in a good bit of live scrimmaging,” he said. “We usually don’t do that in practice because we don’t want to risk injuries, but we had to keep the kids going at game speed, and two weeks off just drilling things just wasn’t going to be enough. Last Friday we put our ones against our twos and went at it for a couple of quarters in game situations, and hopefully that will keep us sharp.

“It went well, nobody got hurt. A couple of young guys popped onto the radar last week carrying the ball against our first team defense that might not have otherwise gotten an opportunity to do something like that if we weren’t on a bye. It kept us sharp. We stayed healthy and found a couple of things, so I can’t complain.”

Getting to play at home for the first time this season is something McLean and his team are excited about.

“Everyone is happy to get to play here at Brooke Memorial,” he said. “We are not going to have to get on a bus or deal with restaurants or any of the stuff that goes with traveling to play football. There are people here in the community that haven’t gotten to see us scrimmage or anything yet that are excited to get to come out and see us play for the first time this year.”