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Room to grow in run game

Thomas Russell (25), a UNK running back, looks to cut back as the Lopers played Missouri Western State, Aug. 31, 2017 (KHGI)

It's only a week into the season, so the sample size is extremely small, yet UNK's run game still has a lot of room for improvement.

The Lopers garnered 120 yards on the ground against Missouri Western State at an average of three yards per carry.

"We're running the same plays, but we're just running them with different looks," said running back Thomas Russell, who accounted for 72 yards on 24 carries versus Missouri Western State. "Obviously we're running the 4–1 differently and we're practicing our different types of blocks with our cruisers and just reading what our reads are."

There could be more on the horizon, though, as Emporia State was tagged up for 183.0 yards from the Northwest Missouri State ground game, and the Lopers aren't backing away from their plans to keep pounding the rock anytime soon.

"We've always kind of known we were going to be a run team and kind of open up the play book later. It starts up front with us and I think just being aggressive and establishing that line has been our mentality and it doesn't matter who we're going up against," said junior center, David Squiers.

"A lot of what we do has some type of read component and whether we give it at the quarterback position or whether we keep it we want to keep either that illusion or that reality as part of the play," assistant coach Kevin Bliel says. "Hopefully we can draw defenders with that."

The Hornets were tagged up for 503 yards against the No. 1 Bearcats in a 34–0 loss in the opener.

It's another Thursday night affair for UNK, traveling to Emporia State for a 7 p.m. CT start.

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