HOUGHTON - The Michigan Tech football team has never played Walsh, but the Huskies have a pretty good idea of what to expect when they visit the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference newcomer from Ohio.
"They're very sound and they're very, very similar to what we were when I was (coaching) at Central Michigan in the mid- to late-'80s," Tech coach Tom Kearly said. "The package where I grew up in football is very similar to what they run, offensively and defensively, so I guess I'm partial to it."
Forget the spread offense Tiffin ran last week against the Huskies.
Walsh will run the classic Pro and Pro-I formation offense, utilizing a fullback about 80 percent of the time and running the sweep in the running game, and frequently using play action in the passing game.
Defensively, the Cavaliers will likely shift their defensive line around, utilize a lot of cover three and tackle well in space.
Since the Huskies have a gameplan in place, partially using film from Walsh's 28-16 loss to Northwood last week, the key to improving to 2-0 overall and in the GLIAC will be execution.
"We have to improve as a football team," Kearly said. "The more you watch the film, the more you realize there's a lot of things we didn't do real well (in last Saturday's 51-15 win over Tiffin). We were fortunate and got off to a good start, some things kind of went our way, but we know that's not going to happen every time."
Poor blocking prevented what could have turned into big running plays last week on offense, and the Husky D still allowed too many big plays because of bad positioning in the defensive backfield or bad containment along the defensive line. Walsh will be more of a running team than Tiffin, which should play to Tech's defensive strength in its D-line.
"(Walsh) is going to come out and run it, come off the ball," defensive tackle and team captain Jake Clark said. "They have a solid O-line. From a defensive standpoint we're going to do our base technique, which is get off the ball, get into them physically with a hard-nosed defensive line and be ready for play action with solid coverage behind us."
While one game is a very small sample size, and Kearly said team statistics have little meaning until at least a month into the season, Tech ranks second in the NCAA Division II in rushing defense with the 7 rushing yards they allowed to Tiffin. Walsh tailbacks Toba Olarewaju (who also has an 86-yard kick return touchdown this season) and George Walker, who have each surpassed 100 yards on the ground so far, will assuredly rush the ball better than Tiffin.
Offensively, it's no secret Tech wants to run the ball as well, and after last week the Huskies feel like they have four running backs who can deliver results.
"All four of them are awesome back there, so we trust them to get it done," senior offensive lineman and team captain Chris Mullen said. "We're looking at just trying to run the ball and chew up the clock like a Michigan Tech offense does, and take our shots when we get it.
"They seem like a sound team, so as long as we execute and everyone does their job on offense I think we should be good."
The Huskies departed on their longest trip of the season Thursday afternoon, stopping overnight in Clare. Today they'll drive the rest of the way to Ohio before getting in a walkthrough practice in preparation for Saturday's noon kickoff against Walsh (1-1, 0-1 GLIAC).