OSHKOSH - The 9th ranked UW-Oshkosh football team hosts Alma Saturday in its home opener. The Titans return 22 seniors from last year's WIAC championship squad that advanced to the Division III final four. Head Coach Pat Cerroni has placed the Titans fate in the seniors’ hands.
“This team is run by them. I just sit back and manage the whole thing and the coaches. Their success is going to be dependent on them 100 percent and they know it and I preach it every day.”
UWO features 14 seniors on offense including quarterback Nick Olla who has the unenviable task of replacing All-American Nate Wara. Olla's thrown for over 500 yards but also 5 interceptions during the Titans 2-0 start. While Coach Cerroni would like to see his started improve after turning the ball over six times in two games, he understands that there’s a learning curve.
“It's hard to play that position especially in this offense. Hopefully this bye week helped him out a little bit but I really believe it's just going to be games,” Cerroni said.
Running back Cole Myhra says Olla’s teammates are steadfast in supporting their quarterback. “Nick's a very smart guy. I like to compare him to a Peyton Manning type. He's going to prepare so much that he's over prepared. He's a great kid. He's extremely smart and we've got great trust in him,” Myhra said.
UW-Oshkosh has continued to be the kings of the comeback. They showed it last year in their run to the national semifinals. And their two victories this season are both of the come from behind variety. They were down at halftime in week one to Central College from Iowa. During their week two win over Marian of Indiana, the reigning NAIA champ, they trailed until late in the second quarter.
“We know when our offense gets going that it's going to get going and we know that it's going to happen once we make adjustments so we don't panic we know we're going to figure it out. It's just a matter or when,” Myhra said.
That mind set rings true for the defensive players as well according to linebacker Ryan Stefaniak. “It's not a good habit but we're definitely a second half team. We proved that a little bit in the playoffs last year and we know it's a four quarter game so we're never out of the game,” Stefaniak said.
These kids are just pretty resilient right now. It's a good thing and we're happy about it but we're not that happy about it, coach Cerroni said.
As thrilling as come from behind victories are for fans, come Saturday the players and coaches wouldn't mind delivering a rout for the home crowd.
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