BELTON — Pete Fredenburg has always said he believes a football team makes the most improvement going from the season opener into the second game.
After Mary Hardin-Baylor turned the ball over four times in last week’s 31-13 victory at Redlands (Calif.), the Crusaders’ coach hopes his belief holds true once again.
“The thing that was evident was that we played hard, but there are so many things that we can do better,” Fredenburg said Monday. “Some of it is just fundamentals: our stance, our alignment, the level of our pads and those things. I think we’ll make some big improvements this week.”
Senior quarterback Jake Sims was intercepted twice in the red zone during his first start, and sophomore running back Michael Carpenter fumbled the ball away inside the Redlands 5-yard line.
“One interception was a bad pass and the other one was a bad route. And the fumbles, you just can’t have those kind of mistakes,” Fredenburg said. “If you make those mistakes, you’re going to be over there standing by me. I think our guys realize that.”
Sims is listed as the starter for Saturday’s matchup in New Jersey against Kean (0-1) as fellow senior Brian Gallagher awaits his turn while nursing an ankle injury.
“Jake played within himself. He did a couple of things that the old Jake used to do, and that bothers me some,” Fredenburg said. “Sometimes he used to think he could throw the ball into coverage. He’s trying and learning, and I think he’ll get better and better.”
As for a timetable on Gallagher’s return, the coach couldn’t pinpoint a date.
“The guys were running and lifting (Sunday), and Brian was still hobbled. I don’t know when he’ll be better,” he said. “He has a high ankle sprain and is making very little progress, but he is making some progress.”
New stadium preview
Fredenburg understands that the buzz created by the upcoming opening of Crusader Stadium could be a distraction for his players, and the hype surrounding the Sept. 21 home opener will only grow this week when the university hosts a free open house for the new venue.
From 5 to 8 p.m. Thursday, fans will have a chance to tour the stadium and purchase a Cru Dog, which is being billed as the “signature sandwich of Crusader Stadium.”
“If you ask anybody what’s going on with the football team, the answer is always, ‘Well, the new stadium opens on the 21st,’” Fredenburg said. “Nobody talks about the games we have to play, so we have to be careful that our guys don’t look ahead.”
Few seats remaining
As of Monday, the school said all that remains available for the home opener against No. 5 Wesley (Del.) are some general admission seats on the visitor’s side.
The stadium has a listed capacity of 9,025.
Senior running back Elijah Hudson was named American Southwest Conference Offensive Player of the Week for his performance against Redlands.
Hudson ran for a career-high 184 yards and a touchdown, and he had three catches for 60 yards for a total of 244 all-purpose yards.
Around the ASC
UMHB, which dropped a spot to No. 4 in the d3football.com poll, and Louisiana College — a 38-7 winner over Belhaven (Miss.) — were the only ASC members to post victories on the first weekend of the season.
Among the defeats suffered by league teams were Hardin-Simmons’ 64-34 loss to Willamette (Wash.) and Mississippi College’s 52-19 loss to Millsaps (Miss.).