MACOMB, Ill. (WGEM) -- Mark Hendrickson is pleased but not overjoyed.
"We're on schedule thus far but we also have a long ways to go to get this team to where we want them to be," the Western Illinois head coach said of his team's 2-0 start.
Beating the likes of Butler and Indianapolis was good, but knocking off Iowa State would be a lot better.
For the Leathernecks it's sure to be an uphill battle Saturday but they're out to prove they can hang with a Big 12 opponent.
"Now around college football the playing fields and the talent pools are leveling out a little bit as everyone is kind of seeing," senior receiver Justin Morgan explained.
"Everyone is hyped up for this game and there's no doubters."
According to junior defensive lineman Ethan Bachinski, "You want to prove that we're also a Division I school even though they're (FBS) and we're (FCS). You want to prove that we belong here and that we can stick with the big dogs."
Western's defense is sure to have its hands full not only this week but the rest of the season.
Head coach Mark Hendrickson announced this week injured senior defensive backs Chris Boone and Keith Enderlein, as well as senior linebacker Tyler West, will all miss the rest of the season.
"When you take three starters out of your 11 it makes you a little nervous," Hendrickson admitted.
"However, the backup's responded very well this past Saturday in game two."
Bachinski says everyone else has to pick up the slack.
"Execution is key. You've just got to be mentally sound and you can't give up big plays and make mental errors."
The goal in Ames for the Leatherneck offense is long drives and controlling the time of possession. They would also like to see a more steady effort in the passing game.
"I'm glad we've been able to rush the ball we have. As we continue we'll be able to need to throw the ball consistently, more consistently than we have," Hendrickson noted.
Western would also like to win.
And to do that, it will likely take a spotless performance.
"Everyone is one edge and just super excited to play," Bachinski said. "This week especially we're preparing like any other game."
Morgan added: "It's fine being the underdog. I have no problem with that because maybe the other team is not going to be expecting what you're going to give them."
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