On the Sidelines: Leathernecks look to soar past Hawks - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

On the Sidelines: Leathernecks look to soar past Hawks

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Nikko Watson and Western Illinois look for a 2-0 start when they host Quincy University on Saturday. Nikko Watson and Western Illinois look for a 2-0 start when they host Quincy University on Saturday.

MACOMB, Ill. (WGEM) -- With season opening success in its back pocket Western Illinois turns the focus to week two and the constant drive to improve.

"We're getting better day by day. We know it's going to be a process for us to get to where we want to be," running back Nikko Watson said. 

"Right now we're patient. We know as long as we go in the right direction everything is going to be fine."

Western welcomes Quincy University to Hanson Field this weekend.

It's the 13th meeting in a series that dates back nearly a century, and while the Leathernecks already have a game to their credit Saturday's contest will be the first for the Hawks."

"The advantages of not playing is that obviously you're healthy and had that extra week of preparation," head coach Bob Nielson noted. 

"(QU) had a chance to see us play and through that it helps them in their preparation. The advantage of having played is you get to work through some things in live action that you just can't do in practice."

It's no secret Western is in search of a better effort offensively.

There was plenty to like in the 33-point win over Hampton, but the Leathernecks only out-gained their opening night foe by 15 yards and converted just 6-of-17 third down tries.

"We've got to be a much more productive offense," Nielson said. 

"We need to be better at distributing the football, and I think we can be that team."

According to Watson, "Somebody's got to make that play on third down when their number is called to make that first down. It just takes practice, if we do it perfect at practice it should correlate to the game."

With trips to Minnesota and UNLV forthcoming, and conference play only three weeks away, it's imperative Western takes another step forward with its grueling schedule on the horizon.

"You've always got to communicate every single week," defensive end Ethan Bachinski said. 

"You've got to practice perfectly in order to have a great game and for everything to fall in place."

Nielson says the biggest game is the always the next one on the schedule. 

"The importance of this game and the importance of each day for our football team is something we've talked about from day one," Nielson explained. 

"In my opinion this is the most important game of the year."

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