After looking within during the bye, UMHB football prepared for second half of season

Above photo of Pete Fredenburg by Russell Marwitz/True To The Cru

BELTON, Texas- The UMHB football team greatly benefited from its first bye week of the season last week, and so did head coach Pete Fredenburg, who noted that he had “one of the best Saturdays” he can remember with an opportunity to witness a phenomenal slate of D-I games. 

Of those contests, one in particular stood out, as unranked Texas A&M took down top-ranked Alabama, snapping the Crimson Tide’s 19-game win streak. 

Fredenburg called the game “amazing”, and was asked about how he saw it, considering that in many cases, the Cru, currently ranked No. 2, enters games heavily favored just as Alabama does. 

“The press conferences with the coaches afterwards mean a lot,” Fredenburg said. “The mental aspect of what we do with our game and players week in and week out, regardless of who the opponent is. It’s so important that you take care of your team and have them prepared to get better every week.”

The Crusaders will not take Texas Lutheran lightly, though the Bulldogs do enter Saturday’s contest with a 1-4 record. TLU’s lone victory of the season came in week two at home against Austin College, a 41-7 win. By comparison, the Cru took down Austin 52-0 prior to the bye week. 

Entering the open date, Fredenburg spoke of his staff’s goals to improve in several areas, notably special teams and with the younger players, as well as giving some of the older players a chance to recover from minor ailments. When asked about it Monday morning, he told reporters that the bye came “at an appropriate time” for the Cru, who are 5-0. 

“We really feel like we got an opportunity to work with some young guys and try to get some of the older guys some rest,” Fredenburg said. “We accomplished that. We also look forward to what we need to get better at, and we feel like we addressed that. The open week, although I don’t like them, certainly came at an appropriate time for us.”

He was asked if, considering the fact that the Crusaders will have not played in 14 days when they take the field Saturday, it will be a challenge to get his team motivated. Fredenburg had no concern about that, however. 

“No, I don’t think it will be hard to get our guys motivated,” Fredenburg told the media. I don’t think anyone was worried about Austin College beating us. The great thing about that game was that we played everybody we had on the bench and it never got sloppy. Everybody was focused in. I really believe, and hope that halftime of Hardin-Simmons was an awakening for our football team.”

Of course, facing an actual opponent brings about enough motivation in itself. Although the open date was key in UMHB’s growth of its JV players, and allowing its older players to rest, Fredenburg noted that he is not particularly a fan of the bye weeks.

“The reason I don’t like open weeks is that it usually means that you have to come up with ways to work out your team without a real focus,” Fredenburg said. “This year we really needed it, because of the weakness at our linebackers [unit], the guys that are injured. I think it will be beneficial for us down the long run.”

The linebackers unit was mentioned by Fredenburg multiple times on Monday. He noted that they “really need to develop some young linebackers” and are bringing two freshmen along. Additionally, fifth-year senior Jacob Mueller is set to be moved from strongside linebacker to weakside linebacker. 

“The one that comes to mind is Jacob Mueller,” Fredenburg said when asked who he has seen make strides recently. “We’re probably going to have to move him from Sam (SLB) to Will (WLB). He and Omari Frazier have both made that transition and done extremely well. We’re excited about them.”

Back into game-prep mode, Fredenburg told the media that the bye week ultimately gave the Cru “an opportunity to look within.” Improving its weaknesses midway through the regular season is something that is certain to pay dividends for UMHB over the season’s next five games and into the playoffs. 

“Obviously we spent a lot of time last week just on us,” Fredenburg said. “We’ve readressed our schedule going into the Texas Lutheran week. We’re heavily involved in breaking down [TLU’s] offense and defense. But what the bye week afforded us was an opportunity to focus within our team and look at places [where] we needed to improve.”

In the Polls

UMHB held its position as the nation’s No. 2 team in both the D3football.com and American Football Coaches Association Top 25 Polls. The Cru received seven-first place votes in the D3football.com poll and were 20 points behind top-ranked North Central.

Riley Zayas serves as the managing editor of True To The Cru and has covered college sports for various media outlets since 2016. He can be contacted at rileyzayas@truetothecru.com

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