Coaching college football can be so rewarding, and coaching college football can be so demoralizing. The Griffons just wrapped up a season in which they went 4-7 — their worst record since going 5-6 in 2004.
The man who has run the football program at Missouri Western for 20 years now, even after one of his worst seasons in 12 years still sits calm and collected.
But the Missouri Western program has been in a slow, but real, downward spiral since winning the MIAA championship in 2012. In 2013 they won eight games; seven games in 2014 and six games last season.
In previous seasons it was the Griffons’ offense that sat somewhere around the middle of the MIAA in scoring and their defense that finished top-three in the conference. Since losing defensive coordinator Wes Bell, the defense has statistically gotten worse. In fairness, this is a defense that lost one of it’s best lineman, linebackers and two corners who found themselves in the NFL. That is a lot of talent that has to be replaced.
The hard part about being Western is your neighbors to the north. The Bearcats have finished in the top three in offense the last four years and were number one in defense in three of the last four years. Good programs find ways to reload and not rebuild.
This is not to say that the football program here at Western has failed or that Partridge’s time here at Western has run out–but going into next season they have to get back to competing with the top of the MIAA.
The school has provided their athletic programs with the state-of-the-art facilities (somewhere in the area of $30 million) needed to bring in some of the best athletes in the Midwest.
There is room for hope for the 2017 Griffons. The team returns one of the best running backs in Division II football. Josh Caldwell finished seventh in the country with over 1,400 yards rushing and two touchdowns. Also returning will be quarterback Skylar Windmiller, who was on pace for over 2,500 yards passing. These are two guys who can help your offense score 35 points per game and two guys who can lead your offense each and every week.
The flip side to 2017 is — who will be coaching the defense? Can a defense that allowed 273 yards passing per game improve? There is talent on all levels of this defense and they will all be a year older and more experienced. Partridge and company will add depth that they showed a lack of this past season.
Also, can this team find someone who can kick the damn ball through the uprights?