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AUSTIN EDITION - Packers realize (better) practice makes perfect

By Guy N. Limbeck

glimbeck@postbulletin.com

It's time for the Austin football team to regroup.

The Packers started out the season on a high note with a 38-6 victory over Winona. But Austin has dropped its past two games, including Saturday night's 21-0 setback to Faribault.

Packers coach Tim Hermann said the team simply must execute better and that starts during the week leading up to games.

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"We have to practice better," Hermann said. "We have one practice that's excellent and one that's poor."

Hermann sent that message to the Packers after the game and he hopes it sinks in.

"We really need to step it up in practice," senior linebacker Chris Tobar said.

The Austin offense has been hampered by turnovers on the season. The Packers have had 13 turnovers in three games, including six against Faribault.

"A couple of big turnovers hurt us," lineman Matt Day said.

Day also said the Packers must be mentally sharp to succeed during the season.

"We just have to get back to practice and start concentrating," he said.

NO POINTS: The Packers were shutout for the first time in the 14 games that Hermann has coached the team.

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"I was surprised by the shutout," Faribault coach Ned Lewis said.

The Packers were blanked for the first time since a 14-0 loss to Owatonna on Sept. 20, 2002.

GROUND TO A HALT: The Falcons shut down Austin's running game. The Packers had just 53 yards on 22 attempts.

Faribault was especially effective in stopping Austin's running backs. Tim Bissen carried 10 times for 11 yards and Marcus Ball had 11 yards on four rushes.

Quarterback Taylor Schieck led the Packers with 31 yards rushing on eight carries. He had 35 yards in the first half.

The Packers had just eight yards rushing on seven attempts in the second half.

PASS ATTACK: With the Packers trailing 14-0 in the fourth quarter, they were forced to pass in an attempt to catch up. Schieck, in his first year as a starter, had career highs for attempts (30), completions (15) and yards (158) in a game. The Packers also dropped four passes in the game.

Tim Bissen had six catches in the game for 61 yards and David Larson caught three passes for 43 yards.

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The Packers missed chances for a couple of big pass plays in the second quarter which could have help turn the momentum. With the score still 0-0, Larson dropped a deep pass. Then in the final minute of the first half, with Faribault up 8-0, Schieck overthrew Josiah Ryks on what would have been a touchdown pass in the throw had been on target.

UP NEXT: The Packers (1-2) will play at winless Mankato East on Friday at 7 p.m. East (0-3) is coming off a 22-13 loss to Rochester John Marshall.

The Packers beat the Cougars 20-6 in Austin a year ago.

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