By RICK PETERSON
Washburn University freshman quarterback Sam Van Dyne envisioned easing into his college football career while learning from Ichabod veteran Kellen Simoncic.
But all that changed in last week's home-opener against Missouri Southern when Simoncic went down with a season-ending broken collarbone that required surgery.
And suddenly, in just the second game of his college career, the Ichabod offense was Van Dyne's to run.
"You hate to see a teammate get hurt, but Kellen went down and I'm standing right there and coach goes, 'Kellen's shoulder's messed up,' and I was like, 'Alright, I guess we're doing this,' '' said Van Dyne, a 6-3, 210-pounder out of Liberty North, Mo. "I went and got warmed up and went in and got hit, then I was good. I just had to kind of get the jitters out.''
Van Dyne, who will make his first college start in Saturday's 6 p.m. non-conference game at Lincoln, said he and the WU offense have just been working on making sure they're on the same page in the nine days since a 30-23 loss to Southern.
"It's a little different when you go from high school, where you've been running the same offense for like four or five years,'' Van Dyne said. "You're running a completely new offense, so you're still on the learning curve a little bit and it's not where it's second nature yet.
"We've got a lot young players, so really this week we've been working on getting the signals in and getting lined up properly and things like that because we had a couple of penalties last week for not being lined up properly and not running the right play, things like that.''
But Van Dyne expects to be a lot more at ease in Saturday's game at Lincoln and said he's ready to go.
"Football's football at the end of the day,'' he said. "It's 11 guys on each team and you're trying to score, they're trying to stop you. Really there's not much more to it than that. There's more than goes into it, but that's kind of how I ike to look at it.''
Van Dyne completed 9 of 17 passes for 61 yards against Missouri Southern and the Ichabods were driving for a potential game-tying touchdown late in the game when the Lions picked off a Van Dyne pass on a tipped ball.
"I feel like I played pretty good,'' Van Dyne said. "I missed some things but I kind of expected that to happen. It's a little faster than high school, definitely, but I got the ball to our playmakers a good amount.''
Since the Southern game Van Dyne has had a full week of practice, which he feels will help him Saturday night at Lincoln.
"It's been helpful, especially with the offensive line,'' he said. "People don't really realize it, but the blocking's different person to person, so it takes some getting used to with blocking movements and things like that. I feel a lot more comfortable.''
Van Dyne said the main, and only priority in Saturday's game is to get in the win column after an 0-2 start to the season.
"We would have liked to have got it last week but I threw it away there at the end,'' Van Dyne said. "We just need to get back on the right track and once we get in the win column we'll be good.''
Washburn coach Craig Schurig gave Van Dyne good reviews for his performance against the Lions.
"I thought he did a great job,'' Schurig said. "Once we got in at halftime and came back out he was very poised, very accurate, very talented. And now all the practice is his where he was getting about a third of the reps before.
"He's made to be a quarterback and now we've got to rally around him and those guys have to step up and make plays.''
Simoncic was one of several Ichabod frontliners that suffered injuries against Southern, with junior safety Jordan Finnesy, junior running back Tyler Bowden and sophomore defensive end Phoenix Smith leaving the game in the first half. All but Simoncic are expected to be able to return to action in the coming weeks.
"It was crazy,'' Schurig said. "At first it was Finnesy and he's the captain of the defense, and then it just kept happening. It was very weird that way. I don't know if we've had a game where it all happened all at once like that.
"But guys stepped in and kind of righted the ship a little bit and we gave ourselves a chance. And we learned some things about some guys that were thrown into the fire. As a coach and as a player you try to go, 'OK, what's the positive out of it?' We got playing time for these guys and now we've got to move on. The thing about this team is we have the pieces and the ingredients to be pretty good. We just have to get those guys in the game. They've played a smidge and now they have to play a bunch.''
Lincoln is also 0-2 after losses to Emporia State (56-10) and Missouri Western (68-14).