It's been an eyesore for five years. Mike Schmidt hopes this is the year it finally goes away.
The University of Wisconsin-La Crosse football head coach knows his Eagles team must improve against the run if it wants to challenge for a WIAC championship in 2017.
In each of the past five seasons, the Eagles have ranked sixth or worse within the conference against the run, including a last-place finish in 2016. The numbers were skewed a little bit the final two games of the season, when the team surrendered 364 yards to UW-Oshkosh and 443 yards to UW-Platteville.
"We'll never compete to be better than 5-5 if we can't stop the run," Schmidt said. "Hard to do that now, but I think we've done a lot of stuff in the offseason to get to the point where we can a lot of stuff in to do that in the fall."
Schmidt hired UW-Platteville defensive coordinator Matt Janus to assist with the coaching duties. Over the course of April during spring practices, they are critiquing techniques and reiterating fundamentals to members of the defense.
"It was a emphasis starting the first day of spring ball, and even the day before that in our meetings, learning about what gaps we should be filling and really stopping the run," junior linebacker Michael Garvey said. "Because that was our Achilles heal last year."
UW-L returns to practice on Sunday.