After last year's loss to Marian, the St. Ambrose coaching staff didn't even watch the film.
This year, despite falling 49-14, rewatching the tape didn't seem so daunting.
"There's certainly some issues, but defensively we proved we can play with an elite team like that, and that's encouraging," head coach Mike Magistrelli said. "Again, we've given up a ton of points in two weeks, but we've played good defense. It doesn't look like it on paper but if you watch us play, we've played good defense."
The stats are somewhat misleading. Of the 86 points the Fighting Bees have allowed through two games, 16 have come while the St. Ambrose offense has been on the field. Another 21 points have been set up by short fields, the result of special teams miscues, whether that be muffed punts or giving up long kickoff returns.
Opponents are just 10 of 31 on third down conversions, a 32 percent rate.
"We're excited, we're flying around, playing fast and focused on controlling what we can control," senior linebacker Dillon Valdez said. "If we get put in a bad position, we're going to play our brand of defense no matter what."
Despite that, Valdez knows the most meaningful stat is points allowed, something the team will look to improve this week against Siena Heights.
"We know we're one of the better defenses in the nation, and we're ready to show what we can do week in and week out," Valdez said. "We definitely want to limit the points. Then everyone can see how dominant we really are."
A home game against the No. 22 Saints comes at a perfect time.
"This is exactly what we needed," Magistrelli said. "Coming off a loss like that, to play a home game and have the No. 22-ranked team in the nation is what we need. We need to play well and have a victory over a rated team. I think our guys relish the challenge, and it's a good opportunity to bounce back.
Fixing the issues: With the defense an early strength, the Fighting Bees are looking to improve on offense and special teams. There weren't a lot of positives from last week's loss, but quarterback Dino Borrelli was a bright spot, completing 19 of his 27 pass attempts for 141 yards and a touchdown.
"I thought Dino played pretty well at quarterback," Magistrelli said. "As you watch the film and see the pressure he was under and his decision making, I thought he played pretty well."
Despite Borrelli's good play, the Bees will still employ their dual-quarterback system. Borrelli's increased playing time last week was a result of the game flow, and sophomore John Benckendorf played well in the season opener, rushing for two scores and throwing for another.
"Both quarterbacks are great, they come in and do their job," junior receiver J.D. Villafuerte said. "It works well for our offense. We know we can score both ways, and I'm comfortable with both quarterbacks and I think the rest of the receivers are, too."
You have free articles remaining.
Villafuerte leads the team with nine catches for 149 yards and a touchdown this year and believes the rest of the offense can start to settle in as the season progresses.
"We've just got to get reps and then put ourselves in better situations. The first series last week started at the 5. We can't do that," he said. "We want to come out (this week) and play our best and give it our best shot. They are ranked but they're coming to our place, and I think that will give us a little bit of an edge."
The other issue that's plagued the Bees so far is special teams, especially in the return game where St. Ambrose has struggled to hang onto the ball. That's something that the coaching staff is trying to fix heading into this week.
"We have to win special teams (against Siena Heights)," Magistrelli said. "The challenge we have is we can't come out of the game with special teams being a wash."
Welcome back: After a cancelled game and two road games, St. Ambrose finally gets to play a home game this week at Brady Street Stadium.
Along with Homecoming, the Bees' offense will also receive a boost Saturday with the return of senior running back Jake Osterberger. Osterberger missed all of fall camp and the first two games with an offseason injury but has been fully cleared to play against the Saints.
In three seasons, Osterberger has rushed for 1,250 yards on 317 carries and has scored 15 touchdowns. He also has 22 catches for 131 yards and three scores.
His return will hopefully help against a Siena Heights defense that is allowing 9.0 points per game through the first two weeks.
"It was a great lift for him and it's a great lift for our team to see him out there," Magistrelli said. "That's a good boost for our offense to get a guy who has a ton of experience, knows what he's doing, runs hard. It just adds to the run game as well as the overall offense."
Back home: Magistrelli said injured receiver Tom Macari is back home in Plainfield, Illinois after having surgery over the weekend to repair a broken tibia and fibula suffered in last week's loss.
"He hopes to make it back in time for the Homecoming game this weekend," Magistrelli said. "All his texts have been real positive, which, I didn't expect anything different from Tom."
Villafuerte knows what Macari is going through, having suffered the same injury while he was in high school at Normal Community.
"It sucks, he's one of our good friends out here," he said. "When I was a junior and had that injury, I didn't walk for 90 days. After that, it was a little shorter period compared to an ACL injury. After about six months I was able to run. It's a weight-bearing bone so it takes a while to actually get to that point, but once you're walking, it's a little quicker process."
Injury report: Defensive back Jett Haas and defensive lineman Zach Barish are both out for this week while defensive backs Greg Burnett Jr. and Collin Etherton are questionable. Cornerback Vince Shaw is expected to play after missing last week's game.