The Braves had not needed it much the past two games, attempting just 51 passes combined in wins over Bethany and Bethel.
“We have not had to use it a lot the last two games,” Kessinger said. “It has been a big part of our offense. We are focusing on getting better. We want to continue to be multi-dimensional threat offense.
“We will take a much bigger step up in level of competition this week. We have to be much better.”
No. 10 Ottawa (3-1, 2-0) plays 1:30 p.m. today at McPherson (3-1, 2-0)
The running game has been led by junior Luke Lundy, who has back-to-back 100-yard games. Speedster Dexter Hayes had more than 100 yards last week.
“They have been tremendous for us,” Kessinger said. “Our backs did a tremendous job reading reads and making cuts. The O-line did a great job of taking steps in getting their position.”
Kessinger said the success of the running game has given junior quarterback Michael Behr time to settle in.
Lundy has made the transition from the junior college to Ottawa where he is running more of a reaction offense.
“We are more zone,” Lundy said. “Each week get a little better. Coach K helped me out. He taught me to slow down and look for the hole.”
Ottawa’s defense will be challenged this week by a good McPherson offense, which ranks 20th in the NAIA in points per game (34.8).
“They run the ball extremely well,” Kessinger said. “They have a big back ... 265 pounds. He really moves well and and is a physical guy. They like to run a lot of double tight stuff. That is something we are going to focus on. We did a pretty good job last year in the run.”
Kessinger said he is not worried about giving up yards.
“We our keeping them out of the end zone,” he said with Ottawa giving 20 points per game.
Kessinger said this is a big early-season matchup that will go a long way in determining the conference champion. It pits two of the three undefeated teams in the conference.
“They can put themselves in a spot to contend for a conference championship,” he said.