GAME PREVIEW CAPSULE
Humboldt State University (0-7,0-6) at Dixie State (2-5, 2-4) today, 6 p.m., Hansen Stadium
Previous Meeting: Red Storm 49 Lumberjacks 24 (Sept. 21, 2013 at WOU)
Broadcast: ESPN SportsRadio 106.1 FM; TV, CEC-22
Head Coach: Rob Smith (23rd year, 139-91-1)
Defense: Pro 4-3
Last Game: Lost to Azusa Pacific, 21-13
Players to watch: While the preseason conference favorites are still winless, they are playing much better football than when these teams first met four weeks ago. They have lost to division leaders APU and CWU by only one score and their offense has found some consistency behind new quarterback Spencer Phillips. The Jacks are still without leading rushers Nick Ricciardulli and Daniel Wyatt, both out with injuries. Defensively, HSU is led by defensive back Miquan Johnson.
Trend: With their top performers out with injuries, HSU has relied heavily on the pass. Coach Smith has experimented using last years’ starter Kirk Morris initially along with Casey Mintz. But the last two games Phillips has gotten a majority of the snaps. Defensively HSU has improved tremendously, holding teams to almost 100 yards less per game than when these teams first met. It does not bode well for a defense though, when your leading tackler is a defensive back (Johnson).
Head coach: Scott Brumfeld (4th year, 8-31 overall)
Offense: Pistol, Pro Set
Defense: Pro 4-3
Last Game: Lost to Western Oregon, 46-34
Players to watch: Griff Robles has been a fantasy football dream with his passing and touchdowns, both rushing and passing. Joe Don Duncan and Mitch Frei continue to exceed the century mark in receiving. The last time these teams met, Joel Davis had 139 combined rushing-receiving yards.
Trend: The offense continues to produce, but this game will not mirror the earlier blowout as HSU’s defense has tightened up the last three games against quality opponents. Dixie’s defense has done reasonably well against one-dimensional teams. Zac Christian had two picks last week and could tack on a couple of more if the front seven can shake Phillips.
Humboldt State was the preseason conference favorites, but lost their top two playmakers in the first game. This forced Coach Smith to revamp his offensive strategy, which now heavily relies on the pass. While the Jacks defense played downright awful the first four games, they have played much better in the last three, two of those games against the conference leaders. Robles had over 100 yards rushing against HSU in September, but did not use that weapon last week. DSU is more dangerous when that option is used more.
STGnews Prediction: Red Storm 28, Wolves 13
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.