Today’s matchup: DSU takes first road trip to Black Hills State

GAME PREVIEW CAPSULE
Dixie State University (1-1) at Black Hills University (2-0), noon at Lyle Hare Stadium, Spearfish, S.D.
Previous Meeting: These teams have never met.
Overall Series Record: First meeting
Broadcast: ESPN SportsRadio 97.7 FM

TRAILBLAZERS
blazerDHead coach: Shay McClure (1st year, 1-1, 1-1 overall)
Offense: Pro Set, Multiple
Defense: Pro 4-3
Last Game: Lost to South Dakota Mines & Technology last week 31-27 at home
Players to watch: Next man up! Tyson Blackner went down last week to injury. Stepping in for his first start will be Josh Thompson. The true freshman came in last week and after a rough start (interception) seemed to settle in and move the offense. He will be backed up by true freshman Nick Warmsley. DeJon Coleman returns this week after missing the first two games. The ‘Blazers leading rusher last year will team with Orlando Wallace and Clifford Sims for a very potent backfield. Who doesn’t think Aubrey Reed is a stud at wideout? Reed stepped up last week and made big plays. Dejuan Dantzler is also dangerous on passing downs. Defensively last week Malcolm Jackson popped on everyone’s radar as a force on the line. The San Diego State transfer had seven tackles, a sack and forced a fumble last week. Peter Brown and Shiloh Pritchard have stepped up at the linebacker spot. Colton Olson continues to play strong at the safety position. (Joining Blackner on the injured list are Blake Barney and Derrick Brown)

YELLOWJACKETS
black_hills_state_university_sealHead Coach: Jeff Mills (5th year at BHSU, 2-0, 12-34 overall)
Offense: Spread
Defense: Base 3-4, stunts frequently
Last Game: Beat Fort Lewis University 39-36 on the road
Players to watch: Quarterback Ryan Hommel leads the team. He has completed 42 of 82 passes for 471 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions in the first two games. Running back Phydell Paris leads the Yellowjackets in rushing with 208 yards on 47 carries. Wide receiver Erick Hairston-Belcher is Hommel’s favorite target with 13 catches. Defensively the Yellowjackets lead the conference in sacks (7) and interceptions (6). Defensive lineman Cody Benne leads the team in tackles while defensiback Drew Hebel has a team-high three interceptions.

COACH MCCLURE’S PERSPECTIVE
“Black Hills State brings back a lot of starters from a year ago. They have improved over last year. While they give up a lot of yardage defensively, they are very opportunistic and have created several turnovers (two fumbles, six interceptions) in the first two games. They have a good quarterback who is likely to pass more than run but is athletic enough to do damage with his legs. We are traveling quite a distance (14 hours). This will be a good test for us. This week we have emphasized cutting down on penalties, especially the personal fouls. We have full confidence in Thompson. It was almost a coin flip on who was opening-day starter between him and Blackner. We also get Coleman back. He and Wallace are both dual threats with the rushing and receiving the ball.”

GAME OUTLOOK
BSHU was picked to finish last in the RMAC preseason poll, two spots behind DSU based on their 0-11 record last year. But all the Yellowjackets have done is gone on the road and beaten two teams picked to finish four to five spots higher than them. They are playing with a chip on their shoulder. They are likely not happy to be picked behind Dixie State, the newcomer, and will likely use that as motivation in their first home game. The Trailblazers lost Blackner at an inopportune time. But other than Thompson’s first pass (interception) that seemed more bad luck than poor decision making (the SDMT lineman had fallen and stood up just as Thompson threw the ball). Thompson played better the rest of the way and with 60 more seconds on the clock we would probably be talking about a game between two unbeaten teams this week. Getting Coleman back will help tremendously. The weapons are there. It is unlikely that BHSU will turn DSU offense over four times. DSU Offensive Coordinator Reilly Murphy has rarely put Blackner nor Thompson in a position to throw interceptions. DSU quarterbacks throw a lot of screens and crossing routes and then let the receiver/running back go to work.

STGNEWS PREDICTION: DSU wins 28-10

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