Dixie State faces first nationally-ranked opponent, Colorado Mesa

GAME PREVIEW CAPSULE

Dixie State University (3-2 in RMAC, 3-3 overall) at Colorado Mesa University (5-1 in RMAC, 5-1 overall) today, 7 p.m., Stocker Stadium, Grand Junction, Colo.

Previous Meeting: September 5, 2015 -Mavericks 43, Trailblazers 3 (CMU takes advantage of early Trailblazer miscues. An interception and bad snap on punt lead to early scores. DSU fails to punch the ball in after getting to CMU 5-yard line twice.)
Overall Series Record: Mavericks lead head-to-head series 6-1 in the DII era and overall 17-6-1
Broadcast: ESPN SportsRadio 97.7 FM

TRAILBLAZERS
blazerDHead coach: Shay McClure (1st year, 3-3)
Offense: Pro Set
Defense: Pro 4-3
Scoring: 25.3 ppg
Points allowed: 25.3
Last Game: Beat Chadron State last week 44-27 on the road (October 8, 2016)
Players to watch: Quarterback Josh Thompson retook the reins once again with Blake Barney gone for the season. The true freshman played admirably, directing the offense on sustained drives. DeJon Coleman, Clifford Simms and Orlando Wallace ripped up the turf last week. Aub Reed made the most of his targets at wide receiver. Justin Martin also got some looks and is impressive in the return game. The offensive line has covered their losses and are playing well. The Dixie D is stalwart. They have played outstanding the last two weeks. Colton Olson leads the team in tackles (50). Right behind him are linebackers Peter Brown and Shiloh Pritchard. Linebacker Keanu Foki leads the team in sacks (3.5). Jaylen Moore and Tyneil Cooper are solid in the back field. It seems a different defensive lineman steps up amd makes key plays each week. Remington Kelly, Malcolm Jackson, Darius Matthews, James Lautogia and Benson Laumatia have all made key defensive plays this season.

MAVERICKS
Mesa_State_MavericksHead Coach: Russ Martin (5th year at CMU, 29-23, overall 31-48)
Offense: Split
Defense: 4-3 with Zone Blitz Scheme
Scoring: 35.0 ppg
Points Allowed: 30.3 ppg
Last Game: Lost to Black Hills State 48-34 in upset last week on the road (October 8, 2016)
Players to watch: Sean Rubalcaba returns as the starter at quarterback. Rubalcaba has passed for 1588 yards and rushed for 153 more. David Tann leads the team in rushing (361 yds) Josh Brown, Marcus Hines and Virnel Moon are Rubalcaba’s favorite targets at receiver. Leading tackler Marcus Cross returns at linebacker, however this season defensive end Blake Nelson leads the team in tackles (50) and sacks (4.5). Dustin Rivas lead the team in interceptions (4) and blocked kicks (2).

GAME OUTLOOK
Both offenses had career days rushing last week. Colorado Mesa dropped 10 spots to #23 nationally after its first loss last week. The teams are actually comparative in many aspects. Offensively I give the edge to CMU. QB Rubalcaba returns with some good talent at the skill positions. Where the teams divert is on the other side of the ball. The Mavericks actually give up 475 yards and 30 points per game. Those are not good numbers. Their opponents outgain them by 40 yards per game. But the Mavericks are very opportunistic on defense, especially Rivas. Rivas did not play last week in CMU’s loss to Black Hills State. If he plays against DSU, he is a defensive force. Dixie State’s defense has come up big in pressure situations. I know CMU is ranked, but that ranking is really based on their record, not on how they have performed. Will the Mavericks come back with a fury after their first loss, or will DSU pull off the upset? The key will be the offense limiting their mistakes and not giving the Maverick offense good field position.

STGNews Prediction: Upset! DSU 21, CMU 17

Email: sports@stgnews.com

Twitter: @oldschoolag

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