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Blue Hawks know Tech is better than its 1-4 record

Most of the teams the Dickinson State football team have faced this season are what you see is what you get.

The Blue Hawks play against one of the more puzzling teams, Montana Tech, in the Frontier Conference at 1 p.m. today in Butte, Mont.

At first glance, the Orediggers' 1-4 record would suggest the team is struggling. But Tech has only lost each game by one or two scores. Its worst loss came from Southern Oregon University, 59-32 on Oct. 5. But like Carroll College last week, the Orediggers are coming off its bye week and a hard loss and is ready to search and destroy.

"I don't know how it happened," Biesiot said. "Last year they were conference champs and a playoff team, and this year they got the same kids back with one or two exceptions and they're 1-4. That does say something about the balance of the conference, but they're the same team last year that had a real good team ... They're a veteran team, lot of juniors and seniors on the team. They're very stout, strong up front defensively and offensively."

Last week, the Blue Hawks traveled to Helena, Mont., to play Carroll College and were immediately shut down. DSU lost 42-7 overall and committed three first half fumbles that proved costly for the team and threw the momentum in the direction of the Saints.

Carroll stymied both DSU's running game and passing game with freshman quarterback Kaler Ray going 5 of 17 for 43 yards before Thad Lane replaced him in the second half and went 4 of 4 for 54 yards and a touchdown. Running back Jesse Carney, who put up an impressive 157-yard performance two weeks ago against the University of Jamestown, was held to 18 carries for 13 yards.

"We had trouble breathing it was an old fashioned tail-kicking or choke out-type of a beat down and we couldn't get anything going offensively," Biesiot said. "I think at one time we had a chance to kind of control the minutes and the seconds of the game, but that kind of got away from us too early."

Ray added: "We're still a super young team, so first half can be a little shaky. People are still trying to catch up in the game speed or game mode and by the second half, we're all settled in and can make better plays."

This is not the week that Biesiot wants his offense to be struggling. The Orediggers' defense is third in the Frontier Conference in total defense per game with their opponents averaging 389 yards. Montana Tech is also fourth in the Frontier in scoring defense (25.8 points per game) and was second in the conference last season in scoring defense (23.0).

The two players Ray, Lane and the rest of the offense needs to worry about are veteran linebackers Ryan Jones and Mike Touzinsky. The Orediggers lead the conference in sacks with 2.7, with Jones and Touzinsky leading their team with two solo sacks each. Touzinsky also is third in the conference in tackles by averaging 10 per game.

"Tech's a really good team, their record may not show it ... in all those losses they've only lost by like two scores," senior offensive lineman Ryan Payne said. "The record doesn't show, but they're really solid on defense and they're not giving up any points. They're D-line is solid, they have all three starters back on that, so we've just been preparing for that and worrying about our game plan to go forth."

DSU has been riddled with injuries this season, but the offensive line was hit the hardest. Among some of the injured, freshman Jereme Nereux broke his hand and recently had surgery on it and freshman Curran Irvine, who had been out since the beginning of the season with a foot injury, was officially shut down for the rest of the year in risk of having surgery.

The lack of depth at the offensive line has caused some stirs in the roster, forcing younger players to step up and take a leadership position whether they are ready or not.

"It's been tough, we've had injuries and some guys out, but on the other side we've had some younger guys who haven't gotten much playing time step up to a pretty important role and they've done a pretty good job doing that," Payne said. "I've been happy with them. They've proved in every game in that stand point, we just keep getting better and better."

With a banged up and underperforming offense facing one of the conference's toughest defense's the key to this game will be for the O-line to remain intact and strong.

"Our offensive line gets better every game, they don't get a lot of credit they deserve," junior wide receiver JT Keith said. "If they have the best game all season the they put us in a really good position to win because our quarterbacks know exactly what they're looking for route wise we just need the time to throw it."

Ray added: "We're expecting a lot of one-on-one and a lot of man coverage so their DBs and our receivers will be going at it all game. They have a good front seven, but I think our O-line will be able to play them."

Ray added: "We're still a super young team, so the first half can be a little shaky. People are still trying to catch up in the game speed or game mode and by the second half, we're all settled in and can make better plays."

This is not the week that Biesiot wants his offense to be struggling. The Orediggers' defense is third in the Frontier Conference in total defense per game with their opponents averaging 389 yards. Montana Tech is also fourth in the Frontier in scoring defense (25.8 points per game) and was second in the conference last season in scoring defense (23.0).

The two players Ray, Lane and the rest of the offense needs to worry about are veteran linebackers Ryan Jones and Mike Touzinsky. The Orediggers lead the conference in sacks with 2.7, with Jones and Touzinsky leading their team with two solo sacks each. Touzinsky also is third in the conference in tackles by averaging 10 per game.

"Tech's a really good team, their record may not show it ... in all those losses they've only lost by like two scores," senior offensive lineman Ryan Payne said. "The record doesn't show, but they're really solid on defense and they're not giving up any points. They're D-line is solid, they have all three starters back on that, so we've just been preparing for that and worrying about our game plan to go forth."

DSU has been riddled with injuries this season, but the offensive line was hit the hardest. Among some of the injured, freshman Jereme Nereux broke his hand and recently had surgery on it and freshman Curran Irvine, who had been out since the beginning of the season with a foot injury, was officially shut down for the rest of the year in risk of having surgery.

The lack of depth at the offensive line has caused some stirs in the roster, forcing younger players to step up and take a leadership position whether they are ready or not.

"It's been tough, we've had injuries and some guys out, but on the other side we've had some younger guys who haven't gotten much playing time step up to a pretty important role and they've done a pretty good job doing that," Payne said. "I've been happy with them. They've proved in every game in that stand point, we just keep getting better and better."

With a banged up and underperforming offense facing one of the conference's toughest defense's the key to this game will be for the O-line to remain intact and strong.

"Our offensive line gets better every game, they don't get a lot of credit they deserve," junior wide receiver JT Keith said. "If they have the best game all season the they put us in a really good position to win because our quarterbacks know exactly what they're looking for route wise we just need the time to throw it."

Ray added: "We're expecting a lot of one-on-one and a lot of man coverage so their DBs and our receivers will be going at it all game. They have a good front seven, but I think our O-line will be able to play them."

Meaghan MacDonald

Meaghan is the sports page designer and copy editor for the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead.  After graduating from James Madison University (Va.) in May 2013, she moved from New Jersey to North Dakota to start pursuing her career in sports journalism and was a sports reporter for the Dickinson Press and covered Dickinson State athletics. Meaghan has been working for the Forum since June 2015.

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