Hawks want more consistency today
One moment, Dickinson State was employing Hank Biesiot's traditional pound-it-down-your-throat offense and Arlan Hofland's lock-tight defense.
The next, the Blue Hawks were running into walls of defenders and giving up big plays.
Unfortunately for DSU, the latter was more common in last Saturday's 30-19 season-opening loss against Rocky Mountain College.
"The effort was there," said Biesiot, in his 37th season as DSU's head coach. "You get in some ballgames that are coin-flip games or toss-up games. Maybe that's it. But you've got to find a way. We just have to find a way to be more consistent, find a way to make some more big plays. You win football games with big plays and eliminate some mistakes too. That takes care of some field position. That gives you a chance."
The Blue Hawks hope to make a big improvement and put their season on a winning path when they visit Montana Western at 1 p.m. today for a Frontier Conference game in Dillon, Mont.
DSU, on many levels, played above many expectations in its opener.
The Blue Hawks outgained Rocky 350 to 300 in total yards, got great play out of senior receiver Tanner Leak -- he had six catches for 96 yards and another big gain that was called back by a penalty -- and saw the move of senior Jay Grosz from inside to outside linebacker pay off as he led the team with 12 tackles.
The problems, players said, were the little things.
"I think our shortcomings were a handful of plays -- big plays at the wrong time," said DSU senior safety Nolan Schwartz, who had seven tackles. "They're all little things we can correct: tackling, pursuit angles, little fundamental things. The talent is there. We just need to get some things pressed out and we'll go from there."
Another very important player had his ups and downs.
Yet, senior quarterback Dave Velasquez showed signs that he can be a threat both through the air and on the ground.
He was 10 of 26 for 134 yards passing and an interception -- Biesiot said coaches counted at least four dropped passes that Velasquez either put on the money or were catchable -- while leading the Blue Hawks with 69 yards rushing on 16 carries. He had a fumble into the end zone on a sneak that was recovered by junior tailback Myren Moore for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
"I'm not your average quarterback I guess," Velasquez said with a smile. "Whether we look for the pass or roll out, it's all an option for me, which is nice. All the linemen know too that I have the option to roll out and run it. If I don't feel comfortable throwing or throwing away, I just tuck it and run."
Teams both looking for 1st wins
Today is the first game between DSU and Western in nearly 50 years.
The last time the teams played was in 1964, when Dickinson State College defeated Western Montana College 13-7 under head coach Roger Huffman. Biesiot didn't take the reins of the team until 12 years later.
"It was not in what we would consider 'modern Western history,'" Montana Western head coach Ryan Nourse said with a chuckle.
Both teams are looking for their first win, with Western coming off a 54-21 loss to Frontier newcomer Southern Oregon last Saturday in which it allowed 585 total yards.
Biesiot said the Bulldogs are very much like Rocky Mountain in that they spread the field offensively and like to throw the ball.
Unlike Rocky, Western is very young. Nine of its offensive starters in today's game are new this season and five of them are freshmen. Freshman quarterback Kenney Bradley gets the start after senior starter Jeff Logan separated his shoulder in the first half last week.
"I feel like that's been helping our young guys coming along a little bit faster," said Nourse, who played the 1990 and 1991 seasons under Biesiot at DSU. "We want to play good football. People watch our video, they know we play hard."
LB Williams likely lost for season
David Williams, a junior college transfer at inside linebacker, is likely out for the season after dislocating and separating his left shoulder and breaking his clavicle bone, during the second quarter of last week's game.
Williams had just two tackles but was in on several plays before he was sidelined.
"He's probably our most gifted linebacker," Biesiot said. "He's really good in pass coverage. Our guys really like him that way. He's got good size, good ability. He's definitely going to be missed."
The Seaside, Calif., native who transferred from Monterey (Calif.) Peninsula Community College said he will have surgery and would like to try and play again this season. More likely though is that he will be out and apply for a medical redshirt season to retain two years of eligibility.
"Hopefully I can go get the surgery, hopefully a speedy recovery," Williams said. "That's hoping for the best. If not, a medical redshirt, come back 100 percent next year. In the long run, to tell you the truth, medical redshirt is probably the best. Then I could be 100 percent and come back way effective more next year."