Win gives DSU fresh perspective
One win has changed everything.
After last week's 27-7 homecoming victory over the University of Jamestown, the Dickinson State football team has gained a boost of much needed confidence, and a new outlook on its season and self-worth.
The win came just in time as the Blue Hawks travel to Frontier Conference opponent Carroll College, which is ranked No. 7 in the NAIA Top 25 poll, at 1 p.m. today in Helena, Mont.
The Saints are a team which has always given DSU fits on offense and defense. Although this week's practice isn't any different from other weeks, coming off a win has put the Blue Hawks in a fighting spirit.
"Winning is definitely a mentality thing," sophomore receiver Wyatt Mirich said. "For us to get a win and finally be on the right mind set is an enormous amount of momentum and something we needed."
Freshman quarterback Kaler Ray added: "After the win, everybody has been a lot more enthusiastic and it definitely uplifted the team a little bit and definitely gave us the momentum that we need to go in and beat Carroll."
The Blue Hawks looked their best all season against Jamestown with a more complete pass game -- Ray went 5 of 10 for 137 yards and a touchdown pass -- and a stellar run game performance by running back Jesse Carney, who set a DSU record with 37 carries in a game.
Carney and junior Myren Moore have been splitting time at running back, but Moore has been out with a sprained ankle.
"Jesse, we're not surprised by his performance," head coach Hank Biesiot said. "He's been coming along steadily and we kind of expected that out of him."
Focusing on today's game, Carroll is coming off its bye week, but still has a bad taste from a 35-31 loss to Eastern Oregon on Sept. 28. The Mountaineers' senior running back Chris McGinnis Parker scored three fourth-quarter touchdowns against the Saints' impressive defense to end their undefeated record and drop them from No. 3 to No. 9 in the rankings the following week.
The finish to the game came as a shock, since Carroll is known for their strict and polished offense and defense, which Biesiot said should be back on track today and still a threat.
"They're going to be ready to get back on the winning track, they're very fundamentally sound," Biesiot said. "They simplify, but they do things fundamentally as well as anybody that we're going to play all year long. On both sides of the ball offensively and defensively they're sound. You hear the expression 'play fast,' and they're one of those teams that do that and they know their assignments and they get there in a hurry."
On the defensive end, the Blue Hawks can expect the Saints' offense to be balanced, but have a big focus on the run game, especially if the game starts to slip away from them. Senior quarterback Dakota Stonehouse may be DSU's biggest worry. Stonehouse is one of the more versatile quarterbacks in the Frontier Conference who can successfully throw the ball, but also runs with ease.
"Their quarterback is an outstanding kid," Biesiot said. "He might be their fastest running back and they try to take care of him but when they need a play or something, sometimes their best plays come when he just takes off. He's got the ability that you like in play makers: to take a bad play and make it into a winning play."
For the DSU offense, sophomore quarterback Thad Lane said with Carroll's defense what you see is what you get and the key for the offense is to play a full four-quarter game and play aggressive on both ends of the ball.
"They're going to come at you hard, they're going to come out and hit you in the mouth and something we got to do right back," Lane said. "We got to start early and not be intimidated by them because they're a good team."
Mirich added: "They have just always had the upper hand scheme-wise. They just seem like they always know what we're going to do and when we're going to do it and I think we got some stuff hopefully they won't be prepared for."