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Blue Hawks look to spark offense against Rocky

Press Photo by Royal McGregor Dickinson State freshman quarterback Kaler Ray, left, hands off to Myren Moore during a Frontier Conference game against Montana State-Northern on Aug. 29 at the Biesiot Activities Center.

Since the Dickinson State football team played opened its season against Mountain State-Northern last Thursday, it gives the Blue Hawks a couple extra days of practice this week.

DSU travels to Billings, Mont., at 1 p.m. today to play Rocky Mountain College -- a team equipped with an offense so talented, any opponent needs the extra preparation.

With a team filled with young and untested players, DSU head coach Hank Biesiot thought the extra time this week did the players well and they used the time wisely.

"I think the few extra days were good for us with some of the inexperience we have," Biesiot said. "You hope it pays off, you got to believe practice makes for good games and performance. I think we made use out of it and didn't make a lot of chances, but Rocky presents some different problem than Northern did the first week so you get some time to get ready and make some changes."

The Bears are currently 2-0 with wins over the University of Jamestown (34-20) and Southern Oregon University (35-30). The biggest key to Rocky Mountain's wins is its veteran offense. Like Chip Kelly ran his offense at the University of Oregon, the Bears like to run a no huddle whenever possible and try and start a new play every 10-15 seconds. The Bears are primarily a passing team and are currently rank first in the NAIA with an average of 432 passing yards per game.

To prepare for this style of offense, Biesiot has been stressing to his offense and defense to play consistently from beginning to end. If the defense can hold them off, then it's the offense's job to capitalize on field position and holding onto the ball.

"You can't have back-to-back penalties like we had in a couple of sequences, that kills you unless you're blessed with some firepower," Biesiot said regarding his offense's performance last week. "That's a thing we have to get better at and also maybe just simplify offensively. We're going to see a quarterback who's maybe one of the top in the league."

Junior Bryce Baker, the reigning Frontier Conference player of the week alongside fellow Rocky Mountain linebacker Josh Johnson, has two games under his belt this season and already is turning heads with his passing game. In last week's 35-30 win against No. 14 Southern Oregon, Baker completed 34 of 51 passes and threw for 517 yards with three touchdowns. He currently has 782 yards on the season with six touchdowns and averages 391 yards per game.

"If we had a kid who can duplicate Baker, then he would be starting," Biesiot said.

The offense seems like a tall order for the Blue Hawks to handle, but sophomore quarterback Thad Lane thought his defense performed well last week and can handle the Bears.

"We got a lot of really really good guys on defense," Lane said. "Last week, they did a pretty good job holding Northern to 252 yards of total offense. That's nothing to scoff at, that's really good. I just expect our defense to play like they usually do and hopefully the offense can put some points on the boards so we have a chance to win."

Lane and the DSU offense have enough to worry about with Rocky Mountain's defense. At the linebacker position, the Bears are stacked with pro-sized players who are disciplined and experienced. Last week, Johnson was credited with 13 tackles against Southern Oregon and 11 solo tackles on the season.

The DSU quarterbacks have been working on varying their passes in order to try and stymie the Rocky Mountain defense.

"They run a lot of four-deep so we're really going to work on our short passing game trying to keep throwing it under, under, under and then maybe hit them a little deeper when they come up," freshman Kaler Ray said. "Running wise, we're running the same stuff we've specifically for their 3-3 stack."

The Blue Hawks already forgot about the first week woes against MSU-Northern and are looking toward the Bears.

"We've had a good week of practice, a lot of high energy and we have one game under the belt and are ready to go," Ray said. We tasted the loss, we want some victory."

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.