Blue Hawks' offensive numbers hit a low

Known for years as a football team that could pound the ball up and down the field with its rushing game, Dickinson State's ability to run the ball has taken a turn for the worse.

Known for years as a football team that could pound the ball up and down the field with its rushing game, Dickinson State's ability to run the ball has taken a turn for the worse.

DSU is averaging only 88 yards rushing a game this season, which coaches believe could be the worst in the past three decades.

However, the number doesn't shock Blue Hawks head coach Hank Biesiot. He also knows it's a big reason why his team is 1-5 and one loss away from finishing under .500 for the first time in 30 years.

"That's not good," Biesiot said.

Injuries and inexperience have led to DSU's inability to get its offense in gear this season.


"If you think of a thing that's a problem for a team, we probably have it," Biesiot said.

To compound their rushing woes, the Blue Hawks will have more problems at the running back position coming into Saturday's game at Valley City State.

DSU will be without two, if not three of their top tailbacks against VCSU.

"It could get a little dicey," said sophomore running back Derek Beadle, who is out with a broken left hand.

Beadle and sophomore Zach Hepperle could miss the rest of the season with injuries.

Hepperle suffered a season-ending knee injury against Dakota State while Beadle now wears a large cast on his hand.

Junior starter James Macey, who leads DSU with 369 rushing yards and three touchdowns, hopes to play against VCSU but is nursing a hip flexor he suffered in practice earlier this week.

If Macey can't play, fourth-string running back and second-string fullback Punk Humphrey will get the start.


Humphrey has already been moved to starting fullback because of a possible season-ending injury to senior starter Michael Williams.

"Injuries plays a big part," Macey said. "... If you've got key players who are injured, it's kind of hard to make big plays. We're going to come around as a team."

Since the 2001 season, DSU has seen its rushing yards per game decline nearly every season.

The lone exception was in 2003, when Jace Schillinger's record-setting 1,519-yard season set the pace for a slight boost in rushing yards. That season, DSU rushed the ball for an average of 239 yards per game.

Since then, those numbers - along with DSU's points per game - have vastly declined.

Coaches have watched as DSU's offensive production has dipped at a consistent rate since 2004, when it averaged 32 points per game.

This year, the Blue Hawks are averaging 10.5 points a game and scored a season high of 24 points against South Dakota Mines in their only win.

"We've showed steady improvement, which we felt we were going to do early," Biesiot said. "But sometimes with a little step forward, we've had a step backwards in some other area."


DSU has been more willing to throw the ball this season and it has shown in the numbers.

Blue Hawks quarterbacks Caleb Midura, Jared Tuma and Matt Gittings have combined to throw for 847 yards, which equates to 141 yards a game.

That number is better than both the 2005 and 2003 seasons but is slightly down from last year.

However, the three signal-callers have thrown only four touchdowns this season while throwing eight interceptions and taking 14 sacks.

"We've been really inconsistent," said sophomore receiver Glint Grosz, who leads the Blue Hawks with 251 yards on 17 receptions. "At times we move the ball good, at times we get down in the red zone and we're all out."

Throughout it all, Biesiot said he and his team have been their chins up, hoping each week brings improvement.

"Every team in America has that goal of being 1-0 every week," Biesiot said. "It keeps guys going, it keeps coaches going. That's the way it should be. That's why they play the game."

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