Dickinson State breaking in new but experienced offensive coordinator

Dickinson State offensive coordinator Russell McCarvel talks with Dickinson State's quarterbacks during a practice earlier this fall. (Jake Wright / The Dickinson Press)

Breaking in a new offensive coordinator and starting quarterback is never ideal, but it may be even less ideal in 2020 due the coronavirus disrupting normal preparation and no spring practice.

Dickinson State is in exactly that situation though, and Russell McCarvel will be in charge of overseeing the Blue Hawks high powered offense without former starter and school record holder, Hayden Gibson, behind center.

McCarvel was on staff last year as Dickinson State’s running back coach, and he replaced Michael McGuire who moved to Wisconsin-La Crosse to be their offensive coordinator.

“It has been very seamless…,” Dickinson State head coach Pete Stanton said. “We haven’t missed a beat with Coach McCarvel. He brings a lot of stability to our offense.”

During the 2019 season, McCarvel was the position coach for Amad Andrews Jr. who was chosen by his teammates as the offensive MVP. He rushed for 966 yards and 16 touchdowns.


For most of his career, McCarvel roamed the sidelines in Montana as before he came to Dickinson State he was the offensive coordinator at Helena Capital High School in Helena, Mont.

He also was the head football coach at Flathead High School in Kalispell, Mont. where he worked with future NFL quarterback Brock Osweiler when he was in high school.

With him being a coordinator and head coach in the past, he knows what he wants to see from his offense this fall.

“I have been a coordinator for most of my career so stepping into that role hasn’t been anything new. There is more practice preparation that goes into being a coordinator, but in terms of our offense, the system is the game. What always changes is that anytime you have a change at quarterback, you are going to change a little bit to what his strengths are,” McCarvel said. “We might have just a little bit more mobility this year, so you may see a few more things, but you can’t line up and run the quarterback, so that isn’t going to the case.”

The offense this season will rely heavily on an experienced group of receivers that are headlined by seniors Tyger Fyre and Jaret Lee.

Dickinson State offensive coordinator Russell McCarvel watches as Jaret Lee lines up to run a route in a practice earlier this fall. (Jake Wright / The Dickinson Press)

McCarvel has the luxury of coaching his son, Conor, who is in the two-deep of the stacked receiver group.


He also has the good fortune of bringing back several veteran running backs led by senior Derek Tabor.

“I don’t think it is going to be breaking in too many wrinkles,” Lee said. “Coach McCarvel helped us with the offense last year, and he was almost like a co-offensive coordinator... We just have to knock the nerves off everyone and Coach McCarvel (being a new coordinator here) when the games start.”

Despite the unprecedented circumstances entering the 2020 season, McCarvel feels as if his squad isn’t necessarily behind the eight ball.

Even though the team wasn’t able to practice this spring, he says they took advantage of the situation at hand.

“We had a lot more zoom meetings this spring. Even though we didn’t run the plays, we installed them and probably met more than we ever have…” McCarvel said. “I wouldn’t say we are behind, because of no spring ball.”

With the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic going into the fall, the Blue Hawks will need everyone to step up, because players truly, now more so than ever do not know when their number will be called.

The hope is that the experience and depth will be an asset for Dickinson State

“We will need all of those guys, because there are a lot of things going on in this world and we will need a lot of depth everywhere,” McCarvel said. “You will see some names up there, that maybe even we didn’t know were going to be prominent for sure. Everybody better be ready.”


Dickinson State offensive coordinator Russell McCarvel directs players during a fall camp practice. (Jake Wright / The Dickinson Press)

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