The Dixie State University Trailblazers will head out on the road for the second week in a row to take on Central Washington University Saturday.
Here are all the important details and the key factors about the games, including what I think DSU needs to do in order to come out on top.
What happened last week
The Trailblazers suffered a tough loss to Black Hills State University 20-14. DSU’s offense struggled early in the game. It only managed five yards in the first quarter of play and just 38 yards in the first half.
The Yellow Jackets kept DSU scoreless until the final three minutes of the third quarter. DSU’s offense looked better in the second half, but couldn’t dig itself out of a 20-0 hole.
Sophomore quarterback Tyson Blackner, who started the first two games of the season, did not play in the game due to a lower body injury. Freshman quarterback Josh Thompson started in Blackner’s absence. Thompson played well, but like any freshman, he made some freshman mistakes. According to head coach Shay McClure, Blackner will be out at least another week, so it will be up to Thompson to lead the offense.
Last meeting with CWU
The last time DSU squared off against the Wildcats was Nov. 14, 2015. The Trailblazers lost that meeting 34-28.
Senior running back Dejon Coleman carried the bulk of DSU’s offense as he rushed for 117 yards on 12 carries. Coleman scored three of the Trailblazers’ touchdowns in the game.
Sophomore Blake Barney started the game at quarterback. Barney has missed the first three games of the season this year, but McClure said he is hopeful Barney will be able to return this week.
DSU vs. CWU by the numbers
The Trailblazers have put up some pretty decent numbers this season but have only one win to show for it. The Wildcats have the Trailblazers beat in many major statistical categories.
Both teams are averaging nearly identical total yards per game, but CWU has the slight advantage gaining an average of 406 yards per game compared to 404 yards for DSU. The total rushing yards (151-137) and passing yards (255-219) per game are in CWU’s favor as well.
DSU is scoring just about 21 points per game while allowing its opponents to score 22 points per game. CWU on the other hand scores 28 points per game but allows 30 points per game. CWU definitely has the numbers advantage, but as the saying goes, “that’s why they play the game.”
What to expect
CWU likes to throw the ball. Senior quarterback Justin Lane throws the ball an average of 37 times per game and has already racked up 765 total passing yards and eight touchdowns on the season.
As far as the ground game goes, the Wildcats like to distribute the workload. In their matchup against Western Oregon University Sept. 10, seven different Wildcats were handed the ball. CWU’s defense has been lackluster so far this season as it is allowing 405 yards per game.
I think this is a winnable game for DSU and one that can get them back on track when it returns to conference play next week. The Trailblazers are at their best when they establish the ground game. It opens up their pass game, and for a freshman quarterback like Thompson, he can use all the help he can get.
The Trailblazers can exploit the CWU defense on the ground too. In the first game of the season, CWU allowed 286 rushing yards and were blown out by Portland State University, 43-26. If DSU wants to win this one, they will focus on the ground game.
It will also be important that DSU limits its penalties. It is averaging 74 yards on penalties despite tightening things up last week by only giving up 48 yards. The Trailblazers also need to take care of the football. They have been plagued by turnovers so far this season and that is one reason its found itself losing both games this season by less than a touchdown.
If DSU can do these things, they’ll come out of Ellensburg with a win.