Big plays key for DWU against Dakota State
The Tigers’ offense has been hard to stop this season.
Perhaps Mother Nature has what it takes to slow down DWU (2-2, 1-1 GPAC), as the temperature is expected to drop into the 30s with rain and wind for tonight’s nonconference game against Dakota State University (1-4). Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. in Madison.
“It’s exciting anytime you can play a night game for whatever reason,” Cimpl said. “It’s October. This is football weather, and it is always fun to play Dakota State no matter what the conditions.”
The DWU defense will be charged with getting the ball back for Cimpl’s explosive offense.
“It is imperative for us to not only get off the field quick with a three-and-out but to also make big plays with turnovers,” Cimpl said.
The Tigers rank fifth in scoring defense at 29.5 points per game and seventh in yards allowed (428.5) out of the 10 teams in the Great Plains Athletic Conference. No team in the GPAC has been better than DWU in getting off the field on third down, with opponents converting only 29 percent of the time.
“We have to try and figure out quickly what they’re going to try and take away and make adjustments from there,” Cimpl said.
Sophomore linebacker Brady Bonte leads the defense in tackles with 38.
The offense for the Trojans is unlike anything the Tigers have seen so far this year. DSU runs a simple smash-mouth style and the Tigers know what will be coming, but still have to find a way to stop it.
“Dakota State has found what they want to do and how they want to play,” Cimpl said. “They’ll take their time and try to control the ball. They are a run-first team that will try and control the clock.”
DWU has mostly seen up-tempo, no-huddle offenses through its first four games. DSU will line up for quick hits and try to move the pile against the Tigers.
For the Trojans, quarterback Cole Whisenhunt leads the Trojans with 316 yards on 107 carries and four touchdowns on the ground. Running back Dylan VandeGarde has racked up 212 yards on 53 carries for DSU. As a team the Trojans average 140.8 yards per game on the ground.
“They are going to try to run the ball right down your throat and our front seven have to play big this week,” senior defensive lineman Eric Gruis said Thursday.
Cimpl knows once the ground game is taken away from DSU, Whisenhunt is likely to look for wide receiver Zach Ely, who has 16 receptions for 350 yards and six touchdowns.
“We need to hang onto the ball and have extreme ball security to be successful and keep DWU’s offense off the field,” DSU coach Josh Anderson said.
Keeping the DWU offense on the sideline will be crucial for the Trojans, as quarterback Jon Bane, who has a 49 completion percentage, and other weapons have had few problems this year finding the end zone. DWU ranks third in the GPAC in scoring at 36.5 points per game.
“We know trading field goals for touchdowns with DWU won’t work,” Anderson said.
With weather sure to play its part and a night game crowd to contend with on the road, the Tigers will have to stay focused to come home with a winning record.