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DWU football looks for the upset

It's the second straight week a ranked Great Plains Athletic Conference opponent comes to Joe Quintal Field. Today, the Dakota Wesleyan University Tigers welcome fifth-ranked Northwestern College at 7 p.m.

Dakota Wesleyan University's Luke Loudenburg carries the ball on Sept. 15 against Morningside College at Joe Quintal Field. DWU's Zach Duin (62) and Morningside's David Rios (98) are in the background. (Jeremy Karll / Republic)
Dakota Wesleyan University's Luke Loudenburg carries the ball on Sept. 15 against Morningside College at Joe Quintal Field. DWU's Zach Duin (62) and Morningside's David Rios (98) are in the background. (Jeremy Karll / Republic)

It's the second straight week a ranked Great Plains Athletic Conference opponent comes to Joe Quintal Field. Today, the Dakota Wesleyan University Tigers welcome fifth-ranked Northwestern College at 7 p.m.

The Tigers (1-2, 0-1 GPAC) are looking to rebound from a 66-13 loss to second-ranked Morningside College on Sept. 15, while the Red Raiders (3-0, 2-0) defeated No. 24 Midland University 49-20.

Here are three things to look for in today's game between Dakota Wesleyan and Northwestern:

Offensive line play

Shaye Slaughter was on the ground often against Morningside, leading to him missing Tuesday's practice with a lower leg injury. Although, DWU head coach Ross Cimpl called it a "mental rep day," and said it wasn't serious.

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Still, DWU's offensive line will have to give Slaughter more time in the pocket on Saturday. Cimpl said the Tigers' line is looking at schematic adjustments and putting a focus on details.

Northwestern only averages one sack per game this season, but it records five tackles for loss per contest, thanks to an impressive defensive line.

"Their D-line's stats aren't going to blow you away from the standpoint they don't have one guy with 10 sacks," Cimpl said. "But if you actually watch the film, the reason their defense is the way it is is because no one is blocking their linebackers because there's so much emphasis on their D-line."

Running the ball

DWU was held to 35 rushing yards on 31 carries against Morningside, including Luke Loudenburg rushing for just 20 yards on 18 tries.

It won't get any easier this week as Northwestern's 114 rushing yards (3.4 yards per carry) allowed per game is the second-lowest mark in the GPAC this season. If DWU can establish the run early on Saturday, it could find more offensive success. Although to do so, it will take a team effort.

"To be able to throw the ball effectively, we have to be able to run it effectively," Cimpl said. "Up front, our running backs and schemes have to be better."

Stopping the run

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Northwestern's run game extends beyond "probably the fastest running back in the conference," according to Cimpl, in Jacob Kalogonis, who has 390 yards and four touchdowns in 2018.

Quarterback Tyson Kooima has also ran for 168 and three scores, helping Northwestern rank third in the GPAC in rushing yards per game and second in rushing touchdowns. DWU hasn't faced a dual-threat quarterback yet this season, which provides an extra challenge for a defense giving up the most rushing yards per game in the conference.

"Sometimes, especially in the run game, you're playing 10 on 11 if the quarterback isn't a (running) threat, but now it's 11 on 11," Cimpl said. "I don't know if it necessarily changes our scheme, but it emphasizes every single player even more."

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