Dakota Wesleyan University has had success during its home openers over the past eight seasons. It’s gone 6-2 in such games, though just 2-2 in the past four years.
The Tigers will try to keep their good fortune going against Presentation College at 1 p.m. today at Joe Quintal Field, with both teams coming off a close loss in Week 1. DWU fell by three points (33-30) to Dakota State University, while the Saints lost 28-26 to Trinity International University (Illinois).
Here are three things to watch for when DWU and Presentation take the field today.
Familiar face leading PC’s defense
Presentation overhauled its coaching staff this season under first-year coach Steve Heimann, who dipped into DWU’s coaching room for help.
Jason Glasco is the Saints’ new defensive coordinator after spending the last seven years as DWU’s linebackers coach. The move has already paid dividends for a team which allowed Shaye Slaughter to set DWU’s passing record against it last year.
The Saints allowed 43.6 points and 523.2 yards per game last season, which ranked 82nd and 87th, respectively, out of 90 NAIA teams. In Glasco’s first week, they held Trinity International to 28 points on 292 yards, while also intercepting three passes and recording seven tackles for loss.
“He knows all of our calls, he knows everything we do. He built more than half of our defense,” DWU coach Ross Cimpl said. “... I’m not saying we’ll know what he’s doing and (he’ll know) what we’re doing, but both teams are probably pretty comfortable because defensively what we’ve seen on film is very similar to what we do at times, too.”
DWU’s offensive play-calling
DWU’s desire to ease Mitchell native Kiel Nelson into his collegiate debut against the Trojans was evident, with Canova native Luke Loudenburg rushing 17 times in the first half. That could change this week, though.
Nelson had continued to improve on his reads and has shown more confidence in his decision-making. He also shook off an up-and-down start to his debut by leading a game-tying drive in the fourth quarter.
Nelson threw for 71 of his 143 yards on DWU’s final drive in regulation, concluding with a 17-yard touchdown to Mitchell native Spencer Neugebauer.
“I thought he really grew up in the second half,” Cimpl said. “Didn’t really play like a freshman -- I think our play calls probably reflected that in the second half especially.”
The Saints’ playmakers
Presentation also enters with a new quarterback in Hunter Giffrow, who threw for 282 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions -- one of his picks came on a Hail Mary to end the game.
“I think he plays (like) more than just a freshman,” Cimpl said. “And a lot of things we’re saying about Kiel going into his second game is the same exact thing they’re thinking with their quarterback.”
He faces a defense which allowed Torren Devericks to throw for 189 yards and a touchdown as he oftentimes found open receivers over the middle due to DWU selling out to stop the run.
The Tigers don’t have one player to hone in on this week, though. Theryne Jimenez led the team with six catches and 143 yards, but Dylan Paulson also caught six passes. John Oldenkamp reeled in three while leading the team in rushing (81 yards), while Trey Pajimula gained 41 yards on a team-high 16 rushes.
“He throws the ball well, he has some great targets on the outside,” Cimpl said. “They have all kinds of different running backs on the field at different spots -- at receiver, in the backfield. Offensively, they present some challenges with what they do schematically.”
Note: Starting defensive end Alan Murtic is expected to start for the Tigers after suffering an ankle injury in Week 1, which kept him out of the first half. He went through drills early in Wednesday’s practice, with Cimpl saying they have been “extra cautious” with him