Though Dickinson State has a 1-2 record, so far, the Blue Hawks haven’t let the wide-open offenses of Frontier Conference teams eat them up.
The Blue Hawks rank first in the league in pass defense (173.3 yards per game) and third in the total defense (351.7 yards).
Their defensive resolve will likely be tested on Saturday when they make the program’s first plane trip to face Southern Oregon – also in its first season in the Frontier – for the first time in school history in Ashland, Ore.
The Raiders aren’t just a team who likes to put the football in the air. Through two games, they have the NAIA’s best offense (555 yards per game) and are its most effective passing team.
Sophomore quarterback Austin Dodge leads the NAIA with 352 yards per game He also leads in total offense with 373.5 yards. Senior receiver Cole McKenzie leads the nation with 169 receiving yards per game, and has 19 receptions and three touchdowns.
“We know we’ve got to be at the top of our game if we’re going to be in that game,” DSU head coach Hank Biesiot said Monday.
Southern Oregon (1-1, 1-1 Frontier) doesn’t just pass either. In their first two games, they actually averaged 199 yards rushing. That ranks first in the Frontier.
Comparatively, DSU is averaging 178 yards rushing through three games. Senior quarterback Dave Velasquez is averaging 162 yards passing.
Second-year head coach Craig Howard looks to Dodge to employ a no-huddle offense that makes sure it is on the field as much as possible. The Raiders ran 85 plays in a 54-21 win over Montana Western and 97 in a 52-30 loss against Rocky Mountain on Sept. 8. They were idle last Saturday.
“It is kind of a conflict of styles,” Howard said. “They’re very physical, very solid fundamentals football team. We’re kind of wild and crazy.”
The game will be Southern Oregon’s first actual “home” game this season at Raider Stadium. They played their season opener just up the road in Medford, Ore., and visited Rocky. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. MDT.