GAME PREVIEW CAPSULE
New Mexico Highlands University (0-0) at Dixie State University (0-0), 6 p.m., at Legend Solar Stadium
Previous Meeting: These teams have never met.
Broadcast: ESPN SportsRadio 97.7 FM, live stream on DSU portal
Players to watch: At the time of publishing Coach McClure has not named the starting quarterback. He has narrowed the selection to Tyson Blackner and Josh Thompson. At running back, DeJon Coleman is out the first game. Look for Orlando Wallace to get the bulk of the carries. Aubrey Reed returns at wide receiver after suffering an injury and missing 2015. Coach McClure believes his starting offensive line is the best unit on the field. Defensively, safety Colton Olson was a mad man last year, seemingly in on every play. Coach McClure loves his linebackers Garret Hutnick, Peter Brown and Shiloh Pritchard. He believes the Blazers have an edge at that position with speed. The defensive line is packed with experience. Keanu Foki and Remington Kelly on the ends and Darius Mathews and James Lautogia anchoring the middle.
Head Coach: Jeff Mills (2nd year at NMHU, 0-0, 2-9 overall)
Offense: Multiple Pro Style
Defense: Base 3-4
Last Game: Lost to No. 4 CSU-Pueblo 33-7 at home (Nov. 14, 2015)
Players to watch: East Carolina transfer Cody Keith will start at quarterback. This will be the senior’s first start. He passed for over 6,000 yards and 60 touchdowns his last two years in high school. The Cowboys return their top two rushers in Davonte Lynch and Vincent Venegas at running back. Speedy wide receiver James Foster will switch from defense to offense this year. He is joined by two tall receivers, 6-foot-6 Regan Atkins and 6-4 D’mauri Jones. Defensively, safety Eric Smith is the leading returning tackler. Erick Zarate and Jimmy Victorin return as starters at linebacker. Ponepate Faleofa and Corbin Grenowich will anchor the defensive line.
COACH MCCLURE’S PERSPECTIVE
“New Mexico Highlands was in the same situation last year that we find ourselves in this year. I have known Coach Mills for 20 years. He does things right. He brought in a new offensive coordinator this year. So that area is a question mark as far as our preparation. They lost a lot of players to graduation but have brought in several good transfer players, particularly on the offensive and defensive lines. As much as they are a mystery to us, we are a mystery to them. So it will be a guessing game for both teams in the beginning. From a matchup standpoint, I think we are pretty even.”
NMHU was picked to finish one spot ahead of Dixie State in the RMAC preseason poll (8th). The Cowboys were 2-9 last year, but the two victories came in the last three games of the season. Their loss at the end was against nationally ranked CSU-Pueblo, where the Cowboys outgained CSU-P in yardage. However, the Cowboys have to replace heavily on both sides of the ball. The key will be stopping the NMHU running attack, and firing on all cylinders in the offense. DSU fans are interested to see how new offensive coordinator Reilly Murphy uses Blake Barney. Barney led the team in rushing and total offense as the starting quarterback in seven games last year. This year he has gotten reps at various positions and is listed on the roster as QB/RB/WR.
STGNews Prediction: DSU starts out season with win 28-17.
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