Game Preview Capsule: West. Oregon (3-3) at Dixie State (2-4)

Western Oregon (3-3, 3-2) at Dixie State (2-4, 2-3) today, 6 p.m., Hansen Stadium
Previous Meeting: Wildcats 51, Red Storm 32 (Sept. 21, 2013 at WOU)
Broadcast: ESPN SportsRadio 106.1 FM; TV, CEC-22

rp_primary_WOU_Shield_WebHead Coach: Arne Ferguson (9th year, 54-38)
Offense: Multiple, One Back
Defense: Pro 4-3
Last Game: Beat Humboldt State, 38-21
PPG: 28.3
Players to watch:
The Wolves are led by QB Ryan Bergman, who had 417 passing yards and six TDs the first time these two teams met. WOU spreads the wealth when it comes to receptions. The top three receivers are Tyrell WIlliams (season totals are 33 catches, 459 yards, 3 TDs), Michael Reeve (24-321, 2) and Antoinne Wafer (21-290-5). Three of Wafer’s TDs came vs. Dixie state in September. They do not run the ball much, but running back Joe Harris is capable of big games as evidenced last week when he ran for 182 yards on 24 carries.
Trend: WOU is currently one game behind the league leaders. To keep pace they will have to show that they can continue their high-flying aeronautical attack on the road. Bergman is a smart field general and manages the offense well. After opening the season 0-2, the Wolves have won three of four games. WOU is definitely a second-half team: The Wolves have been outscored 97-59 before halftime this year, but have beaten opponents 113-62 after intermission, including 78-43 in fourth quarters. Last week, they led Humboldt 17-14 after three quarters, but won the game 38-21.

dsulogoHead coach:
Scott Brumfeld (4th year, 8-30 overall)
Offense: Pistol, Pro Set
Defense: Pro 4-3
Last Game: Lost at Central Washington, 27-24
PPG: 29.7
PAPG: 31.7
Players to watch: While the numbers were not as gaudy as the previous two games, Griff Robles and the offense still put up decent numbers against Central Washington, the defensive leaders in the GNAC. In the loss, the Red Storm outplayed CWU in all facets of the game. Look for another big game from Robles and his weapons, Joe Don Duncan, Mitch Frei and Myles Burton. Defensively Jake Duncan, Robert Metz and Nick Largent will have to play opportunistically. The Wolves like to throw it, but Bergman’s favorite targets are his running backs. Defensive coordinator Derek Campbell will have to mix up his blitzes to apply pressure.
Trend: The offense has not only produced, but has also cut down on the turnovers deep in their territory, forcing opponents to drive the length of the field. Even in the close loss last week, DSU had a 100-yard rusher in Burton and two 100-yard receivers in Duncan and Frei. The Storm started the year 0-3 and panic began to set in, it seemed. But two quality wins and a near-miss have DSU thinking this year could turn into something special. Now’s the time as they have two straight winnable home games followed by a trip to the Great White North and Simon Fraser.

This is a match-up between GNAC’s top two offenses. So the question that needs to be answered is, will one of the defenses step up? Both teams run multiple packages on offense and are difficult to prepare for. Even though DSU put up 32 points against WOU earlier this year, they also made key mistakes, putting the defense in bad situations. If Robles can continue to play as he has the last three weeks and keep the offense on the field, Dixie will avenge the earlier loss this year.

STGnews Prediction: Red Storm 48, Wolves 34

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