Pregame Capsule: Dixie State to battle No. 20 C. Washington tonight

Dixie State University football | File photo by Robert Hoppie,, St. George News

Central Washington University (3-0) at Dixie State University (1-2), 6 p.m. at Legend Solar Stadium in St. George, UT
Previous Meeting: Central Washington beat Dixie State 40-18 at home (Sep. 14, 2016). Dixie State suffered through worst road loss of season while still recovering from injuries.
Overall Series Record: CWU leads series 15-2
Broadcast: CEC-TV (TDS Channel 22), ESPN SportsRadio 97.7 FM

Head coach: Shay McClure (2nd year, 1-2, 7-7 overall)
Offense: Pro Set, Multiple
Offensive Average: 24.6
Defense: Pro 4-3
Defensive Average: 24.6
Last Game: Beat Black Hills State last week 38-14
Players to watch: Dixie State jumped out of its slump in a big way. They were firing on all cylinders last week. Malik Watson threw for two touchdowns and Blake Barney ran for two more from the QB position. Running back Jeffrey Coprich’s flash and dash is a good changeup from Sei-J Lauago’s hard nose approach. Orlando Wallace only had two catches but they both went for paydirt. Defensively Remington Kelly made great plays from his defensive end position. Mike Jones and Trayvon Watson were right behind him in tackles. The defensive backfield was solid.

Head Coach: Ian Shoemaker (3rd year at CSU 3-0, 22-12 overall)
Offense: Multiple Spread
Offensive Average: 27.0
Defense: Nickel
Defensive Average: 16.3
Last Game: Beat Azusa Pacific 17-16 last week
Players to watch: CWU averages 421 yards per game on offense (199 rush, 222 pass), led by quarterback Reilly Hennessey. His favorite targets are Nate Rauda (17 catches) and Christian Gasca (11 catches). CWU platoons at running back, led by Christian Cummings. Senior defensive back Jackson Huerta leads the team with 27 tackles. Senior linebacker Kevin Haynes is close behind with 21 tackles.

This is Dixie State’s sole non-conference game this year. But CWU is a familiar foe. Dixie State has played them at least once and many times twice a year as a member of the GNAC. The Trailblazers finally put together a complete game last week (except for the two early turnovers). Whether that comes from playing in friendly confines or the team gelling is hard to say. CWU is 3-0 in the early season, including a one-point win over No. 5 preseason nationally-ranked Azusa Pacific last week. CWU climbed into the national rankings this past week at No. 20. The Wildcats tough defense have yet to meet the Malik Watson/Blake Barney combo. Dixie State will have to cut down on the turnovers though.

STGNEWS PREDICTION: It will be a shootout. Central Washington 35, Dixie State 28.

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