Colorado Mesa vs. Western State
Colorado Mesa (5-4, 4-3 RMAC) AT Western State Colorado (1-7, 1-5 RMAC)
Kickoff: 1 p.m., Saturday, Mountaineer Bowl, Gunnison.
On the Air: 1230-AM (KEXO).
Internet: Visit http://www.cmumavericks.com for live stats and streaming video. Follow Allen Gemaehlich on Twitter (@allen_gjsports) for live in-game analysis.
Third-ranked CSU-Pueblo defeated Colorado Mesa 34-6 in Pueblo.
Colorado Mines rallied to defeat Western State 14-13 in Golden.
Colorado Mesa leads the all-time series 21-17, including 11-4 in Gunnison. The Mavericks have won the past eight games and 11 of the past 13 meetings.
About Western State
■ The Mountaineers lead the RMAC in rushing defense, allowing 115.5 yards per game, but are last in pass defense, surrendering 329.9 yards per game.
■ The Mountaineers have lost three games by a total of four points this season and are 1-4 when leading after three quarters.
■ Western State has 11 players from Western Slope high schools, but six of them are redshirting this year. Fruita Monument grads Vince Grasso (RB) and Spencer Fair (kicker) and Olathe grad Zach Stansberry (LB) play several downs a game.
■ Freshman running back Austin Ekeler is second in the RMAC in rushing, averaging 109.9 yards per game. The Mountaineers rush for 125.3 yards per game.
What Coach Jas Bains says
■ About Western State’s season: “We’re improved in areas, but we’ve got to learn how to finish. We’ve had four games come down to the fourth quarter and (we were) in the lead (and lost). We play hard and compete for three quarters, but we’ve got to find a way to finish.”
■ About Western State’s defense: “For the most part, we’re good against the run game, but we’ve got to improve against the pass. I’m pleased how well we played last week against a good passing offense. We’ve been able to get some turnovers the last few weeks to help us out.”
■ About the Mountaineers’ offense: “We probably throw the ball more than we run the ball. We’ve been able to run the ball fairly decent in most of our games this year. Austin’s had a pretty good year. We have a redshirt freshman at quarterback. He’s still young and makes freshman mistakes, but he does a great job. He puts in the time and puts us in the right plays. He protects the ball.”
■ About the Western Slope players on his roster: “Spencer Fair has a big leg and a lot of touchbacks. Vince started playing in the fourth or fifth game for us. He’s a big part of our special teams. He’ll do nothing but improve. We have some others that are redshirting. We’re excited about them. Zac Griggs (Fruita Monument) was close to playing this year. They are a great fit for what we do. They are high-character kids and do a great job in the classroom.”
■ About Colorado Mesa: “We haven’t been able to finish games, and they have finished games in the fourth quarter. They have a handful of guys offensively that can carry the ball. They have some receivers that can make some plays. Defensively, they’ve had a huge year. They are good in the running game, and they create a lot of turnovers.”
About Colorado Mesa
■ The Mavericks lead all NCAA teams, regardless of divisions, with 22 interceptions. The single-season school record for interceptions is 23, set in 2005 and 2007. Mike Brady leads the team with six. Jordan Price has five.
■ Colorado Mesa ranks second in the nation in red-zone defense (.545) and 18th in scoring defense (18 points per game). The Mavs limited CSU-Pueblo to a season-low 34 points last week.
■ Senior LB Jake Edmiston has 141 tackles this season and leads the nation in total tackles (15.7 per game). He needs 41 tackles to break Daryl McKinnerny’s single-season school record of 181. CMU nominated Edmiston for the Harlon Hill Award, given to the top player annually in Division II. He is the Mavs’ first nominee since Bobby Coy (2008).
■ WR Nate Neville (foot) and DT Zach Beach (shoulder) are doubtful.
What Coach Russ Martin says
■ About last week’s loss to CSU-Pueblo: “That game was a lot closer than 34-6. If you look at it, the first 10 points came off short fields. Other than one drive late in the first half, they didn’t move the ball on us. We’re not good enough yet to overcome the mistakes we had.”
■ About the Mavericks’ QB situation: “It’s a standpoint because of the discipline situation (with Aric Kaiser), (the starter is) a little bit up in the air. It’s a matter of how they perform in practice this week. You could see any one of the three or all three.”
■ About nominating Edmiston for the Harlon Hill Award: “I know there’s never been a defensive guy win it, but he’s leading the nation in tackles. He’s a great long-snapper. He ought to be a first team academic All-American. What is there not about the kid that isn’t Harlon Hill-type candidate?”
■ About the Mountaineers: “Their record is not indicative of their team. They are a good, solid football team. They could’ve easily won that game against Mines last week. Traditionally, they are one of the better defenses in the conference. They’ll be solid. Their special teams do a good job, and they do some good things on offense.”
■ About the rivalry with Western State: “Last year is a great example. We’re up 22-19, and they’re kicking a field goal to tie it and it went wide right. I expect it to be a good, tight game.”
— Allen Gemaehlich