MAV WATCH: Keys to Colorado Mesa at Colorado Mines
No. 23 Colorado Mesa (2-0, 2-0 RMAC) at No. 10 Colorado Mines (2-0, 2-0 RMAC)
Noon, Today, Marv Kay Stadium, Golden
Radio: KTMM (101.1-FM, 1340-AM)
Video streaming: CMUMavericks.com (Mines feed)
Last week: Colorado Mesa 47, Chadron State 33; Colorado Mines 54, New Mexico Highlands 14
Last meeting/series record: CMU defeated Mines 31-17 last season at Stocker Stadium. Mesa leads the series 29-11.
Keys to the game
Keep Rubalcaba upright: Quarterback Sean Rubalcaba hasn’t been sacked the first two games, and the Mavericks want to keep it that way.
“Offensive line is definitely the most improved part of our offense,” tight end Daniel Perse said. “I have to give a big shout-out to those guys. This is my fourth year playing and this is by far the best offensive line we’ve had. It’s amazing how much that helps.
“I’m a glorified tackle now. I like it. The entire goal is to protect Sean and keep him off the ground.”
Red zone conversions: Mesa has scored in 11 of 12 trips inside the 20 and must keep that going. “We have weapons all across the board, receiver, tight end, running back, quarterback,” Perse said. “We have Eystin (Salum) we can put in there and be a quarterback, wide receiver ... shoot, he can be a tight end. We have all kinds of weapons in the red zone, so we’re comfortable.”
With reliable kicker Ryan Sheehan, Mesa coach Russ Martin knows the Mavs can get at least 3 points, so it takes some pressure off.
“If we get down in the red zone we know we can score points and that makes a lot of difference,” he said.
Balance the attack: The offense isn’t designed to be 50-50, but the Mavericks must take what the defense gives them. “Kind of what we’ve been doing is mixing a lot of run-pass situations, trying to be balanced. That doesn’t mean we’re going to be equal in yards, we want to be equally efficient,” Martin said. “Sean has done a great job doing that and not turning the thing over and I think that’s going to be one of the big things.”
Game-of-the-week hype: “It’s a top-25 matchup, there’s nothing more you can ask for than that,” Perse said. “Who gets to say that? Especially in your own conference and for the (Nyikos) Cup. When you go to Mines, there are so many (CMU) players from that area, it’s a huge fan base and we always get a ton of family and friends and that makes it so much better. The top-25 thing really sinks in toward the end of the week when you get gearing up to go.”
Did you know? Mesa snapped a six-game losing streak against the Orediggers last season, winning the Nyikos Cup for the first time since its inception in 2010. Mike Nyikos was vice president of institutional advancement at Mesa and vice president of student affairs and external relations at Mines. ... RMAC players of the week will be featured: CMU safety Dustin Rivas is the defensive player of the week, kicker Ryan Sheehan the special teams player of the week and CSM tight end Brody Oliver the offensive player of the week. ... Mines QB Justin Dvorak broke the school record for career completions last week and is 166 yards from passing Harlon Hill Trophy winner Chad Friehauf in career passing yardage and is closing in on a 10,000-yard passing career (9,708). ... The Mavericks have not turned the ball over, allowed a quarterback sack or had a field goal attempted against them this season. ... Both teams have scored nearly every time they’ve had the ball in the red zone. Mesa is 11 of 12, with five TDs and six field goals, Mines 8 of 9, all touchdowns.
— Patti Arnold