Mav Watch, Sept. 15, 2017
Colorado Mines (1-1, 1-1 RMAC) at Colorado Mesa (2-0, 2-0 RMAC)
Today, 1 p.m., Stocker Stadium
Radio: KTMM (101.1-FM)
Video streaming: CMUMavericks.com
Last week: Colorado Mesa 24, Chadron State 10; Colorado Mines 70, New Mexico Highlands 0
Previous meeting: CMU 41, Mines 40, 2OT, Golden
Series: 43rd meeting; CMU leads 30-12, 15-4 at home
Rankings: Colorado Mesa No. 11 AFCA, No. 20 D2football.com; Colorado Mines receiving votes AFCA
Open-field tackling: Colorado Mines will mix short passes with shots downfield. CMU must limit yards after the catch.
“One of the big keys is being able to tackle in the open field,” coach Russ Martin said. “That was the key last year, we didn’t give them a lot of yards after catches. There’s going to be some good throws, some great catches; what we can’t do is let a throw and a catch become another 20 yards, or even another 5 or 6 yards. We have to be able to make tackles and keep the big play from happening.”
Field position: The Mavs started five drives in Chadron territory after punts last week, and punter Austin Pitchford kept the Eagles pinned deep — Chadron’s average field position to start drives was its own 22. After returning three kicks for TDs in the opener (although they were all called back on penalties), CMU’s return men know teams will likely kick away from them more often than not.
“I don’t think we’re going to see a whole lot of deep kicks. I hope we do,” Martin said. “We’ve got some guys who are really explosive back there if they get the opportunity. What we’re sharing with our guys is they can’t be complacent and say they’re just going to kick it short. We have to expect them to kick it deep and then we have to react if they kick it short. We still want to get the ball advanced 10, 15, 20 yards if we can.”
Give the defense a break: Mesa’s defense was on the field for 98 plays at Chadron, but only gave up 10 points.
Part of getting the defense off the field is on the offense to sustain drives and put points on the board, but part is on the defense to avoid penalties and create turnovers.
“Three or four times in the second half alone we had penalties on third down that allowed them to keep the drive going,” Martin said. “We had five or six tipped balls, just missed off our finger tips that an interception would have allowed us to get off the field. That’s something we can get better at.
“The thing with Mines is, they’ll throw the ball all over the place and they’re still going to run the ball. It’ll be a major test for our guys this week against a team that lives for throwing the football and yet they’re still really good running the ball.”
The Orediggers rolled up a whopping 672 yards of offense in the rout of Highlands last week. Quarterback Ben Bottlinger only threw the ball 11 times for 210 yards because Mines ran at will (462 yards). Cameron Mayberry was one of two ‘Diggers to rush for more than 100 yards, rumbling for 189 and three touchdowns on 11 carries. Josh Odom had 20 carries for 118 yards and two TDs.
Mines still has the most dangerous receiver in the conference, All-American Brody Oliver, who led Division II in receiving yards (1,627), points (156) and touchdowns (26) last season.
“They can run the ball and they throw the ball very well,” Martin said. “If you look at them, they throw a lot of the quick game, which makes you defend the perimeter, but they’ll also get you down the field. They’ve got a couple of guys who can stretch the field really well. If they get Oliver and (Riley) Hoff one-on-one, they’re outstanding receivers.”
Offensively, the Mavericks need to pick up any wrinkles the Orediggers might throw in, as Chadron did last week. They were slow to pick up a couple of blitzes, resulting in sacks, and quarterback Eystin Salum got antsy at times.
“They brought some pressures at times they hadn’t shown,” Martin said. “We should be able to pick those things up, we had a couple of guys who hadn’t seen it, but you have to recognize it. A couple (Salum) tried to get rid of the ball too quick, where if he just holds the thing and reads and stays with the progression, deeper route back to the shorter route ... one we had the tight end down the chute and one where Josh Brown was wide open. Those are two easy touchdowns.”
Martin half-joked that the Mavs are prepping for multiple overtimes again.
“We’ve told our guys, be prepared, you may be playing for 60 minutes, but if it’s four or five or six overtimes, then we’ll do that, but let’s win,” he said. “We’ve got lights.”
Did you know?
Outside linebackers Carlos Aviles (foot) and Blake Brockett (elbow) are still out. Brockett got the splint off his left elbow, which was dislocated against Western State, this week and said Tuesday he hopes to return next week. Aviles’ right foot is still in a boot. ... Safety Dustin Rivas is tied with Vic Dutandette (1985-86) with 17 career interceptions.
— Patti Arnold