Mav Watch, Sept. 22, 2017

Fort Lewis (1-2, 1-2 RMAC)
at Colorado Mesa (3-0, 3-0 RMAC)

Today, 7 p.m., Stocker Stadium

Radio: KTMM (101.1-FM)

Video streaming:

Last week: Colorado Mesa 38, Colorado Mines 36; Adams State 34, Fort Lewis 27

Previous meeting: CMU 34, FLC 28, Durango

Series: 44th meeting; CMU leads 31-11-1, 15-6 at home

Rankings: Colorado Mesa No. 11 AFCA, No. 18

Three keys

Penalties: Major penalties have to stop. CMU coach Russ Martin said he can live with procedure penalties, the occasional hold, even an inadvertent facemask. What he can’t stomach any longer are personal fouls and unsportsmanlike conduct calls. Mesa leads the RMAC in penalties (36-316, 105 yards per game), and is the fifth-most penalized of the 168 Division II teams.

Last week, the Mavericks were flagged 12 times for 125 yards, four personal fouls and one unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. A double-whammy came on an illegal block during the runback of an interception, with an unsportsmanlike conduct call for tossing the ball high in the air after the play. Instead of having the ball at the Mines 37, the Mavs were back on their own 29. Mesa drove to the Mines 11, but a holding call pushed the ball back to the 33. Ryan Sheehan’s 50-yard field goal attempt was short.

“We cost ourselves a minimum of three, but I think we cost ourselves a touchdown,” Martin said. “Now we go into the half not just having a lead, but having just scored two touchdowns in the last couple of minutes in the first half. That’s a major difference.”

In the third quarter, Mines missed a field goal, but a holding call on CMU gave the Orediggers another chance. A personal foul gave the ‘Diggers first and goal from the 5, and they scored a touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter to take a 24-21 lead.

“I love the passion our guys play with, but some of the guys have to control that passion in the course of a game,” said Martin, who added some players will miss the first half tonight because of penalties.

Take control, keep control: Fort Lewis likes to play ball control, and it nearly worked last season, building a 28-17 lead in Durango before the Mavericks scored 17 points in a 5-minute span of the fourth quarter to escape with a 34-28 victory.

“They were playing keep-away with the dang football and they can do that with how they play offensively,” Martin said.

Field position will be critical.

“Anyone you can win the field position on it’s going to give you an edge,” Martin said. “You’re not going to get as many possessions against a team like this, so make each possession count. Gain yards, gain field position or get points.”

Ignore next week: The coaches have put all of their focus on Fort Lewis, not next week’s game at CSU-Pueblo. Game prep for the T-Wolves will start Sunday.

“Coaching all these years, you start looking ahead, they’re looking at so much stuff they don’t remember if it applies to this week or next week,” Martin said. “I want my focus and the players’ focus on the game at hand.”

Scouting report

Fort Lewis is first in the RMAC in time of possession (34:22) and CMU is last (25:19), but Mesa is third in scoring offense (37 points per game) and Fort Lewis is 10th (21 per game). Of the Mavericks’ 14 touchdown drives this season, only two have taken more than three minutes. Four offensive TDs have been scored on the first or second play of the drive.

The Skyhawks control the clock behind running back PJ Hall, who is only 5-foot-5, but is a powerful runner, averaging 81.7 yards rushing per game. Tyler Telphy rushed for 125 yards against Adams State and averages 76 yards a game, and quarterback Bo Coleman can also run (44 yards per game). He doesn’t throw as much as some other quarterbacks (61 attempts in three games) but is dangerous on roll-out and bootleg passes.

“He is strong and powerful,” Martin said of Hall. “Last year he was the guy who probably got more yards after contact than anybody in the conference. He hides and just explodes out. He’s a guy you’ve got to worry about. With what they’re doing you can’t consistently let him fall forward for that extra yard or two yards. He’s going to fall forward and it’s a good chance of it being a first down.”

Martin wants Mesa’s defense to play the way it did against Western State, with 15 of 18 possessions six plays or fewer.

“That’s the kind of defense we want to play, get off the field, get the ball back in the hands of our offense,” Martin said. “Let’s get to where we’re playing from ahead, and now if a team wants to chew up clock, no problem.”

Did you know?

Safety Dustin Rivas, who left last week’s game after a blindside hit, is expected to play tonight. OLB Blake Brockett returned to practice this week after being fitted with a brace for his left elbow, which he dislocated in the season opener. OLB Carlos Aviles is no longer wearing a boot on his right foot, but has not returned to practice.

— Patti Arnold


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