Mav Watch, Sept. 9, 2017

Colorado Mesa (1-0, 1-0 RMAC) at Chadron St. (1-0, 1-0 RMAC)

Saturday, Noon, Elliott Field at Don Beebe Stadium, Chadron, Nebraska

Radio: KTMM (101.1-FM)

Video streaming:

Last week: Colorado Mesa 49, Western State 23; Chadron State 25, Fort Lewis 19

Previous meeting: CMU 47, Chadron St. 33, Stocker Stadium

Series: 27th meeting; Chadron State leads 19-7

Rankings: Colorado Mesa No. 17 AFCA, No. 22

Three keys

Reserve play: CMU coach Russ Martin emphasized this week that he expects the Mavericks’ backups to play more consistently than they did in the season opener. The coaching staff doesn’t want to see any dropoff when the Mavs go to the bench.

Stay healthy: It’s a key for every team every week, but for the Mavericks, who were ravaged by injuries in the first five weeks of last season, having their top guys in top condition allows them to play their up-tempo style.

“When we’re healthy, you could see it,” Martin said. “We were running around the field all over the place defensively, and offensively we were sprinting around the field. We’re going to keep that pace up, and that’s what we want to have as far as our tempo. We want our defense to be able to answer any tempo, and by practicing against our own guys, we can do that. From our situation, it’s great to be healthy.”

Cut down penalties: The Mavericks were flagged 11 times for 81 yards last week, including three major penalties (one hold, two illegal blocks) on kick returns to wipe out touchdowns.

Scouting report

Injuries prompted two changes on CMU’s depth chart, both outside linebackers: Carlos Aviles is out with a right foot injury (he’s in a walking boot), and Blake Brockett is out with a left elbow injury. Redshirt freshman Marco Garcia, who recorded six tackles last week after Aviles was injured, will start at the weak-side linebacker spot, with freshman Uriah Vigil moving into the strong-side spot for Brockett. Vigil played high school football for former Maverick linebacker Jay Madden at Pomona.

Chadron State showed the ability to rally, spotting Fort Lewis a 16-point lead in Durango before roaring back to win 25-19 last week. The Eagles are playing two quarterbacks, senior Matt Vinson and redshirt freshman Dalton Holst, as sophomore TD Stein gets healthy, and rotating the two worked against the Skyhawks. Holst is expected to start.

“Our guys know when we go up there, it’s going to be a game we need to win up in the trenches. If we let them win the line of scrimmage, they like to pound the ball and hammer it and it gives them a lot of different choices in their offense,” Martin said.

Vinson completed 8 of 11 passes for 149 yards and two touchdowns and Holst was 6 for 12 for 101 yards and one TD. Holst also caught one 5-yard pass. Both quarterbacks can stretch the field — Vinson threw a 57-yard TD pass and Holst a 75-yarder, so Martin and safety Dustin Rivas said the secondary will have to play well.

“Our base defense allows our secondary to be in great position,” said Rivas, who intercepted his 17th career pass last week, tying the school record. “We’ve got four guys in our secondary who I really trust, and they take great pride in not allowing their guy to catch the ball. I’ll take our secondary over any receiving corps, really.”

Derek Jackson and Kevin Coy split Chadron’s carries last week, combining for 98 yards. The Eagles’ defense allowed only 49 yards passing, but 215 yards rushing, against Fort Lewis. The Mavericks’ read-option offense tries to capitalize on what the defense gives it.

“I think there is maybe a little misconception when people look at us because we are very open offensively in the spread with a lot of things we do, but we are still a physical football team first and that’s what we’re going to continue to be,” Martin said.

“If you want to say, gosh, you’ve got to defend Eystin (Salum) as a quarterback as a runner, well, it’s going to open up the perimeter passing. If you’re going to say, OK, we have to defend the perimeter, we’ve got some outstanding running backs. That’s a great thing for us because that makes it virtually impossible to double somebody.”

Did you know?

Salum picked up two weekly awards after accounting for all seven of CMU’s touchdowns, five passing and two rushing, against Western State. He was the RMAC offensive player of the week and the National Football Foundation’s Colorado player of the week. ... Russ Martin played linebacker at Chadron State and received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees there. Defensive coordinator Ben Martin got his master’s at Chadron and was on the Eagles’ staff before joining his father at CMU. ... Senior running back Jonathon Beverly is listed No. 2 on the depth chart, but did not play last week as Mesa awaits clarification from the NCAA on his eligibility. ... After 11 straight losses to Chadron, the Mavs have won the past two meetings.

— Patti Arnold


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