Dragons next challenge for No. 17 MNSU

Following their win against St. Cloud, the 17th ranked Minnesota State Mavericks are set to play at home against a high-octane Minnesota State Moorhead Dragons team this Saturday.

The Mavericks will be focusing their efforts towards improving their 2-1 record against a Moorhead team that also holds a 2-1 record this season. MNSU’s Head Coach Todd Hoffner had a lot to say about a program possibly on the rise in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference (NSIC).

“They’ve improved a ton, they’ve invested more money into their program and the fans are definitely going to see a very potent offense and a very fast game,” Hoffner said.

The Dragons have a balanced offensive attack lead by junior quarterback Demetrius Carr. In three games, the Dragons have totaled an impressive 755 yards through the air. The running game is lead by sophomore running back Austin Stone. In three games this season Stone has rushed for over 80 yards in each game, while scoring in two. In their first game of the season, Carr even rushed for 63 yards and a touchdown, according to Minnesota State Moorhead’s athletic site. The Mavericks will have to try and contain the run game and prevent getting beat on any big plays. The big play ability of Moorhead is going to be one of Hoffner’s biggest concerns coming into the game.

“They’re explosive, last year they beat an NCAA Division-II playoff team during the regular season. They’re explosive on offense and they’re athletic and fast on defense.” Hoffner said. “It’s going to be quite a football game; they’ve done a good at job with their program.”

It’s the fast tempo and speed of the Dragons offense that reminds Hoffner of a Bemidji State team that reeked havoc on his defense just a few weeks ago. The Mavericks will have to step up on defense to limit the offense of the Dragons and keep points off the board.

“From a speed standpoint, it will be much like the Bemidji State game. There will be a ton of plays run and they’re going to try and go fast and put us in stressful situations.” Hoffner said.

Good play-calling and proper execution by players like quarterback Nick Pieruccini and wide receivers Ty. Dennis and Brent Esser are what led the Mavericks to a road victory over the St. Cloud State Huskies. Continuing efforts from starters like Pierucinni, Dennis, and Esser will be important to walk out of the game Saturday with a win, but even Hoffner knows that he and his coaching staff have to put his players in the right positions to make plays.

“We need to be prepared. We need to put our guys in positions to make plays, and that’s up to the coaches to make sure everybody knows what they’re doing.” Hoffner said. “When the ball’s snapped, we have got to play fast, keep things in front of us, and be aggressive and assertive.”
Proper execution and preparation showed to have a major impact on the game against St. Cloud and it will more then likely prove to be important against a Moorhead team that will give the Mavericks a lot of different looks. It’s the fast tempo of the Moorhead offense that will give the defense fits and Hoffner knows it.

“We need to understand our alignments then attack, react and make plays those are things that are really important for us to be successful.” Hoffner said.

The Mavericks defense will need to be on their A-game and their offense will have to show consistency to leave Blakeslee Stadium with a 3-1 record on the season. Kickoff will be at 1 p.m. at Blakeslee Stadium.

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