GAME TIME: 1 p.m.
SITE: Memorial Stadium in Wayne, Neb.
RECORDS: SCSU 1-2 NSIC, 1-2 overall; Wayne State 3-0 NSIC, 3-0 overall
SERIES: SCSU leads 9-2
LAST MEETING: Wayne State won 41-20 in 2009 in Nebraska
LAST WEEK: SCSU lost 25-21 to MSU-Mankato; Wayne State beat Bemidji State 20-17
Wayne State (Neb.) head football coach Dan McLaughlin called St. Cloud State “a wounded bear” as the Huskies head south to face his Wildcats for a 1 p.m. NSIC game Saturday.
McLaughlin didn’t expect one of the NSIC preseason favorites to be 1-2 at this point. But the eighth-year head coach had many good things to say about the Huskies, namely about their defense and quarterback.
“Their size on defense is our No. 1 concern,” he said. “Their nose guard (Chris Rupe) is outstanding and their two linebackers are very good. That’s really what you want. They’re good down the middle. That’s what you want in baseball, and football. They’re good from the inside and out.”
As for SCSU quarterback Phillip Klaphake, McLaughlin said: “We have to disrupt his rhythm. That’s what you have to do with any good quarterback. If you don’t do that, they’ll shred you. He’s capable of doing that.”
SCSU’S OFFENSIVE LINE WOES
St. Cloud State head coach Scott Underwood was fairly frank when talking about his team’s offensive line play through the first three weeks of the season.
The Huskies are 13th in the NSIC in rushing at 93.3 yards per game. With having a stout running game the past few years, that number is eye-opening, even with three new starters up front.
“The biggest thing that has stuck out to me about the 1-2 start is our inability to run the ball,” Underwood said. “We have to sustain drives and run the ball. That gives us a chance to win. We’ve tried to live off one big play. We’ve gone three-and-out a lot. It always seems like we’re fighting out of a hole.”
Wayne State won’t be easy to run on. The Wildcats have the No. 3 rushing defense in the NSIC, having only given up an average of 79.3 yards per game.
“We knew we’d be playing some good teams early on here,” Underwood said. “It doesn’t get easier the next two weeks with Wayne and UMD. Our inexperience on the line has shown up with our run status. We have to continue to work on it and improve.”
SEFON SETTLING IN AT CORNERBACK
Redshirt freshman Jordan Sefon has started the last two weeks at cornerback opposite Jack Moro. The Richfield native is taking place of the injured Marvin Matthews.
Sefon has 11 tackles through the first three games of the season. He got his first start at Upper Iowa.
Sefon was more than a little nervous for his first collegiate start two weeks ago.
“I had to get the nerves out a little bit. But as the game continued I got into it,” he said. “I have to make sure I’m in it from the beginning. It took me a few snaps.”
Sefon and the SCSU secondary will have to deal with Wayne State wide receiver Kevin Paulsen on Saturday. Paulsen has 14 catches for 180 yards with a TD this season. The Huskies also have to be aware of wideout Adam Stark, who has nine catches for 267 yards and three scores.
“We’re keying on the pass this week in practice. They have a couple of receivers who run deep routes well. We have to cover that up. Stopping the run is important and we’ll try our best there,” Sefon said.
The Huskies’ pass defense is ranked 13th in the NSIC. SCSU is giving up 270 yards per game through the air. That can’t continue if SCSU wants to turn things around quickly.
* Wayne lost starting right guard Tyler DeWit to a season-ending ankle injury in the first game of the season against MSU-Moorhead.
* SCSU hasn’t started 1-2 since the 2009 season.
* The Huskies have blocked four kicks in the first three games of the season. Moro blocked an extra-point attempt against Mankato last week.
* The last time the two teams played in 2009, Wayne State blew out the Huskies 41-20 in Nebraska.
* SCSU wide receiver Tyler Allery, defensive end Bo Putrah and defensive lineman Nick Goldsmith all returned to practice from injuries and should be able to play this week.