GAME TIME: 6 p.m. Saturday
SITE: Harms-Eischeid Stadium in Fayette, Iowa
RECORDS: ST. CLOUD STATE 0-1 NSIC, 0-1 overall; Upper Iowa 0-1 NSIC, 0-1 overa..
SERIES: SCSU leads 2-1
LAST MEETING: SCSU won 57-10 in Fayette in 2009
LAST WEEK: SCSU lost 32-19 to Sioux Falls; Upper Iowa lost 25-23 at Bemidji State
Upper Iowa head football coach Tom Shea wasn’t surprised when he saw the University of Sioux Falls beat St. Cloud State last Thursday.
“A lot of people don’t realize how good Sioux Falls really is,” said Shea, who is in his fourth year at Upper Iowa. “They’re an excellent program that is very talented. USF did everything right against St. Cloud State. They just didn’t make any mistakes. I don’t think St. Cloud State took them lightly, things just didn’t go their way. Everything went Sioux Falls’ way.”
Shea’s main concern with St. Cloud State is how big they are up front on the offensive line. He doesn’t know if his smaller defensive line can hang with the Huskies.
“You worry about the physical matchup. Their quarterback (Phillip Klaphake) is as good as there is in our league, if not the very best. He does a lot of things that can hurt you,” Shea said. “We have to play sound. Our defensive line did a great job of controlling the line of scrimmage at Bemidji State. We have to win more battles than we lose (Saturday).”
The Peacocks are led defensively by linebackers Tony Leggett and junior Ethan Douglas. Both had 12 tackles in Upper Iowa’s 25-23 loss at Bemidji State last week.
“Those two do an awful good job for us and our secondary has to play better this week. We did some good things and we were pleased with a lot of the things we did, but we can’t give up big plays,” Shea said. “They’re all experienced back there and it’s time to do the job.”
A missed field goal at the end of the game cost the Peacocks the win over the Beavers. Shea was glad to see his team be competitive with one of the stronger programs in the NSIC.
“It was still frustrating to lose like that, though,” Shea said. “We’re getting to the point where we’re very close in every game. It’s been a long road for this program. It hasn’t had a history of success over the years. When we took it over we decided to do it with young kids and a lot of area kids. We’re a young team, but we have a lot of experience right now.”
Sophomore quarterback Cole Jaeschke, who started last year, returns this year. He threw for 179 yards and three touchdowns against Bemidji. He has a passing efficiency of 195.2, which ranks him 9th in all of Division II.
Upper Iowa got down early to the Beavers, but came back to make it interesting.
“We hadn’t been very competitive with Bemidji in past outings,” Shea said. “We put ourselves in a position to win. In our last five games going back to last year, four of those came down to the last minute where we lost. We got beat in OT by Wayne and Southwest and Concordia beat us on a Hail Mary. We’re getting there.”
DEFENSIVE COMMUNICATION NEEDS TO IMPROVE
St. Cloud State head coach Scott Underwood and cornerback Marvin Matthews, who didn’t play against USF due to an injury, both said their team’s defensive communication needs to improve.
“We weren’t physical last week,” Matthews said. “Everybody needs to do their job. We didn’t get enough pressure. The D-line didn’t know what they were doing half the time because the linebackers weren’t making the right calls. We’re being louder this week at practice. We have to be ready. Upper Iowa is a decent team and they’ll be fired-up.”
Said Underwood: “We went back through film and we didn’t get lined up as fast as we should have. We needed better communication. We worked hard this week on simplifying things.”
SCSU defensive coordinator Jim Louis called out some of his upperclassmen.
“We need more out of them. The young guys weren’t shown the way by the upperclassmen last week. They need to rise up and play better,” Louis said. “We’ve had it in practice. But it has to be better during the game.”
Louis admitted he didn’t expect Sioux Falls to pass as much as it did, which surprised SCSU.
“That changed things,” Louis said. “They were more of a run-based team last year when their quarterback was hurt. When they came out throwing 75 percent of the time in the first half, our game plan wasn’t geared toward that. We wanted to stop the run. We picked some really bad spots to apply pressure. Then, we didn’t cover well when we were pressuring. We’ve adapted some of our scheme to the personnel we have now.
“I thought our coaches did a good job of adjusting when it wasn’t looking good. We were just on the field too much in the first half and we got tired. We didn’t focus and execute. It was basic — we’re working on it.”
* Upper Iowa redshirt senior running back Mike Moser transferred to Upper Iowa after spending the 2008 season with St. Cloud State. Moser is from nearby West Union, Iowa.
He had nine carries for 24 yards last week at Bemidji.
“He had a great fall camp,” Shea said of Moser. “He’s a physical, inside type of runner who does a great job for us.”
* St. Cloud State could use redshirt freshman running back Ledell White a little more this week. White had a late 3-yard touchdown run for his only carry of the game against USF.
“We wanted to get him through his first college game last week,” Underwood said. “We’d like to get him in there for some more reps. We’ll see how things are going for Mike (Walker), but we’ll rotate him in there.”
* The loss to USF ended a 14-game regular season home winning streak for SCSU.