After coming off a 20-12 defeat at the hands of the University of North Alabama Lions on Saturday, the Statesmen (1-2) didn’t have long to wait for its next contest as they will host the Abilene Christian University Wildcats (2-2) tonight at 6:30 p.m.
“I think any time you get beat and get a chance to get out there quickly, it’s probably good,” DSU head football coach Jamey Chadwell said after the loss. “You don’t have to linger on a loss that long. Right now, we’ve got some guys that aren’t completely on board with what we’re trying to do. With the way this game went, we’ve got to get those guys all going in the same direction.
“I guess I’m thankful that we’re playing in a short (week), because we can move on a little quicker than normal,” Chadwell added.
Against the Lions, the Statesmen got good performances from running backs Justin McArthur and Rondreas Truesdale. McArthur ran for 114 yards on 19 carries, while Truesdale rushed for 45 yards on six carries.
Kevin Jackson continued to be DSU’s primary receiver as he caught five passes for 62 yards. Jackson currently has 10 catches with a team-leading 194 yards with two touchdowns this season.
McArthur’s performance put him up to 136 rushing yards which is second on the team behind quarterback Trevor Wooden (197 yards). Truesdale is fourth on the team in rushing with 106 yards on 23 carries.
Wooden had an off night throwing the ball against North Alabama by completing just 12-of-23 passes for 98 yards with an interception. For the year, Wooden has completed 40-of-78 passes for 504 yards with four TD throws and three interceptions.
The Statesmen’s defense against North Alabama was led by Dandrick Jackson who recorded seven tackles with two interceptions. Jackson and Eric Williams are tied for the team-lead in picks this year with two each. Junior linebacker Ixavier Triplett currently leads DSU in tackles with 17 including three for a loss, followed by senior defensive back Montavius Hill with 15 tackles including a sack with two pass break-ups and two deflections.
The Statesmen will take on a Wildcats’ team that has a solid program. Abilene Christian has made the NCAA Division II Playoffs for six straight years and hasn’t had a losing season since 2005. This is also the first ever meeting between the two teams in football.
Abilene will be coming to Parker Field-McCool Stadium looking to rebound from a tough 28-23 loss at the hands of Angelo State in Lone Star Conference action at Angelo, Texas.
ACU’s offense has scored an average of 30.2 points per game this season. There’s no secret as to the strength of the Wildcats’ offense as they throw the ball frequently. As a team, the Wildcats have thrown it 146 times while running it 111 times. The Wildcats have thrown for an average of 255 yards, while rushing for an average of just 79 yards a night.
Senior quarterback Mitchell Gale has led the Wildcats’ high octane offense by completing 76-of-143 passes for 1,014 yards with six touchdowns passes and only three interceptions. Gale’s leading wide receivers are Taylor Gabriel and Demarcus Thompson. Gabriel, a junior, has caught 19 passes for 256 yards with four touchdowns, while Thompson, a sophomore has caught 15 passes for 249 yards with a score.
“They have a really good quarterback, and they try to do a lot of things,” Chadwell said Monday at the weekly DSU press conference. “They’ll be in a lot of different formations, and they’ll be a true spread offense. The quarterback is the trigger man there, and they’ve got a lot of good players. They’ve got some receivers that are pretty good players.”
According to Chadwell, the defense needs to be aggressive and ready to blitz.
Chadwell said the defense will have a tall order trying to contain the offense of the Wildcats.
“It will be a big challenge for our defense, especially coming back off the game that we’ve had. The offense North Alabama ran was completely different.”
On defense, the Wildcats have given up just 18.8 points a contest. The rushing defense has yielded only 93.5 yards a game and an average of 2.9 yards a rush, but the passing defense has been shaky by giving up 328 yards in the air a night. Opponents have completed 143-of-211 passes for a 67.8 percent completion rate.
ACU’s defense is anchored by sophomore linebackers Justin Stephens (44 tackles, 2.5 tackles-for-loss) and Nick Richardson (24 tackles, 9 tackles-for-loss, 7 sacks.
“They’ve got a lot of big guys,” Chadwell said about ACU’s defense. “They’re probably the most physical team as far as linebackers and front seven that we’ve seen this year. They’re probably going to have the most aggressive secondary. They’ve got a couple of safeties that like to get down in there in the box, and they blitz the safeties quite a bit.
“We’ve got to try to hopefully keep ourselves out of situations where they can pin their ears back on us a little bit,” Chadwell added.
The key to victory for DSU tonight could come in the red zone. Against North Alabama, DSU went to the red zone twice came out of it with just two field goals. In fact, DSU was able to get to the UNA 1-yard line on the first trip and the 6-yard line on the second trip, but couldn’t put it in the end zone.
“We need to score some touchdowns,” Chadwell said. “When we get a touchdown, we don’t need to give up a touchdown. When we get back in the game, we’ve got to keep the momentum on our side.
“We also need to execute when it matters. We’re at the one-yard line and then jumped offsides. We dropped a pass for a touchdown and that last touchdown drive North Alabama had, we had a penalty. Those execution things are killing us,” Chadwell added.
Delta State has been in every game its played this season, but has struggled to close the deal on a win.
Chadwell said a victory would be just what the doctor ordered for the team.
“I think right now going out and getting a win would be huge for us,” Chadwell said. “You work hard basically all year round for 10 games guaranteed or 11, whatever you’ve got on your schedule. Any time guys go out there, you want to win — that’s what makes it fun. We need it for morale. Losing stinks.”
The game will also be the Gulf South Conference TV-Live Game of the Week.