The Gustavus football team welcomes the Cobbers of Concordia College to Lloyd Hollingsworth Field for Saturday’s Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference showdown. Gustavus enters the game with an overall record of 3-6 and an MIAC mark of 2-5. Concordia comes in with an overall record of 7-2 and an MIAC mark of 5-2. The Gusties are coming off a 41-27 win over Carleton in their last outing, while the Cobbers suffered a 21-7 loss to St. Thomas, in their last time out.
Watch and Listen
Scouting The Gusties
The Gustavus Adolphus football team looks to end its 2012 campaign on a high note Saturday against Concordia College. The Gusties used their best offensive performance of the season to snap a four-game losing-skid with a 41-27 victory over Carleton last Saturday in Northfield.
Taking the reigns for a banged up Muresuk Mena at quarterback, senior Tim Stepka made the most of his opportunity and breathed life into an offense that was averaging just 236 yards per game over its previous four losses. Using a balanced running and passing attack, Gustavus totaled 196 yards on the ground and 297 yards through the air for a season-best 493 yards. With a 27-20 lead inside the fourth quarter, the senior signal caller secured the victory by going 5-for-6 for 88 yards through the air and finding Michael Hintze and Jeffrey Dubose on touchdown passes to put the game out of reach.
Stepka was an efficient 23-for-28 for two touchdowns and 297 yards passing. He found six different receivers in the passing game, as Hintze led the way with a season-best eight catches for 120 yards and a touchdown. Dubose re- emerged in the running game with a 143-yard performance, scoring four touchdowns (3 rushing, 1 receiving) and averaging 5.5 yards per carry. In what was also a key area of improvement, the Gusties were a perfect 5-for-5 in the red zone with five touchdowns.
Although the Gusties failed to force a turnover for the first time this season against the Knights, Corey Shea’s defensive unit saw a strong performance from its linebacker corp of Lucas Kleinschrodt, Matt Keller, and Joe Haas. Kleinschrodt (10 solo) and Keller (9 solo) led the way with 10 tackles, while Haas registered nine (8 solo) and one sack. Haas currently leads the team with 78 tackles (41 solo) this season and is looking to reach the 80-tackle mark for the second consecutive year.
Gustavus’ run defense will certainly be tested by Concordia’s powerful offense which ranks 19th in the nation in rushing at 250.4 yards per game. The Gusties rank fourth in the MIAC in run defense, allowing 150.1 yards per game on the ground. Going up against an offense that likes to grind away the clock with long punishing drives, Gustavus will need to play assignment football and win the turnover battle in order to be successful against a Cobber team that is still clinging to the hope of earning an at-large bid into the NCAA Playoffs. With a league-best 27 takeaways gained (13th/NCAA) on the year, the Gustie defense is responsible for a turnover margin of 1.22, ranking them 13th in the country.
Scouting The Cobbers
The Concordia football team is looking to get back on track after suffering its second loss of the year, falling to 2012 MIAC Champion St. Thomas 21-7 last Saturday in Moorhead. Despite a defensive effort that held St. Thomas to a season-low 21 points, the Cobbers found difficulty getting their offense on track against a Tommie defense that forced two turnovers and allowed 272 yards of total offense.
Concordia was held to 154 yards rushing on the day, nearly 100 yards less than its season average. Brett Baune led the way on the ground with 89 yards on 24 carries, while Mitch Tauer ran for 53 yards on two carries. Baune has been the featured back inside Concordia’s option attack, totaling 963 yards (2nd/MIAC) on the year for an average of 107 yards per game. He also has a league-high 10 rushing touchdowns and has scored in every game but one so far.
Although the Cobbers were held to just 118 yards through the air last Saturday, their passing attack as proven to be opportunistic throughout the season. Concordia averages just 158.4 yards per game passing, yet has 16 passing touchdowns and averages the second-most yards per reception in the league. Quarterback Griffin Neal has been the starter throughout the year, completing 89 of his 149 passes (55.3%) for 1,371 yards and carrying a touchdown to interception ratio of 16-to-7. Neal’s top target in the passing game has been Mark Whiting, who has 488 yards on just 19 receptions, averaging a league-best 25.7 yards per catch.
Concordia’s defense ranks third in the league in both points allowed (20.3) and yards per game (324.3). The Gusties will have to break through the conference’s second-best run defense on Saturday, as Concordia allows an average of 100.7 yards per game rushing and has given up just nine rushing touchdowns. Linebacker Matt Moenkedick leads the team with 82 tackles (7th/MIAC), while fellow linebacker Jordan Doschadis leads the league with 5.5 sacks and ranks second in tackles for loss with 10.