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From left: Blake Sczepanski, Jordan Lardinois, Jake Zimmerman, Rob Wills and George Percak-Dennet lead the Bemidji State defense into today's NSIC?road contest at Southwest Minnesota State. Pioneer File Photo/Eric Stromgren

Bemidji State football team aims to improve against Southwest Minnesota

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Bemidji State football team aims to improve against Southwest Minnesota
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The Bemidji State football team's loss to Augustana last week did not sit well with the players or coaches.

So much went wrong in the 10-0 defeat, more than one player called it embarrassing and head coach Jeff Tesch called it an 'aberration.'


With such little time to turn around for today's road game against Southwest Minnesota State at 1 p.m., the team was forced to quickly forget about what could have been, move on and prepare for a new challenge.

"I think they're ready to go (against Southwest)," Tesch said. "It's just some stuff that won't happen again for 10 years and they're ready. I can't point it out enough. They're ready to roll."

Bemidji State is 1-1 (0-1 NSIC) after last week's shutout loss, the first against the Beavers since 1997. That was Tesch's second year as BSU head coach.

BSU's offense was out of sync the entire game and managed three first downs, never reached the red zone and punted 11 times in the loss.

One player eager to get back on the field is utility man Lance Rongstad.

"I think it's going to be a big turnaround from what everyone saw from us last weekend," Rongstad said. "Our offense played pretty poorly. I think we really picked up the intensity this week in practice and it should be a good showing."

Following last week's loss, Tesch said he wanted to go back to a more simplified game plan. If that's the case, look for a straightforward offensive attack balancing the three running backs - Dustin Kroeplin, Steven Battle and Brandon Miles - with a short passing game managed by quarterback Derek Edholm.

BSU will also probably try a few deep throws to receivers Andrew Schultz and Cameron Abram.

The most consistent aspect of Bemidji State's game through the first two weeks has been the defense. The Beavers have given up just one offensive touchdown in eight quarters of football.

The defense has allowed just 133 rushing yards through two games.

Bemidji State safety Dusty Sluzewicz credited the strong play of the defensive line for the solid start.

When asked what the defense could do to improve, Sluzewicz was quick with his answer.

"Not let that touchdown happen, it's as simple as that," Sluzewicz said. "I think to get better we need to get better conditioned, work harder and the last game's over and look forward to the next week."

Southwest enters the game with a 2-0 (1-0 NSIC) with wins coming against Northern State and U-Mary.

The defense will look to contain SMSU quarterback Ryan Ratekin, one of the top players at his position in the NSIC. He's completed 62 percent of his passes through two games and has five touchdowns on the year, including a touchdown pass of 79 yards.

"They're going to throw the ball a lot, it's going to be a loud game and as a secondary we got to be making calls and making sure everyone is on the same page," Sluzewicz said.

Pioneer staff reports