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Bemidji State’s Avery Walker (4) looks for a hole during last week’s game against Concordia-St. Paul. Walker ran for 99 yards last week and with BSU’s quarterback uncertainty might me heavily relied upon again this week at Augustana. Jack Hittinger | Bemidji Pioneer

FOOTBALL: Beavers hope loss to Concordia gives them a wake-up-call up this week at Augustana

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The Bemidji State football team had chances to put Concordia away last Saturday.

If not for a fumble and a missed field goal in the fourth quarter, the Beavers may well be 2-0 coming into this week’s Northern Sun Intercollegiate matchup at Augustana.

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Instead, BSU let the Bears back into it. Concordia scored a late field goal and a touchdown with 41 seconds to play to secure the win.

But BSU head coach Jeff Tesch isn’t pointing to any specific moment that could have turned the game for the Beavers (1-1). The offense simply needs to play better.

“There’s a lot of basic stuff we didn’t do,” Tesch said. “We’re still a young team and often it comes down to fundamentals. We’re working on those on both sides of the ball this week.”

BSU gained just 157 yards of offense last week. According to Tesch, redshirt freshman quarterback Ryan Shields struggled at times, especially reading the Concordia defense.

“All the wonderful things Ryan did at Winona, last week he had some struggles. Stuff like coming off reads,” Tesch said. “Basic stuff. You didn’t think he’d do that, but it’s just basic youth. Some of the linemen and skill kids are the same way. Concordia had a pretty darned good defense and made it hard for us.”

Tesch said he was unsure if Shields would get the starting nod again this week at Augustana, saying that both he and senior Alex Hass were taking reps with the offense and the starter would be a game-time decision this afternoon in Sioux Falls, S.D.

Shields acknowledged the poor offensive play, noting that the Beavers need to work on sustaining drives.

“It’s small mental mistakes that were just killing our drives,” Shields said. “We had so many 3-and-outs. That’s our biggest goal this week, getting first downs. I think we’re last in the conference so it’s something we’re working on.”

The Beavers have gained just 23 first downs over two games and are near the bottom in time of possession (26:16 minutes per game).

Still, there is improvement. BSU allowed just one quarterback sack last week compared to eight in their Week One win over Winona State. BSU’s rushing game also improved, with the Beavers gaining 102 yards. Avery Walker had 99 yards and a touchdown run.

“If you look at the stats on paper, we did improve from week one,” senior fullback Brent Kondziolka said. “That kind of shows how well our offense is coming along. We just need one game to get the ball rolling, use all the tools. We have them all. We just have to get everyone to figure everything out and execute their assignments.”

Defense could be thin

The BSU defense could also be without two veterans today.

Senior linebacker Buckley Wright and senior defensive tackle Matt Shaver are both questionable for the game.

Both suffered injuries and left the game in the second half against Concordia; Shaver hurt his knee and Wright injured both his knee and his ankle.

“They’re both a little banged up,” Tesch said. “Buckley is close, he will the have opportunity to play this weekend.

“Shaver probably won’t play, he’s a little further away so we wanted to give him some more time.”

The BSU defense gave up 322 yards to Concordia, including more than 200 in the second half.

Tesch said following the game he thought the offense’s lack of possession tired the defense out late in the game and allowed the scores. But Wright didn’t want to make excuses.

“I know we can do better than we’ve shown,” he said. “We’ve played some good halves, good quarters, but we just haven’t played a full game on defense.

“I don’t think us being tired had anything to do with it. We just weren’t executing, weren’t playing how we need to play.”

Augie also 1-1

Both teams come into today’s game looking for a victory to get above .500.

The Vikings lost in similarly heartbreaking fashion at Minot State, going to triple overtime before losing 23-17.

The Vikings had 249 yards of total offense last week and through three quarters had only three points; they needed a furious comeback to force overtime.

“They have a balanced team,” Tesch said. “They’re as diverse an offense as we’ve seen, between the formations and screens they run. We have to be assignment sharp and hopefully the older guys give our defense an advantage.”

With both teams hungry to avenge a close loss, the Beavers a good week of practice for them will be the difference.

“Unfortunately it kinda seems like sometimes it takes a loss to wake everybody up and bring them back to reality,” Kondziolka said. “We have had a good week. Everyone seems very determined to get back at it, get back over .500.”

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Jack Hittinger
Jack Hittinger is a sports reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer, focusing on Bemidji State but also covering area high schools. He hails from the Great State of Michigan. Read his Bemidji State blog at http://thebeaverblog.areavoices.com/ and follow him on Twitter at @Jackhitts.
(218) 333-9772
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