Saturday's University of Jamestown football game at Dakota Wesleyan carries with it a Game-of-the-Week-type feel.
Sure, the Jimmies and the Tigers are both carrying 1-8 records into the 1 p.m. clash at Joe Quintal Field in Mitchell, South Dakota, but both teams are hungry for a win and both teams have had two weeks to prepare. Dakota Wesleyan was one of No. 1-ranked Morningside College's latest victims, falling to the Mustangs 69-0 on Oct. 26 in Mitchell.
"There's a lot of time to maybe doctor up something to get you a win," said UJ head coach Brian Mistro. "For us, we went back to fundamental stuff. A lot more focus on technique and things like that in that first week, and then we really started honing in on the scheme that we want to run."
The Jimmies will need to keep tabs on 6-foot-1 junior receiver Spencer Neugebauer, whose 1,246 all-purpose yards this season for the Tigers ranks fifth in the NAIA. Neugebauer has hauled in 27 receptions averaging 15 yards per catch, while also recording 10 carries for 150 yards and has returned 26 kicks an average of 26 yards.
Neugebauer hauled in three catches for 115 yards and a score against the Jimmies last season, a game that ended 41-21 in favor of the Tigers at Rollie Greeno Field. Mistro said senior cornerback Troy Stuard will be lining up across from the shifty Neugebauer.
"That's going to be a big deal for us, making sure we match up with him with our best because we think he's their best," Mistro said. "He's a guy that can do it all ... but we also want to make sure we're bringing pressure on the quarterback."
Returning sophomore Daniel Libolt also caught three passes and scored twice for the Tigers in Jamestown a season ago, while redshirt senior running back Luke Loudenburg carried the ball 30 times for 154 yards and two touchdowns.
Loudenburg has tallied 101 rushing attempts so far in 2019, averaging 54.5 yards per carry. Dakota Wesleyan has averaged 288 yards of total offense and has been shutout three times in nine games.
"There's some things that we're gonna do to make sure that we try to negate their better players," Mistro said. "But they're going to be hungry. It's at their place and they're going to be strapped up and ready to go."
The Jimmies are coming off their best offensive game of the season, rolling up 372 yards of offense in falling 42-14 to Midland University at home on Oct. 26. Senior quarterback Jordan Mann passed for 222 yards, finding sophomore Garrett Mitchell seven times for 135 yards and sophomore Marcus Giles five times for 55 yards and a touchdown.
Junior Tanner Mathern continued to lead the offensive backfield with 62 yards on 13 carries. Jamestown should be able to find some success against a Tigers' team allowing nearly 443 yards per game to opposing offenses.
"We did a better job than the whole entire year passing the football against Midland, so let's build on that," Mistro said. "And, Tanner's really starting to bloom, so we need to make sure that our guys up front are doing a decent enough job to make sure that Tanner can get holes to run through.
"Dakota Wesleyan does some things on defense to keep you guessing, so when we get a seam, when we get a crease, we've got to make sure we take advantage of it."
The Jimmies wrap up the season a week from Saturday hosting Briar Cliff (5-4, 4-3 GPAC) at Rollie Greeno. The Chargers are at Dordt University (6-3, 5-2) this weekend.
"The message really has been similar to the last few weeks," Mistro said. "Guys, are we going to do the little things right and be willing to sacrifice what we want to do -- which is maybe take a day off, maybe it's a little sore so I don't want to lift -- for what we have to do, which is be great in everything and do the little things right all the time?"