College Football: Ridgewater Week 6 Preview
Fond du Lac Overview
The visitors from the North Country rely on James Griffin for much of their offense. The 6-1, 195-pound running back from Georgia is the top rusher in the MCAC with 632 yards in 146 lugs, a 4.3 average per carry and 5 TDs. QB Cody Anderson has thrown for 558 yards but is completing just 1 of 3 passes with 11 INTs and 6 TDS. The Thunder has size in both lines; nose guard Demarcus Rawls (Redford, Mich.) is a 6-foot-5, 330-pound mountain. Strong safety Rial Wells has a conference leading four picks and free safety Khari Howard has three. The Thunder scored an impressive 17-0 win over Northland College a week ago; Warriors' coach Rob Baumgarn calls the state's newest juco football program the "Best in the North Division" right now.
The Warriors best start this century can extend to six straight wins before the home crowd this evening. It seems reasonable to believe that the Thunder coaching staff this week lectured on the theme that this is the perfect time to catch the No. 1-rated team with its feet up already looking down the road to playing at Rochester in Week 7. As for Baumgarn's staff, the message is about a sub-compact: "Focus, focus, focus." Ridgewater is playing for home-field advantage in the playoffs in the first two rounds. It's no time for a slip-up with the Yellowjackets and Central Lakes upcoming. Baumgarn would like to see the passing game become a larger part of the offense this week and believes QB Cody Jaeger is ready. "Cody is much improved," said Baumgarn, also the offensive coordinator. "He knows what to do with the ball and he's saved us many times with his scrambles." Dominque Mitchell, a 6-foot-1, 305-pound d-tackle from Georgia, has 26 tackles, a lot for an interior lineman, plus an interception on a screen. Glenn Ingram, a 315-pound nose tackle, is expected back from an ankle injury. Michael Boleware has done a fine job in his place, said Baumgarn. Shawn Paul has also played very well rotating in on the defensive line. One thing, Ridgewater needs to improve is its penalty line, 22 flags the past two games for 170 yards in setbacks. Baumgarn said the team sometimes exhibits too much emotion and a cool down is needed before it impacts the game's outcome. Last week two players -- LBs Jones Green and Ricky Grier --were tossed and suspended two games each for their part in an altercation on the Minnesota West side that emptied both benches.
Rochester's top-rated offense is doing it in the air. The Jackets have piled up 1,785 yards passing compared to just 243 rushing. They've used three QBs and five receivers have at least 11 catches. Rochester is at Fergus Falls while Central Lakes travels to Worthington.
-- Rand Middleton