Winona State University football coach Tom Sawyer and his staff spend a lot of time watching game film, studying each week’s opponent.
More like breaking them down to see where their weaknesses may be.
This week, however, it’s a bit different. The University of Sioux Falls, a 1,576-enrollment private Christian university located in Sioux Falls, S.D., just across town from Augustana, is a bit of an unknown.
Well, at least to those folks who follow NCAA Division II football.
Winona State (4-1) and No. 23 Sioux Falls (5-0) have never met. That, in itself, provides plenty of intrigue, Sawyer said.
“It is like going to Carson-Newman (Tennessee), playing a team you have never played before,” Sawyer said of a home-and-home series with Carson-Newman in 2009 and 2010.
“You watch them on tape, but it is not necessarily who you are going to play (not always the same players). You really don’t know anything about them. I guess we’ll find out when they get here.”
What Sawyer and his staff know is that Sioux Falls has been an NAIA powerhouse for a long time. Sioux Falls won NAIA national titles in 1996, 2008 and 2009, and finished as the national runner-up in 2007 and 2010.
“It is a good program, and their coaches are great guys and good coaches,” Sawyer said. “We are looking forward to the matchup.”
Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. in a game where the majority of the action will be under the lights.
NOT ALL DB’s FAULT: Upper Iowa quarterback Cole Jaeschke threw for 464 yards and five TDs last week against Winona State. While Sawyer was not pleased with the performance of his defensive backs, he didn’t place all the blame on their shoulders.
“I am not really mad at the DBs. I think it was just more overall. I just think we had a letdown as a team,” Sawyer said. “We were up 14 at the half, and I think we had a lull in the game that was our offense, it was our defense, it was everybody.
“What people saw was the DBs. Well, that was part of it. Part of it was assignment, part of it not playing with their heads.”
GETTING BETTER: What Sawyer likes to see out of his team is steady improvement. He always wants his team to play at a high level, but then again, he doesn’t want the Warriors to be playing their best football in September or early October.
“We are just growing as a football team. We’ve had some new kids, some young kids and some kids that were hurt come back,” Sawyer said. “So it is kind of a natural progression (coming together).
“Good teams, that happens to. You get a little better in your whole game, and we are seeing little pieces of that growth each week.”
NORGAARD PROBABLE: Starting cornerback Chris Norgaard, who did not play last week against Upper Iowa, is expected to play against Sioux Falls.
Norgaard, one of the fastest players on the Warriors, underwent arthroscopic surgery last week. Norgaard has had each of his knees scoped in the last five weeks.
“It is nothing structural. He had a little scope on it and it was about a 15-minute surgery,” Sawyer said. “He was back at practice in the afternoon (watching).
“It wasn’t that big of a deal. We sat him out one week, and he is supposed to be back and should be good (this week).”
Despite missing the Minnesota-Crookston and Upper Iowa games, Norgaard is tied for third on the team with 21 tackles.