“It’s kind of like arena football” – Simpson faces D III’s best passing attack on Saturday

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by Brock Borgeson, Sports Editor

Last week, Simpson held the nation’s 11th best passing attack in Coe College to only 261 yards in the air and 15 points. 

This week, when the Storm travel to Loras, they’ll have to do much of the same. 

“They can throw the ball around, so we’ll have our work cut out for us,” head coach Jim Glogowski said. “But Coe is great preparation for us because we saw some hurry up tempo and Loras will try to snap the ball every 15 seconds. We’ll be facing back-to-back two of the best passing attacks in the country.”

The Loras Duhawks are coming off a 55-48 win over Central in which freshman quarterback Nolan Baumhover threw for a school-record eight touchdowns.

Their prolific passing has been there all season for Loras, who leads all of Division III Football in passing yards at 431.2 yards per game, highlighted by a 600 yard performance in week two against UW-Stout.

Division III football has 241 teams. Simpson is 200th and Dubuque, who has Division I East Carolina transfer Rio Johnson at quarterback, is 79th.

Simpson has spent this week preparing for this aerial attack, paying specific attention to the fast paced Duhawk offense. 

“The scout team is running a hurry-up offense this week,” junior defensive back Pat Steffen said. “The offensive line isn’t even coming out and they’ll rotate new guys in every play and it should be good conditioning for us. They’ll try to get snaps off within 15 seconds.”

The Duhawks have attempted 340 passes, 97 more than even Coe to lead the Iowa Conference. They still have managed to run the ball 240 times, in the middle of the pack in the IIAC — a testament to the team’s no-huddle style.

Glogowski likened Saturday to an arena football-esque game.

“Someone made the comment this week, ‘they’re going to score,’” Glogowski said. “It’s kind of like arena football. You just have to get a couple key stops over the course of the game.” 

Despite allowing the second most passing yards per game in the conference, 249.2 yards, Simpson locks-in near the red zone, allowing just seven passing touchdowns – first in the conference.

A healthier and more experienced secondary has helped Simpson this year with Adrean Johnson, Justin Sheppard, Patrick Steffen and Reid Ryan headlining the backline.

Health may be an issue on Saturday though as Ryan recovers from a concussion suffered in Coe’s game.

“He went in to the doctor on Sunday and still had a bit of a headache,” Glogowski said. “Quite honestly it’s out of our control.”

If he can’t go, sophomore Brandt Seward will fill in again after taking Ryan’s spot midway through the game with Coe.

“If Reid can’t go we have Brandt,” Steffen said. “We have good depth. We have a freshman named Prince Krah that can play too.”

Steffen himself suffered a collision with wide receiver Devin Norman at practice on Tuesday, dinging up his knee in the process. A junior from Ankeny, Steffen has appeared in 24 games, picking off three passes while breaking up 11 in his career. 

His status is pending, but it will be a big lift for Simpson if he can play.

Loras’ Baumhover, a freshman that Glogowski himself recruited out of Western Dubuque High School, will have to deal with a new look from the Storm in their nickel package. 

“We’ve got a nickel and he hasn’t seen a true nickel package yet,” Steffen said. “We are going to try and hide our coverage and stem in late.” 

It won’t be all defensive, as Simpson helped quell the Coe passing attack through running the ball 50 times and maintaining possession for 41:42 of the 60-minute ball game.

“The formula is we’ve got to run the football, take care of the ball and keep them off the field,” Glogowski said.

Last time at Loras Simpson won 27-10 at the Rock Bowl in Dubuque, and they’ll be looking for another happy bus ride back this time. 

“It’s a fun team to be around,” Glogowski said. “If you were in the locker room on Saturday, you could see that excitement level. It’ll be a great trip out there in the Rock Bowl.”