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DIA Playoffs - Lindenwood Hosts CSU

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DIA Playoffs - Lindenwood Hosts CSU

Lindenwood needs to bounce back, but they've bounced back before. Steve Zomberg photo.

Colorado State travels to St. Charles, Mo. Saturday for the DIA quarterfinals clash with Lindenwood, and this is a game full of intrigue and interest.

The Rams and the Lions don’t know each other well, and while they’ve done their due diligence in research, this inaugural meeting between the two teams is full of questions. Lindenwood is coming off a bit of an iffy two weeks, with losses to Life (18-15), the Glendale Raptors (48-12), and Davenport (26-7). Colorado State, meanwhile, may have finished 2nd in the West DIA, but many, including most who vote for the DIA rankings, think they are currently a stronger team than West DIA champs Air Force.

Certainly they are on an upward swing.

In addition, the teams tend to play very different games. In CSU’s conference games this season, teams score 69 points a game. In Lindenwood’s conference games, it’s 37 points a game. We put similar questions to coaches from each team, basically saying, can your players accept either the frustration of not scoring the way they’re used to, or giving up more points than they’re used to. 

“I think Lindenwood might need to adjust to our ability to score,” said CSU assistant coach Ryan Walker. “But really we know they will bring a really physical defense, but we have the ability to find a weakness and get the tries rolling in.”

“We’ve had a few games where there’s scoring, like against the Raptors,” said Lindenwood Head Coach JD Stephenson. “One of the reason we play those games is to prepare players. It was humbling for us, as was the game against Davenport, but we’ve done our homework.”

It comes down to the right preparation, and both coaching staffs have taken that very seriously. Lindenwood’s loss to Davenport might have to be taken with a grain of salt, as Stephenson rested some players. He blooded some players in the front row against what he calls the best scrum in collegiate rugby. He did it to prepare them to scrum in the playoffs. Both coaches agree that set piece will be crucial.

“We expect a really good test,” said Stephenson. “Scrums and lineouts will be key.”

“The scrum will be important,” added Walker. “We know it will be very tough all over - they are a well-coached team used to some of the best competition in the country.”

As go Colorado State’s deep three so go Colorado State. Wings Jack Connor, Luke Engelhaupt, and fullback Liam Wynne are speedy and smart, and will be expected to handle more of a kicking game than they usually face. But with all the high-profile players Ben Pinkelman, for example), CSUhas needed big games from unlikely sources. Maybe not unlikely, Eric Hamilton has emerged as a hooker of some talent and aggression.

Lindenwood is most certainly expecting the forwards to front up big-time this weekend. 

“We have shown we can handle a defensive battle - al of our conference games have been like that,” said Stephenson. “But if it’s a shootout, we’re ready for that too.”