Sometimes it pays to know somebody.
Having a sibling in the same profession sure helped Wesley Beschorner out. When the UW-Eau Claire football coach began searching for a new defensive coordinator, his brother Joe was there to lend a hand.
Joe Beschorner is the offensive coordinator at Minnesota State, and thanks to his familiarity with the program, Wesley had an eye on one of the other Mavericks assistants.
Joe was happy to tell him all about defensive line coach Austin Dickinson.
“He recommended Austin, and a lot of other coaches did as well,” the Blugolds head coach said. “I just think having that trust factor is big.”
And it’s gone a long way. Beschorner announced Dickinson as the new defensive coordinator at Eau Claire this week.
“There were some relationships there, I’d already met him before,” Beschorner said. “I had an idea of what they do on defense, I’ve been familiar with that. I know it pretty well, what they’ve done, and he’s going to bring it here.”
What is Dickinson going to bring?
The new leader of the defense favors a four-down front on defense, and preaches a fast, physical style. It’s what helped him produce five All-Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference honorees in his two years as Minnesota State’s defensive line coach.
“We don’t want guys overthinking things. We want to keep things simple,” Dickinson said. “We want to make sure guys’ heads are clear when that ball is snapped so they can just go out and play football. We don’t want them thinking, ‘Oh I’ve got to be in this pre-snap position, post-snap position,’ we want them to go out there and play fast and physical.”
The Blugolds often played with two linemen down and linebackers setting the edge last season. It’ll be an adjustment to a new style of defense, but Dickinson’s pedigree shows it can be effective.
Dickinson’s line helped Minnesota State hold opponents to an average of 69.1 rushing yards per game in 2019, good for third in all of Division II. They produced 99 sacks across two seasons.
Prior to his stint with the Mavericks, Dickinson was the offensive quality control coach at North Dakota.
He also coached the defensive scout team there.
Dickinson played defensive line for Buena Vista University and later served as a coach at his alma mater for five years.
In his college days, Dickinson often competed against WIAC schools in nonconference play. Getting back into one of Division III’s top conferences in a leadership role was a big draw for the Blugolds job.
“I know a good bit about the conference. It’s a great league,” Dickinson said. “And just the atmosphere at Eau Claire, and what Coach Beschorner is trying to build, it’s something I want to be a part of.”
Dickinson inherits a defense which has been a strong suit for the Blugolds over the last few years. Eau Claire ranked third in the WIAC in total defense in each of the last two seasons. He talkes over for Matt Ebner, who stepped down after four seasons as DC in July to take a job in the Mondovi School District.
Dickinson wants to keep that success going. He’s already begun meeting some of his players in his early days in Eau Claire.
The 2020 season has been canceled, but that may end up working in Dickinson’s favor. He’ll have extra time to get to know the program and his players before the Blugolds strap up their helmets in 2021.
And in the meantime, Beschorner said the Blugolds are hoping to practice as much as possible within their new free time.
“We want to get in as many practices as we can,” he said. “We’re looking at this as a redshirt year for our guys. We’re going to try to develop them as much as we can. ... Very rarely do you hire a coach right before the season, and that’s what this was feeling like. But then we didn’t have a season, so if we use this the right way we can all benefit from it.”
Dickinson will miss playing actual games this year, but he’s not too disappointed to have extra time to get things exactly how he wants them to be.
“Obviously you want to play football games in the fall, no doubt about it,” Dickinson said. “But having that extra time to install an entirely new defense and get guys familiar with the terminology, it helps to have that extra time.”