The Game Vitals
Opponent - Southern Utah at Eccles Coliseum in Cedar City, UT
Game Notes - UND
TV - None
Online Streaming - Big Sky TV
Spread - Southern Utah -5 O/U 43
Southern Utah Breakdown (1-7 record)
– Offense = Shotgun, Spread, 3-4 receivers, 1 running back
– Defense = 4-3 or 3-4
– Last Meeting: 2012 – UND won 33-29 in Grand Forks
The T-Birds are coming off a blowout 56-28 loss up in Pocatello, ID to the Bengals of Idaho State. They hung around in the first half but the Bengals turned it on in the second half and ran away with it. SUU has played a hellacious schedule in 2014 and we are not surprised that they are currently 1-7. The combined record of their FCS opponents is 26-11 and three of them (SDSU, SLU, EWU) are going to be playoff teams. Oh, and they played two FBS schools (Fresno State & Nevada).
Offensively, the Vikings are a passing offense operating out of a shotgun/1 RB setup. They employ 3-4 receivers at all times and will motion the back out for a 5th. SUU is averaging 23 pts/game on the season and an impressive 310 yds/game passing. They do average 106 yards per game rushing but have struggled to get their running game going in many of their games this season.
The offense is led by QB #2 Ammon Olsen. On the year he is 137-230 for 1,808 yards and 13 TDs vs. 8 Ints. The BYU transfer had decent mobility and will run if pressured but seems to prefer to find a receiver if at all possible. His arm strength appears to be alright and he has pretty good accuracy on his ball. He has gotten pressured a ton this year and like most QB’s, gets fairly inaccurate during those times.
WR #6 Chris Robinson is the T-Birds leading receiver with 38 receptions for 636 yards and 5 TD’s. The 5’8″ speedster is used all over the field in a variety of sets and motions and UND best keep track of his location on the field this week. WR #3 Justin Brown has 33 receptions for 570 yards and 3 TD’s this year and is the bigger receiver of the two at 6’2″. Olsen does not discriminate in the passing game as 8 different players have more than 10 receptions on the year.
Defensively, Southern Utah is hard to get a handle on. They play a 3-4 defense much of the time but then sometimes they appeared to be in a 4-3 look for their base defense. The defense is led by All-Big Sky DE #53 James Cowser, who is having another huge season for the T-Birds. Cowser has an unbelievable 18.5 TFL’s and 9.5 sacks in 2014. The guy is a beast of the edge and UND will definitely need to chip with a RB or double with a TE on play-action passes. The strength of the T-Birds defense appears to be there defensive line with the weakness being the secondary. On the year SUU is giving up 40 pts/game and 550 yards/game of offense.
North Dakota (3-4) Keys to the Game
- UND Offense – Run the Ball (like everyone else has been able to do). Run the ball right at Cowser and slow him down that way, getting him out of rush mode. If UND rushes for +125 yards they win the game.
- UND Defense – tackle the receiver and make them snap it again. Like most passing offenses, they don’t want 10-12 play drives. They want a few dink-and-dunks and then hit the big one. Knock down or tackle the big one and make them do it over… and over again. Mistakes will come. UND is a bit undersized at corner with Chris Brown and Chris Carter being around 5’9″-those two need to use their technique and get into the bigger SUU receivers.
- UND Front Seven – have your best pass rushing day yet. The SUU offensive line is an average unit, having given up 25 sacks already this season. UND has pressured the heck out of most every team they faced and need to do it again this week. Olsen will be standing back there 50+ times on Saturday.
Time to even up the record at 4-4. SUU is down this year, obviously, but have played a very tough schedule so it’s tough to make an all-encompassing assessment of them. Coming off a bye, UND needs to regroup for the second half and it begins on Saturday out in beautiful Cedar City, Utah.
North Dakota 21
Southern Utah 13