Week 4 Preview – Stony Brook Seawolves

The Game Vitals

Game Time - 6pm.  (Alerus Center – Grand Forks, ND)

Opponent - Stony Brook (Stony Brook, NY)

Game Notes - UND

TV - Midco Sports Network & Fox College Sports Pacific

Online Streaming - Big Sky TV

                                                                                 Spread - Stony Brook -11.5  -  O/U = 35.5

 

Stony Brook Breakdown (1-2 record)

– Offense = Pro-style offense.

– Defense = 4-3

– History:  UND leads series 1-0 (UND 31 Stony Brook 24 in 2009)

Offensively, Stony Brook (SBU) is about as basic of a team as UND will see all year.  They like to run the ball right at you and eventually wear you down as the game goes on.  On the year they have twice as many rushing attempts as passes (121 to 59).   However, they are only averaging a paltry 14 pts/game on offense.

The workhorse for the Seawolves offense is #21 Stacey Bedell.  He has 54 carries for 299 yards already this year and also is their RB out of the wildcat formation.   At QB they have split time between John Kinder (Syracuse transfer) and Conor Bednarski.  Both are completing passes at less than a 50% clip, which might be part of the reason why they run the ball so much.

Defensively, the Seawolves are an above average unit.  We will go as far as to say they are the best defense that UND has faced this year.   They are only allowing 12pts/game and have talent across the board.  The guy to watch on defense is LB/S #39 Christian Ricard, who is having a great senior season early on.  They like to move him around and have him both covering the pass and blitzing the quarterback.  Ricard already has four sacks this year and leads the Seawolves with 27 tackles and 8.5 TFL’s.

North Dakota (1-2) Keys to the Game

  1. Play your best defensive game of the year.  Stony Brook like’s to keep their butt covered on offense.  They will run, run, and run some more and then try and hit a long play-action pass.  Nothing fancy at all.  We feel UND can stop the run enough to slow down the Seawolves.  If UND can defend those long shots that SBU takes, they will be fine on Saturday.
  2. UND defense needs to setup the offense with a very short field at least once.  Get a turnover inside SBU territory and help the offense out by not making them go 80 yards.
  3. Move the pocket on offense and let Mollberg run.  Rollouts, boots, naked’s all can get Mollberg out of the pocket and on the run.  Try and extend drives in unconventional methods.
  4. We think the UND running game is going to struggle again to gain footing.  The WR’s and TE’s cannot drop passes this week.  Yards are going to be at a premium.
  5. Punt and punt return can swing the game.  Freshman Connor Bolduc has continued to improve every game and he needs to keep improving on pinning the opposing ‘O’ deep and making them go the length of the field.  The UND punt returners need to break one to either score or setup the offense.  Once again – short fields are key.

We are going to see two very similar styles on Saturday.  Both teams want to run the ball and play a field position game.  It will be a low-scoring, grind it out, whoever makes the biggest mistake loses type of game.  We are worried about the UND offense  in thsi one and based on last week we see them struggling again.

 

The Prediction

Stony Brook  17

North Dakota  9

 

 

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Verbal Commit 2015 – Carl Engwall

Name:  CARL ENGWALL

School: Lakeville North High School – Lakeville, MN (Coach Brian Vossen)

Vitals:  DE (#90).  6’4″ – 230.

UND Football recently received their fifth commitment to the Class of 2015 and their second from the state of Minnesota in defensive end Carl Engwall.  Engwall comes from a very good program at Lakeville North High School, which is off to a 3-0 start in 2014 and have only given up 20 points in their first three games.

Engwall is the type of defensive end that UND needs more of.  Tall, rangy and athletic to go along with a frame that can easily put on another 25 pounds and still retain his quickness off the ball.  Engwall shows very good feet and explosiveness on tape.  Has a quick get-off at the snap.  He also plays basketball for the reigning Minnesota State Champion Panthers.

Hudl Highlights

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Missouri State Game Review

The UND Football team went on the road Saturday and lost to Missouri State 38-0.  The Bears are a good football team and will win some games this year but to get shutout by them certainly raises our level of concern.  We knew there would be growing pains after the coaching change but early on it appears their growth has been stunted.

There were a few glaring issues that either popped up or re-surfaced in this game that need to be addressed:

  • UND had two special teams penalties in the game.  Both of them were kick return interference on an MSU punt return.  That should not happen more than once a year, if that, let alone twice in one game.  This can be fixed.
  • Senior Baylee Carr appeared to have blown the coverage on the long TD pass to WR Willis Chambers.  Chambers ran down the sideline untouched and the safety never came overtop of him.  On the other long TD, the WR just ran by corner Alex Tillman.  Tillman was looking into the backfield way too long and lost track of the receiver.
  • Tillman cannot keep pinning his own offense inside the two yard line by making bad decisions on punt returns.  At SJSU, he decided not to field a punt at the 15 and it rolled to the 1 yard line.  On Saturday, he caught a punt on the 3 yard line and was tackled at the 2.  With the way the UND offense is playing, these kind of decisions absolutely cannot happen.
  • We are wondering what the next move is for the UND offensive staff.  QB Joe Mollberg is not getting it done early on in the season.  OC Paul Rudolph pulled Mollberg in the fourth quarter on Saturday in favor of fellow sophomore Ryan Bartels.  Both played last season and nobody wants to see that happen again this year.  If neither of them can get anything done, what does Rudolph do?  Tough spot to be in.
  • The defense needs to continue to shore up their point of attack fundamentals.  The OLB’s are continually getting kicked out on the ends, creating a huge hole off the offensive tackle’s outside hip (C gap).  The interior defensive line is doing a nice job, actually.  The opponent’s running games are shifting to outside run’s vs. UND because of their inability to hold the line on the outside edges.  The outside zone running play is killing UND right now.

I have seen a comparison to UND’s situation that seem to make sense.  South Dakota went 1-10 in Joe Glenn’s first season at USD.  Glenn instituted his defense, his offense and his way of running a team.  There were growing pains and blowout losses but he stuck with it because he knew his way of coaching works.

This is what we are witnessing at UND.  They are going to run their offense the way it is meant to be run.  Will they throw in a few wrinkles, like 4 wide receivers?  Yes.  Everyone does that but the base package will stay with a fullback, tight end, and two wide receivers.

What we want to see is improvement.  We have not seen it yet but there is also nine games left in the season.  Eliminating the mistakes we bulleted above will go along way to showing improvement on the field.  This offense is not going to score 30 pts/game in 2014.  But they can continue to run the ball and hope their RB’s improve to the point they can get through those holes quicker, along with seeing the hole when it opens.  It’s not always the playside that opens up.

We would welcome any comments on what you have seen thus far or what you want to see in the future.  Obviously, we did not cover everything that is going on.

 

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Week 3 Preview – @ Missouri State Bears

The Game Vitals

Game Time - 6pm.  (Robert W. Plaster Stadium)

Opponent - Missouri State Bears (Springfield, MO)

Game Notes - UND

TV - None

Online Streaming - Bears All Access

                                                                                 Spread - Missouri State -26

Missouri State Breakdown (1-1 record)

Offense = Shotgun/Pistol Spread with 3 receivers, 1 tight end and 1 back.  Very similar                          to Robert Morris

Defense = 3-4 defense

– Beat Northwestern State (LA) 34-27.  Lost to Oklahoma State 40-23.

This is a very good Missouri State team.  They have shown improvement over the years in not only talent but ability to play with anybody on their schedule.  This year could be there best team yet.

QB Kierra Harris is the guy that UND needs to be worried about.  Thus far in 2014, he is 25-43 for 401 yards and 5 TD’s through the air.  However, he is just as big of a threat on the ground, rushing for 111 yards already this season.  Harris has good arm strength and will take his time trying to find his receivers, but sometimes he does flee the pocket too quickly.

The Bears have a very experienced offensive line back this season.  There are four starters back from last year and three of them were All-MVFC selections in the preseason (Booker, Cooley and Galbierz).  They will definitely be a problem for the UND front-seven on Saturday.

Defensively, the Bears play a 3-4 scheme, similar to what UND plays.  They are led by All-American safety Caleb Schaffitzel, who was a finalist for the Buck Buchanan Award last season (FCS defensive player of the year).  Thus far in 2014 the Bears defense is giving up 33.5 pts/game but that is vs. pretty good competition.  From what we have seen they appear to be a fundamentally solid defense and will be a tough unit for the UND offense to attack.

North Dakota – Keys To The Game

We believe UND will be without safety Cole Reyes again this week.  Freshman safety Joe Montague will be back in the rotation, along with freshman Deion Harris, to add depth that is sorely lacking right now.  The UND secondary needs to continue to improve this week and add quality second level tackling that has not been there thus far.  MSU is going to break runs up the middle, we know that much.  Will the safeties/corners step up and bring the running back down for a marginal gain?

Missouri State likes to give the zone-read handoff to their running backs #11 Phoenix Johnson and #28 Calan Crowder (who are both very talented backs).  Let them.  If they get those two going up the middle and Harris is able to pull it and go off the end, UND is in trouble.  Take away the Harris keeper and hope the rest of your front seven can slow down the running backs.  UND can’t defend everything so they have to take away something.

The UND offense needs to do something.  Anything.  They were abysmal last week and are playing a much, much better opponent this week.  QB Joe Mollberg is going to need to be accurate and aware this week as he will need to find easier targets, such as RB’s, FB’s and TE’s if UND is going to move the ball.

To have a chance to win this game, UND needs to win the special teams battle like it did last week vs. RMU.  Pinning MSU deep in the punting game will be vital to UND having success on defense.  They are not good enough to keep giving the Bears a mid to short field.

Let RB Adam Shaugabay carry the load this week.  Cedric Simmons is out with a shoulder injury and RB Jer Garman has not shown the ability to be an every-down back.  Shaugabay has the size and ability to run the ball in between the tackles, which is what UND wants to do.

Missouri State is a very good football team and could be a big factor in the MVFC this season.  This one is going to be tough for a young UND team to win.  A bunch of things need to go right on Saturday and based on the first two weeks UND is not to that point yet.

The Prediction

Missouri State  34

North Dakota  16

 

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Robert Morris Game Review

The UND Football team squeaked out a 16-13 Potato Bowl victory on Saturday over Robert Morris.  It wasn’t the prettiest of games but what was encouraging is that UND found ways to make big plays and win game.

Good

  • The defense came up with multiple stops in the third and fourth quarters to allow UND to win the game.  It was SIX stops in a row, to be exact, after RMU scored their touchdown to open the second half.  With UND up by 3 for the entire fourth quarter, the defense was able to keep coming out and getting stops.
  • ILB Will Ratelle.  He had 13 more tackles on Saturday and has become a rock on the inside of the 3-4 defense.  His form tackling and aggressive play is fun to watch.
  • Three blocked kicks.  The UND defense blocked two field goals and an extra point.  Awesome effort by the interior of that defensive line, especially the two who broke through – Spencer Cummings (2) and Jordan Hinojosa.
  • Corner Alex Tillman had a nice game in coverage, returning punts, and laying bone-shattering hits like the one on the Robert Morris receiver.  He also intercepted a pass but was called for a questionable holding call before the pass was thrown.
  • WR RJ McGill stepped up when UND needed somebody in the third quarter.  McGill took the short crossing route and turned on the speed to split the Colonials defense on his way to a 32 yard TD.
  • QB Joe Mollberg showed nice touch on the deep seam pass to TE Kyle Ruhe, floating it in between three defenders.  Ruhe is proving to a bonafide deep threat from the tight end position.
  • UND was +2 on the day in turnover ratio.
  • True freshman kicker Reid Taubenheim had another good day.  He went 3-4 on field goals, connecting from 20, 45, and 35.
  • Thompson, ND native #15 Garrett Reinecke played no doubt his best game of his career at OLB.  His relentless pursuit and effort lent itself to making some big plays, including a sack late in the game.  You can tell it means something to him to be on the field wearing the UND uniform by the way he plays.

Not So Good

  • Time of Possession was 35 to 25 in favor of the Colonials.  That is not ball control offense.
  • The UND offense was 3 for 15 on third down.
  • 8-22 passing will simply not get it done.  Even considering the few drops, that’s still only 50%.
  • UND:  268 yards total offense.
  • Lets call it like it is, the UND offense was abysmal on Saturday.  Besides the fact they only had 268 total yards, the entire flow of the offense was off.  If it wasn’t bad QB/Center exchanges, it was poor blocking in both the running and passing game, or overthrows/underthrows to the receiver, or flat out drops.  Nothing really clicked on Saturday, except for the one drive where QB Joe Mollberg hit WR RJ McGill for the 32 yard TD.  Even that could be chalked up to blown coverage based on the fact the pass was only about 6-7 yards and McGill was able to run 25 yards into the end zone.  On UND’s biggest play from scrimmage, Mollberg badly underthrew WR Brandon Walker, who had his man beat by at least 3 yards.  If he hits him in stride, it’s a TD.  Instead, UND came away with no points after the Taubenheim missed FG.
  • We’ve been saying this for a while now, but it’s officially time for QB Joe Mollberg to take over this team.  Be the leader, be the voice.  If your running back turns the wrong way on a handoff, straighten him out.  The center exchanges need to be figured out now, not later.  Also, on the UND lost fumble, Mollberg appeared to accidentally hand it off to the wrong player, fullback Dustin Iverson, who was supposed to be the blocker on the lead draw play.  Obviously, Iverson was not ready for it and the ball fell to the turf.  “Jet” motions need to be timed up better and more consistently, as well.  These are all just honest, objective observations and constructive criticisms.  This all needs to be better.
  • The play of the OLB’s on the zone running plays was poor.  The outside zone runs were the big one’s that RMU running back Rameses Owens killed UND on.  That kid is going to be a special player, by the way.  Anyway, on those plays the OLB’s need to fold into the area and make the play or at least pinch it down and make the RB cut back.  It was way too easy and credit the RMU staff for noticing that.
  • UND needs to find a running back who wants to hit the hole hard and accelerate at the point of contact with the defender (is this groundhog’s day?).  Same problems as Week 1 vs. SJSU.  The RB’s need to get going faster and worry less about cutting and juking and avoiding contact.  These running plays are not slow developing, for the most part.
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Week 2 Preview – Robert Morris Colonials

The Game Vitals

Game Time – 6pm.  Alerus Center (Grand Forks, ND)

OpponentRobert Morris Colonials (Pittsburgh, PA)

Game NotesUND

TV – Midco Sports Network & Fox College Sports

Online StreamingBig Sky TV (free)

Spread – North Dakota -9 (favored by 9 points)

Robert Morris Breakdown

– Offense = Pistol, Spread look with 3 receivers, 1 tight end and 1 back.

– Defense = 3-4 defense, similar to UND’s

RMU lost 29-10 to a good Eastern Kentucky team last week.  They were gashed on the ground by the Colonels to the tune of 400+ yards, which should have the UND offensive staff salivating.  They did cause four turnovers and did not turn it over themselves, but gave up an astounding 624 yards of offense.

We see the RMU offense running the ball at least 50-60% of the time on Saturday.  They like to spread you out in 3 receiver sets and use the tight end as a blocker to get their yards on the ground.  RB Rameses Owens appears to be their guy as he had 10 carries last week for 38 yards.

QB Luke Brumbaugh was 28-51 for 222 yards last week and shows decent arm strength.  Their route combinations do not seem overly complex so it’s up to UND to line up correctly and make a play.

North Dakota – Keys To The Game

Offensively, UND needs to get the running game going early.  They committed to it last week, rushing the ball 32 times for 118 yards, and will no doubt be trying to get it going again this week.

The running backs need to hit the hole harder this week.  Stop dancing in the box and get through the hole.  This offensive line is not going to create dump-truck size hole’s every play so they need to find the crease and go.

Defensively, UND is possibly going to be without a few players that played last week at San Jose State.  We are still waiting on the status of safety Cole Reyes, along with safeties Baylee Carr and Joe Montague.  If they cannot go that leaves William James and Dillon Olson, both walk-ons and not ideal to say the least.  That means the front seven needs to step up even more and shut down the RMU running game that they have hinted they will use more this week.  RMU only gained 28 yards on the ground last week and have made it a major emphasis heading in to the UND game.

Pressure.  UND created very little pressure last week and that must change on Saturday.  The OLB’s need to step up and collapse the pocket off the edges and force Brumbaugh up into the three down lineman.

The Prediction

We are going to come out and say it:  UND needs to win this game.  There are only so many winnable games for UND and this is one of them.  Having said that, RMU is no slouch.  They have been through some lean years lately, much like UND, but still have an overall solid program.  We think the combination of it being the home opener along with an overall deeper roster will get UND a win on Saturday.

North Dakota  27

Robert Morris  17

 

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San Jose State Game Review

The UND Football team went out to San Jose State on Saturday night and dropped a 42-10 decision to the Spartans.  Obviously, it was not the way UND wanted to start the Bubba Schweigert Era.  Nothing to do but move on and get ready for the home opener vs. Robert Morris.  We are going to start something new by breaking it down very simply for you:  Good and Not So Good (less wordy).

Good

  • The UND offense stuck with the game plan of running the ball, play-action pass and boots that utlilize Mollberg’s athletic ability.  They ended up rushing 32 times for 118 yards.  Install the offense and stick with it – it’s a marathon not a sprint.
  • The play of the inside linebackers.  Will Ratelle and Taj Rich had nice games and really stuck out on Saturday.  Loved the way they would trigger on run plays and made multiple nice open field tackles.  They combined for 15 tackles and 1 TFL.
  • Reid Taubenheim.  The true freshman kicker nailed a 42-yarder in his first collegiate attempt and also put both of this kickoffs into the end zone.
  • Run defense.  It was not outstanding but not awful either (maybe we should have a new category called “indifferent”).  SJSU rushed the ball 40 times for 150 yards.  That didn’t beat UND.
  • RT Sean Meehan was under the microscope in our eyes, and we thought for playing his first game there against an FBS opponent, he played well.
  • Kyle Ruhe showed a flash of what he’s capable of on his 51 yard reception and why the coaching staff seems to be high on him.  He can be a weapon.
  • JUCO transfer Cedric Simmons showed promise running the ball in between the tackles and finished with 56 yards on 13 carries.
  • Young wideouts showed small glimpses of what they are capable of.  Not there yet but they look the part.

Not So Good

  • Punt Coverage.  Granted they were backed up on their own 1 yard line and never got out of the hole before punting, but the coverage on the punt return for a TD by Tyler Ervin was bad.  Even on the punt before that, it took offensive lineman Sean Meehan to make an unbelievable open field tackle on the fastest player on the field (Ervin) or there would have been two punt return for TD’s.  (We know that there was not much hang time on the punts due to a true freshman kicking but the coverage had major gaps in it).
  • Perimeter defensive play.  UND needs more out of their Safeties and OLB’s, arguably the two most important positions in a 3-4.  Both positions didn’t get much done on Saturday and need to drastically improve.  They blew coverage/contain on two boots-legs on the goal line and the OLB’s didn’t create much pressure at all on Saturday.
  • 3rd Down Defense.  SJSU went 7 for 11 on third down.  UND needs to find ways to get more effective on first and second down to make third down become harder.  Too many easy two-way go’s for the Spartans on third and 6 or less.
  • Pass Defense.  Blake Jurich, a senior making his first start ever looked as good as his predecessor (Fales) on Saturday.  He went 22 for 25 and 250 yards and 3 TD’s.  Some throws were way too easy and at least a couple should have been picked off.  Have to capitalize on opportunities.
  • UND lost the turnover battle 2-0, both made by QB Joe Mollberg.  He needs to take better care of the ball moving forward.  The decision and throw on the interception were both bad.  Throw it to the sidelines or just eat it.  That way you still have an opportunity to kick the FG from the 20-25 yard line.
  • Overall performance at the center and right guard spot needs to improve.
  • Simmons “chop-block” penalty was a killer.  We saw him attempt to cut block defenders on multiple plays.  He will need to learn how to take on blockers and engage and sustain a block on linebackers while staying upright.
  • WR group needs to be able to get off the line better while being pressed.  It will come with time, but Saturday showed the youth and inexperience of the group.  SJSU showed little respect for UND’s running game and simply manned up out on the WR’s.
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Week 1 Preview – San Jose State Spartans

The UND Football team opens the 2014 season this Thursday, August 28th out at San Jose State, an FBS program from the Mountain West Conference.  Game time is set for 9pm central time.  The Spartans were picked 5th in the MWC-West Preseason Poll and were 6-6 last season.

TV:  ESPN3  Radio:  All UND Radio Affiliates.

UND Defense vs. SJSU Offense

UND is going to see an offense that is typical of most collegiate offense’s these days: shotgun, spread look with 3 receivers, maybe 4, and alot of read-handoff zone running plays.  They like to employ one running back and a tight end to with those three receivers.  Hog (balanced) and Tom (trips) formations with the tight end in the game.   SJSU runs a no-huddle offense but does not operate at a frantic pace, like Baylor or Oregon.  They will usually setup and take 15-20 seconds of the play-clock trying to read the defense before snapping ball.

SJSU only has 5 returning starters on offense and lost some of their heavy hitters from last season in QB David Fales, WR Chandler Jones and WR Kyle Nunn.

QB Blake Jurich won the fall camp battle vs. Joe Gray to be the starter vs. UND.  Jurich has backed up current NFL QB David Fales for the past two seasons and has not seen much action at all.  He attempted six passes last season total.  At 6’4″ he will have the ability to survey the field in the passing game and does have a past history of being able to run the ball.  Jurich was in a camp-long battle with soph. Joe Gray but won the position after the second scrimmage.  Gray is the runner of the two and UND must be aware when he enters the game, which is inevitable being it was such a tight QB race.

SJSU’s main RB, Jarrod Lawson has been suspended for the first two games of the season, vs. UND and Auburn.  He was their leading rusher last season with 788 yards and 4 TD’s.  The man to take his place is #3 sophomore Thomas Tucker (5’10-195).  He ran for 338 yards last season.  We fully believe that SJSU will run the ball much more than they did last season now that Fales is gone.

WR #15 Tyler Winston is their go-to-guy at wide receiver.  The 6’2-190 sophomore had a huge freshman season for the Spartans with 58 receptions for 858 yards and 5 TD’s.  Winston is a big-play threat every time he touches the ball and will need full attention from the UND secondary.  A guy who has blown up in fall camp is converted RB #7 Tyler Ervin.  He is apparently their speed guy and has made multiple long receptions in fall camp.  If Ervin is in the slot that could present problems for the UND safeties.

The weakest part of the SJSU offense appears to be the offensive line.  They only have two players back that actually started a game in their careers in junior Wes Schweitzer and senior David Peterson, who is their best OL and a Rimington candidate.  This bodes well for the UND defense as they must get a good effort from their defensive line to try and slow down Tucker and the SJSU run game.

Expect to see at least four true freshman playing for the UND defense vs. SJSU.  Corner Chris Carter, Corner Deion Harris, DE Drew Greely, and DE Brandon Dranka will all get some playing time in the game.  We believe Harris to be the nickel/dime defensive back.

Keys to the game for UND Defense:

  1. Defend the long ball.  SJSU is going to take their shots deep.  They have deep threats to do it and if UND is able to defend the majority of them, using the much-improved technique and overall play that we have seen through fall camp, they will have a shot.
  2. Slow down the run.  They won’t stop it but they need to tackle well from the LB and S spots to make them snap it again.  Made/missed tackles will once again be the difference for this UND defense.
  3. Get off the field on third down.  Give the UND offense as many reps as they can to try and get their own running game going and control the clock.  There are going to be multiple three and outs by the UND offense, we know that.  The UND defense needs to return the favor and get a few of their own.
  4. Recognize the screens early.  SJSU is going to run alot of screens – bubble, quick, slip, etc.  UND needs to recognize these as they are developing and react up to stop them.  If they don’t they will continue to see them throughout the game.  Screens are a tough play to defend on a consistent basis.

UND Offense vs SJSU Defense

The UND offense has a lot of questions marks entering the first game of 2014.  Joe Mollberg is under the spotlight as the sophomore QB will be counted on to make big strides this year under center.  This first game against the Spartans could be a big indicator on the direction of his development under 1st year coordinator Paul Rudolph and his new offense.  In addition to that, there is an unknown element on the right side of the offensive line and how effective they can and will be in the run game.  The wide receiver group also has something to prove with graduation, attrition and youth at that position since last season.

We expect to see a ball control offense early on, more so than last year.  The running game needs to be the catalyst for the tempo of the offense.  Even if it’s tough sledding early on, we think there will be persistence there to help Joe Mollberg feel more comfortable when dropping back to pass by keeping SJSU guessing in defensive playcalling.  Having said that, it’s really unknown by us as to how UND will want to try attack the SJSU defense and what their game plan will be.  There are so many unknowns right now regarding the Spartans defense.

One big reason for this uncertainty is that the Spartans have a new defensive coordinator in Greg Robinson.  Robinson was the D-coordinator for the Denver Broncos during their back-to-back Super Bowl runs with John Elway in 1998 and 1999.  He has since held defensive coordinator positions with the Kansas City Chiefs , Texas Longhorns (twice), Michigan Wolverines and was head coach for Syracuse from 2005-2008 – quite the resume to say the least.  Robinson ran a 4-3 at Syracuse as the head coach, but in his latest stint as DC with the Longhorns in 2013, he ran a “stack” look in a 3-4 similar to what UND runs.  This just adds to the uncertainty on what we believe UND will see tonight.  We’re betting UND has had a tough time prepping for his defense because of this.

A couple things we think might be imminent:  a blitzing SJSU defense given the inexperience of the UND offensive line and the problems UND showed on film last season picking up pressure; SJSU cornerbacks challenging the UND wideouts in press coverage on the line of scrimmage, specifically on the backside of 3 by 1 sets.  When in zone coverage, we think SJSU could potentially play a lot of cover 4 in balanced sets when they aren’t blitzing.  It will be interesting to see if the young UND WR corps will be able to get off the line in press-man situations.  That could be a big factor in the success of the UND passing game.

Keys to the game for UND Offense:

1.  Control the tempo of the game early on.  Weather the storm in the run game and any other potential shortcomings including early turnovers.  Do not abandon the running game unless absolutely necessary.  We expect to see a minimum of 12-15 carries by the UND RB stable in the first half.
2.  Ease Joe Mollberg into the passing game.  Build his confidence by using his athletic ability with boot and rollout looks to give him easy reads and possible run/pass options on the edge early on.
3.  Execute screen and draw game to slow down the defensive pressures we believe SJSU will use early and often.  They cannot become comfortable pinning their ears back by sending 5 and 6 man pressures, specifically on 3rd down early in the game.
4.  Play the field position grudge match.  Even with the youth on special teams and defense, UND needs to rely on making the field longer and make the Spartan offense have to drive the ball on long drives.
5.  Turnovers.  Any more than 2 for the UND offense spells trouble.

Prediction

It’s going to be a battle of which staff can adjust when the unknown’s become known’s.  Obviously, SJSU has the better overall athletes on the field.  Can UND come together on offense enough to sustain drives and get points?  Can the UND defense hold up in the back end with all their youth and inexperience?  Will the two true freshman kickers be able to perform under the bright lights out in San Jose?  Too many question marks and peach fuzz in all three phases tonight, in our opinion.  We’d love to be wrong.

San Jose State   27

UND   14

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Presser Notes – Defections, etc.

  • According to Head Coach Bubba Schweigert, WR Aeron Carr has left the program.  Carr was a highly recruited member of the 2013 recruiting class out of Mesa, AZ.  He was an outstanding track athlete in high school and many had hoped he would be the next Greg Hardin or Weston Dressler.  That didn’t materialize as the track speed never quite translated to the football field.  Carr found himself passed up by true freshmen Brandon Walker and Dev Ferguson on the depth chart and probably would never have gotten back on top.   
  • We have also heard that walk-on juco safety Aaron Rogers has quit the team.  He was not in the two-deep and don’t quite understand why he would be quitting but good luck to him in the future.   
  • To say this year’s Junior College signing class turned out to be a disappointment is putting it mildly.  They signed 7 players and had one walk-on.  Only five of the eight are left on the team (Simmons, Boas, Flowers, Blackmon, and Cerriteno) and of those five only two are in the two-deep depth chart (Simmons and Boas).  Cerriteno has been hurt the entire fall camp.  The biggest losses were the two who didn’t qualify in Brendan Slaight and Chris Hannible.  We see Blackmon contributing on multiple special teams but do not know if Flowers will play this year or redshirt.  We will know more after Thursdays game.  
  • What we are seeing is similar to what we saw last season.  There will be a few true freshman who can play just well as the late juco transfers that UND will find.  Last season Cam Kuksa ended up being one of their best defensive players as a true freshman.  The problem is not knowing how good they will be until August 1st rolls around.  
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UND Depth Chart Released

The UND Football Week 1 Depth Chart was finally released this past week and to say there were some surprises is an understatement.  We have given our thoughts in the past on who we thought would be the starters at certain positions, but it appears we were off on a few.

 

Offense

  1. UND will have two true freshman receivers in the Top 4.  It appears true freshman Brandon Walker will be starting opposite senior RJ McGill.  Fellow true freshman Dev Ferguson will be backing up McGill.
  2. The left side of the offensive line with Devin Barton at tackle and Brandon Anderson at guard will be solid.  We were surprised to see juco transfer Colton Boas earn the starting nod at center.  We know true freshman Jake Francis has impressed thus far so we are assuming he will still get in at either center or right guard.  The right side of OL seems a bit unsettled with Sean Meehan moving out to right tackle and Ben Henson, who played DL is first four years on campus, starting at right guard.  Will have to see how it works out after a few weeks.
  3. Multiple running backs will be playing on Thursday.  That position on the depth chart at this point doesn’t mean much in our opinion.  The committee approach will be shown all season until someone grabs it and runs.
  4. As has been stated everywhere, Joe Mollberg has beaten out Ryan Bartels at QB to take over the reigns for the season opener.  Mollberg has played OK in camp but still needs some seasoning to get this offense where it needs to be.  Game 1 in San Jose will give us an idea where Mollberg is mentally in comparison to last year.  Has he improved in that department?  We know he has the physical ability.

Defense

  1. One glaring omission from the defensive line two-deep is sophomore Marcus Cheatom.   Being he isn’t in the two-deep tells us he is not even traveling.
  2. Sophomore Taj Rich has beat out senior Ben Peters at weakside ILB.  We assume they both will play but that is a significant move by the defensive staff.
  3. Junior Chris Brown is starting at cornerback, opposite senior transfer Alex Tillman.  Brown is a guy who has evolved greatly under the new staff and will be a better player this year.  A shocker is that juco transfer Charles Flowers did not make the two-deep.  That makes us wonder if he is even traveling.
  4. True freshman Joe Montague has earned the backup free safety spot in a major shocker.  We know they moved transfer Dom Blackmon over to safety part way through camp but to have Montague ahead of him is very interesting.
  5. Freshman Jake Disterhaupt and junior Garrett Reineke have beaten out Alex Hickel and Javen Butler for the backup OLB spots.  That is a quite a surprise.  Although all of them will probably play special teams, it is still an interesting development.

Special Teams

  1. Here is where the biggest shocker of them all has developed.  Sophomore punter Mitch Meindel is going to suspended for several games to start the season.  What is weird is he was taking full reps at punter halfway through camp.  Tells us they must have just found out.  Not good for the team at all.  That leaves true freshman Connor Bolduc to take over the punting duties.
  2. To make things worse, part way through camp Meindel was also being looked at to be the kicker.  Now, UND must start another true freshman in kicker Reid Taubenheim.  Yep, another true freshman starter on special teams.
  3. To make things even more interesting, true freshman snapper Jacob Holmen was in a dogfight with Brandon Larson for the snapping duties.  Could we possibly see THREE true freshman at the three special teams positions?
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