Thought we would hammer you with stats, thoughts, & opinions now that UND is done with their bye week and moving on to the second half of the 2014 season.
Here is UND’s Big Sky Conference statistical ranking through 7 total games (13 teams):
- UND Offense = 13th – 13.7 pts/game.
- UND Defense = 2nd – 22.7 pts/game.
- UND Total Offense = 13th – 231.3 yds/game
- UND Total Defense = 2nd – 334.6 yds/game
- UND Rushing Offense = 13th – 78.1 yds/game
- UND Rushing Defense = 1st – 126.9 yds/game
- UND Passing Offense = 12th – 153.1 yds/game
- UND Passing Defense = 4th – 207.7 yds/game
- Turnover Margin = 0.00. 12 giveways and 12 takeaways.
The offensive rushing numbers are similar to last season but the 2014 offense is throwing for about 130 yds/game less. They have also thrown the ball less than half as much in 2014 as they did last season so those numbers are skewed a bit.
The UND offensive line is still struggling to find consistency or any sustained success. Pass protection has been a mixed bag, not as bad as some think, but their run blocking has been consistently average-to-poor. 78 yds/game and an average of 2.3 yds/rush isn’t going to get it done.
Losing senior WR RJ McGill to a season ending knee injury hurts bad. He was the bonafide leader of this team, not to mention the most consistent and best WR. McGill also returned kickoffs so UND has to scramble there.
A group that has over-achieved this year, bigtime, is the UND defensive line. There are zero all-conference type players in that bunch. Plus, they lost Kyle Woodsmall a few weeks ago, along with Shea Walker quitting. Now they are rolling with 7-8 total defensive lineman, all of which are lunch pail type of players. When watching the games over again, this group works their tails off every play to hold the line and allow guys like Will Ratelle and Taj Rich to rack up huge tackle numbers.
We love the energy that Jordan Hinojosa has brought to this team . The guy is a fireball of emotion and epitomizes the type of effort that we touched on above. He has the tools to be disruptive in the backfield but his best trait is pure effort.
Let’s also keep in mind that the UND defense is doing all of this without the aid of a consistent, booming punter to pin other offense’s deep in their own end. With returning punter Mitch Meindel suspended for four games, UND was forced to use true freshman walk-on punter Connor Bolduc. We preface this by saying that Bolduc has done a pretty damn good job considering he is supposed to be a scout this year and did not get named the starting punter until 7 days before the SJSU game. He hasn’t gotten any punts blocked and has put 10 of them inside the 20 yard line. However, there have been many cases where the UND offense drove out to around their own 30-35 yard line and the opposing offense then ended up starting at their own 30-40 yard line after the punt. 35-40 yard punts are not good enough to consistently win games. A good punt at the end of the game can win the game.
True freshman defensive lineman Brandon Dranka is going to be good. He has the “horsepower” to rush the passer and consistently disrupt plays in the backfield. On the year he has 14 tackles, 3 TFL’s and 1.5 sacks. Not bad for a true freshman in a 3-4 scheme.
UND ended up playing 10 true freshman this year. They also ended up red-shirting two juco transfers (Dylan Bakker and Charles Flowers). Kind of a strange year.
The remaining schedule is favorable to UND as Eastern Washington is the only ranked team left on the schedule. That being said, UND is going to be a dogfight with every team it plays the rest of the year. They are not equipped to blow anybody out so it will always be a grinder, every week, all game. Good drama for the fans, anyway. Winning 4 of the remaining 5 will go a long way to getting this thing back on track. The remaining schedule is:
8. at Southern Utah (1-7)
9. at #2 Eastern Washington (7-1)
10. vs. Weber State (0-7)
11. vs. Northern Arizona (4-3)
12. at Northern Colorado (2-5)