We’ll be the first to admit after Chad Spann’s first play, 80 yard TD run to start the game,Â we had the “here we go again” feeling.
Good thing the players on the field didn’t.
This young Fighting Sioux Football Team rallied and overcame many early obstacles last night in Dekalb, IL to lose a heartbreaker to NIU, 23-17.Â
- As much criticism as QB Jake Landry has received already this year, and some of it rightfully so, he put the ball where it needed to be in closing seconds to give UND a shot at the win from theÂ 4 yard line with a second or two to go.Â
- While having a fantastic breakout game, freshman WR Greg Hardin couldn’t come up with the catch inside the 5 yard line on the second to last play of the game.Â Â The kid played a hell of game with 171 yards andÂ a huge 85 yardÂ TD that jumpstarted the Sioux offense. Â Looking forward to watching him progress through the next 4 years.
- Gutsy call by Coach Mussman to go for it on the goal line after the Landry QB sneakÂ was overturned.Â The Sioux needed that shot in the arm but came up 3 inches short on the Josh Murray leap attempt.Â You have to assume your team can get 1 yard and we assume he would do it again if he had the chance.
- UND came up 0-3 on reviews in the game.Â All three seemed to be the right call.
- Freshman kicker ZebÂ Miller kicked a 40 yarder for his first collegiate field goal.Â Good to get the first one out of the way with it also being a crucial, clutchÂ FG that pulled the Sioux within 6.
- While Chris Anderson continues to struggle catching the ball at WR, he came up with a huge play on special teams with a blocked punt.
- NIU was also running the Pistol in this game.Â They switched back and forth from a Pistol set to a Spread Shotgun set.Â
- Story of the game defensively:Â NIU 2 plays – 119 yards – 14 pointsÂ Â (2 big TD runs)
- Rest of the game:Â NIU 69 plays – 391 yards – 9 points
- The UND defense gave up 360 yards of offense by halftime, but clamped down in the second half to hold NIU to 150 yards and gave the offense the ball back when they needed to.Â
- Defensively, Ross Cochran and Dan Hendrickson played outstanding games and Dominique Hawkins came up with an interception return for a TD.Â Hendrickson has been a pleasant surprise thus far.
- Initially, we were surprised and by how the UND defensive line got pushed back in the running game by NIU’s offensive line considering that is the strength of our defense.Â However, it was nice to see them clamp down and do the job when they needed to.Â NIU gave up trying to run with Chad Spann in the 2nd half, going to more a running game that featured QB Harnish.
- The secondary made the biggest improvement from week 1 to week 2 although they were facing a totally different offense with a lesser quarterback.Â NIU had some decent receiversÂ but we could notice the corners getting more confident as the game went on.Â They started pressingÂ NIU’s receivers making them convert their routes into fades instead of 5 yard outs.Â The result:Â incomplete passes.Â
- While the offense cut down on the turnovers this week (2) , they still lost the turnover battle 2 to 1.Â The defense needs to start winning those turnover battles.
- It’s safe to say that everyone realistically thought we would be 0-2 at this point.Â Probably thought we’d have better results at Idaho and maybe less results at Northern Illinois.Â
- A couple of other things to consider.Â The offense that UND is running is different this year and everyone is still in learning mode, coaches included.Â The defense is returning to its roots of the 3-4 defense after getting away from it over the last couple of years.Â The coaches on both sides of the ball are also trying to fit the pieces together with personnel and figure out who belongs where and when.Â We always comment on how young the team is and how there will be growing pains with the players.Â We also believe this to be the case with the coaching staff on both sides of the ball.Â When you start out with two FBS bowl teams, it makes the process even harder.
- One thing is for sure.Â This team improved dramatically from game 1 to game 2 and it could even be said it improved more from the 1st half to the 2nd half of the Northern Illinois game.Â Hopefully, the team rides the confidence and momentum from that into the rest of the season.Â There’s no reason this team shouldn’t be 2-2 going into the South Dakota game at Vermillion on October 2nd.
- The FCS season is just now getting underway.Â We hope to see a lot of support at the Alerus this fall.