Southern Utah Victory Recap

The Fighting Sioux (3-2) flew out to Cedar City on Saturday and proved everybody wrong with a solid effort on the road in the conference opener.   They defeated SUU (3-2) 26-20 in what was an all-around team effort.  Not one phase dominated but they all seemed to work together to ensure they pulled out the win.

  • Special teams set the tone of this game for UND early on.  Brett Cameron’s first punt of the game was a 64 yard boomer in which he landed it on the 3 and it bounced straight up so the coverage team could down it.  Heck of way to start the game.   It led to the botched snap in the end zone by the SUU punter that resulted in a Sioux safety.  One of many miscues by the Thunderbirds on Saturday.  Cameron had a great day, averaging 44 yards/punt and pinning 4 of them inside the 20.
  • SUU QB Brad Sorenson was 38-54 for 353 yards and 3 TD’s vs. 1 INT.
  • He completed a few very nice passes and showed great arm strength in the game but the Sioux were able to get to him enough to throw off his rhythm.  They had a nice game plan of zone blitzing and allowing their outside linebackers to out-athleticize the SUU offensive tackles.
  • The defense had it’s best effort of the season.   While they gave up a lot of yards passing to a very good QB who was trying to drive and rally his team at the end, the UND defense held down a very potent SUU offense where it matters most – on the scoreboard.
  • The sacks by Dom Bennett and Cordero Finley in the 2nd half were huge momentum killers.  They each put a nice move on the tackle to get to Sorenson.
  • UND CB Daryl Brown had an excellent game.  He made the game saving pick in the end zone but was also all over the receivers on short routes and showed nice coverage throughout.
  • We stated that the Sioux secondary was going to be the key to the game and they responded by having their best effort as a group in a long, long time.  SUU hit passes but were held out of the end zone numerous times while knocking on the door.   The DB’s seemed to changed things up on the receivers and were challenging them up close more often this year .
  • SUU could not run the ball at all.  33 rushes for 23 yards.   The Sioux run defense is as good as it gets.
  • LB Dan Hendrickson (13 tackles) was making plays all day.  The senior showed why he is an all-conference selection.
  • The Sioux defense stopped the Thunderbirds twice on downs inside their own red zone.  Those were huge for momentum.  They don’t officially count as turnovers but they are just as big.
  • Jake Miller’s “fumble” late in the 2nd half was a bad call.   It was obvious to everybody but the line judge who was standing 5 yards away that Miller extended the ball out to reach the stick and the ground caused it to come out. How they messed that one up is beyond us.  To be fair though, there were questionable calls both ways and it probably evened out in the end.
  • On Miller’s 34 yard TD run in the first quarter he put a heck of move on the free safety who was coming up to make the tackle after Miller broke through the line.  The safety never even got a hand on Miller.
  • The Sioux offense only had 252 yards on 61 plays but seemed to make the most of their chances going 2-3 in the red zone.   SUU had 376 total yards on an astounding 87 plays.   For the Sioux defense to hold that potent of an offense to 20 points when they had the ball for 87 plays is even more remarkable.
  • The Sioux offensive line is really starting to gel.   The running game is going better than it has in a long time.  There were some big holes on Saturday, no more than the hole on the 3 yard TD run by Jake Miller in the 4th quarter that resulted in the game winning score.   Miller was never touched on his way into the end zone.  The much-hyped SUU defensive line only had 1 sack on the day.
  • QB Joey Bradley ran an efficient offense once again but was a touch wild in his passing as his 10-21 numbers would show.   We love how he seems to really take care of the ball and is able to keep the Sioux in these games with his smart decisions.   We want to see his completion percentage increase – it has to – but overall he is doing well managing the game and not turning it over.  We think Bradley understands that his defense and special teams can bail out the offense when needed.
  • On the year the Sioux are +1 in turnover margin and that is not including the multiple 4th down stops they have gotten.  Makes a big difference in the outcomes of games.
  • The TD throw to WR Greg Hardin was a well-executed play where Hardin and the inside receiver both went long down the field but crossed about 15-20 yards down field and it created confusion between the safety and corner leaving Hardin wide open on his post route for the TD.
  • Let’s give some credit to the coaching staff for finally breaking through on the road vs. a ranked FCS team.   The Sioux were better prepared in all three phases of the game against a well-coached Ed Lamb squad.  Let’s not forget this is the same SUU team that went to UNLV last week and handed it to them.

8 Responses

  1. JW

    RE QB…. when your stated plan is based on a run offense and you seldom throw on first or second down, the qb is at a disadvantage as far as predictability which translates into a lower percentage of completions. Don’t get me wrong, I like a run based offense but you then have to be satisfied with a qb who “manages the game” and does not turn the ball over by forcing the ball into small windows.

    1. What your saying is true but the Sioux need better than 10-21 if they are going to consistently win. If that means changing up the routes on first and second down to assure a shorter completion than so be it. With the running game going as well as it is, one would think the passing lanes should start to open up a bit.

    2. RD17

      Nine of UND’s 21 pass attempts against SUU were on first down, so what you’re saying about predictability isn’t true. The play calling made an effort to keep the SUU defense honest and off balance, but Bradley and the receivers simply need to make more plays.

      Bradley manages the game well and takes care of the football… it would just take success on 4-5 more pass plays a game for the UND offense to be pretty darn effective.

      1. Good call RD17. I counted 3 drops by UND WR’s again on Saturday. I also counted 2 throws that Bradley absolutely should have connected on and NEEDS to connect on in the future. Lets say 2 of the drops are caught and Bradley hits one of the open “misses” he had. That gets him to 13 for 21 on the day with some more yardage and the game is probably a little different in UND’s favor.

        These drops have become a huge problem. If I had to guess, I would say there have been 12-15 drops so far in 5 games. Unacceptable. This team just isn’t good enough to be able to afford those missed opportunities and still win moving forward.

  2. UND92,96

    Miller’s incredible season is reminding me a lot of 2006 when Chappell burst onto the scene. I never expected he’d have this big of an impact this season, but he has been amazing. And while it doesn’t necessarily matter where a kid is from, it’s always great to see a kid from North Dakota do so well.

    1. Ole in MSP

      Let us hope that the sophomore jinx or whatever that got both Murray and Chappell does not hit again with Miller. I do think he is cut from a different mold so it should not be an issue, but you never know. Re the wide receivers drops that were mentioned earlier; I cannot recall a time in Sioux FB history that we had such stone hands as in the last 2-3 years. Are these guys arthritic or what? It is chronic. Need to get it done guys.

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