Coming off their biggest win of the season, the Fighting Sioux (3-2) return home to take on the Montana Western Bulldogs (1-4). The Sioux moved up to #20 in the FCS Coaches Poll and were just outside the Top 25 in a couple others. Game time is set for 1pm at the Alerus Center. The game can be seen through the fightingsioux.com website.
UND Offense vs. MW Defense
The Sioux offense needs to open up the passing game against an inferior Montana Western defense and secondary. We know UND can run the ball successfully, now the o-line and RB’s need to work on its pass protections and Joey Bradley needs to try get into a flow moving forward in to the bye week. Look for Spencer Bickel and Adam Shaugabay to get some carries to help save on wear and tear for Miller and Garman. Not sure if Mitch Sutton is playing this week, our guess is he will take the day off with the bye coming up. The WR’s also need to assert themselves and grab control of this game and find some continuity with Bradley in order to gain a rapport and confidence in each other moving forward into the bulk of the tougher remaining GWC schedule. No more dropped balls or missed opportunities. Time for the receiving corps to mature and make the next step.
While we all need to remember that Bradley is basically a redshirt-freshman by age, we want to see him start making improvements on the things he has struggled with early so far this year. Pocket presence, making quicker decisions on throws with his reads, and connecting on deep balls from time-to-time when they are there for the taking. He already understands how to “manage” the game as he has showed he will not throw it up for grabs and turn it over. We’ve see that he has the tools to do all of these things. He just needs to be more consistent. His long TD to Hardin on the post route against Southern Utah is the perfect example – he looked off the safety one way and held him with his eyes for a count before coming back to the other side to find Hardin and connect with him. Had he not held the backside safety off with his eyes initially, he may have had time to get there and make a play on the ball as Hardin was hit immediately after the catch in the end zone. This is stuff that takes a few years to master, and we already see that Bradley has that QB acumen in him.
The offense needs to show future opponents that they can open up the passing game and be successful with it in order to take some pressure off the run game and to avoid other defenses stacking the box so much. We hope for and foresee a big game from Bradley and the UND WRs.
UND Defense vs. MW Offense
The Sioux defense is coming off one of their best performances in many years vs. Southern Utah. The challenge this week will be to keep their level of play high vs. a team that is from a lower division.
QB #12 Zach McRae is the best player on this Bulldog team and seems to be the key to the offense. The transfer U of Montana transfer is averaging 212 yards per game through the air and has an impressive 6 TD’s vs. 1 INT on the year.
#28 Charlie Dotson is their main weapon in the running game. He is averaging 53 yards per game and has 4 TD’s on the year. The Bulldog rushing attack does not appear all that strong as they only get around 100 yards per game on average.
#2 Casey Lamping is by far their best wide receiver. He has 3 TD’s on the year and is averaging 50 yards per game. At 6’1″ – 195 lbs, he could be a physical presence for the Bulldogs this weekend. Interesting note: WR #3 Deryk Van Zee, a Fighting sioux signee in the class of 2007, transferred to Montana Western after a year at UND and will be suiting up for them Saturday.
This game is more about UND doing what they need to do on defense than anything else. We do not know what kind of offense MW runs because of extremely limited access to their games. Based on what we have read, the Sioux should be able to come out and do their thing to secure a win. The backups on the defensive line need to continue to improve to provide depth that can be counted on late in the year. The same can be said for the outside linebacker position. Alot of youth there also.
With next week being a nicely timed bye week, the Sioux have nothing to look forward to and should have their full focus on the Bulldogs. We expect another dominant effort similar to the BHSU game due to the fact that Montana Western is a lower level team and that’s how these things should work. Go out and play a clean game, get the win, and head into the bye week at 4-2 and most importantly 1-0 in the GWFC.
North Dakota 55
Montana Western 7