Well, here we are – Week 12 – the last game of the season. The last game of the 5 year transition is finally here and it is only fitting that it be vs. the #24 South Dakota Coyotes (6-4), who #22 UND (7-3) entered into this transition with and have had several memorable games with over that time span. South Dakota is moving into the Missouri Valley Football Conference next season and the Sioux are heading out west to join the Big Sky Conference.
Oh, and we almost forgot. This weekend’s game is for a share of the final Great West Conference Championship ever. Winner gets a share along with Cal Poly, loser takes 3rd place. The recruiting implications are there as well. There should be a bunch of recruits watching this game tomorrow at the Alerus Center.
We cannot say enough great things about the 14 UND seniors who have led the Sioux through a very tough transition and have been great leaders both on and off the field. This senior class came to UND during a time when they knew they wouldn’t get to play in the post-season. On Saturday, they will try to go out with a win, for the final GWC Championship against USD. We hope the UND fans lets them know how much they are appreciated on Saturday.
Game time is 1pm on Saturday at the Alerus Center. The game can be seen on DirecTV FCS 617 and also on the FSSN.
UND Offense vs South Dakota Defense
The Coyotes bring a 4-3 defense to The Alerus that is giving up 23.5 pts/game and has created 22 turnovers so far this year. They are led by Great West leading tackler and linebacker, #44 Adam Broders. Defensive end Tyler Starr (#11) is the pass rushing threat and sack master up front and safety Shane Potter (#8) is the big playmaker in the secondary. Those 3 guys will make the majority of the plays for this Coyote defense on Saturday.
On offense, senior QB Brent Goska will lead UND the offense out on the field for the last time in his career and will be looking to go out with a win. Sutton, Miller and Garman should all be healthy and ready to go for the UND rushing attack on Saturday. They will definitely be called upon once again to set the tempo of the offense. It looks as though the Sioux will again be without senior captain Catlin Solum, who has been injured for the last few weeks now.
Last week, we said WRs McGill, Ivery and Townsend needed to step up big in the absence of Greg Hardin, and they did. Townsend came up with the big TD pass and Jon Heimler stepped in for 1 play to make his 1st career catch for a TD. This WR group will have to step up again and make plays when called upon in what is sure to be another conservative UND offense who will look to gain control of the line of scrimmage with the run game. Hopefully, McGill is over his nagging injury that have slowed him down the past few weeks. Seniors Drew Daggett and Chris Anderson may also play in their last game and be asked to make plays.
On the offensive line, there must be improvement in the running game and on the edge in pass protection. Tackles Connor McKendry and Darren Deneui have had a tough last couple weeks and it wont get any easier this week with Sophomore DE Tyler Starr, who has 12 sacks on the season. The interior line needs to be better overall in the run game and we hope to see a little more of Shea Walker this week at the right guard spot. As always, if this UND offense can’t run the ball, it will be a long day. They must seize control of the line of scrimmage.
UND Defense vs. South Dakota Offense
The Yotes come into the game averaging 26.4 pts/game behind the leadership of senior QB #2 Dante Warren. Warren is the definition of “dual-threat QB” as he is the third leading rusher on the team and has the most rushing TD’s (7). Warren is 104-177 for 1,504 yards and 12 TD’s vs. 7 INT’s. The Yotes are averaging 162 yds/game passing and 173 yds/game rushing. Very balanced.
The Yotes feature a two headed rushing attack. Junior #32 Marcus Sims leads the team in rushing with 643 yard and 4 TD’s. Senior #20 Chris Ganious is second on the team with 407 yards and 2 TD’s. Their rushing attack with be one of the better ones that UND faces this season when you factor in the scrambling ability of Warren.
The receiving corp has everybody back from last year and is a very dangerous group. They are led by big play threat #17 Will Powell, who has 37 catches for 689 yards and 5 TD’s. He is a deep threat and will demand full attention of the secondary at all times. #1 Dustin Nowotny is second on the team with 26 catches for 291 yards and 4 TD’s. #5 Jeremy Blount is third on the team with 23 catches for 442 yards and 4 TD’s. As you can see the Yotes have three receivers who are legitimate threats and that makes it much harder on the secondary.
Once again, the success of the Sioux defense will come down to the play of their secondary. The Yotes like to take their shots deep using play-action and if the Sioux can successfully defend those attempts early and get some confidence it will go a long way to determining the outcome of this game. Last year USD hit a few long balls early and things started to snowball on UND as Warren then had the Sioux defense on their heels.
We feel the Sioux defensive line will be able to have success vs. the running game of USD. They won’t shut them down by any means but they can keep their running game under control. The X-Factor in this game is the scrambling of QB Dante Warren. If the Sioux can somehow contain him or catch him early in the scramble they will make life alot easier for themselves. If he is able to take off on 3rd downs and get the first with his legs then it could be a long day for the Sioux. The USD offense has multiple weapons and the Sioux are going to have to have an all-around team effort in this one to win it.
A rivalry game – this is going to be back and forth all day. There is no clear cut favorite whatsoever. It pits two evenly matched teams and is going to take a big play or big mistake by one team to decide the outcome of this game. We think points will be at a premium. Special teams could be huge tomorrow in the field position department. This game could come down to the excellent kickers that each team has in Zeb Miller and Kevin Robb. Which one will hit the big kick to win it? Advantage: UND.