The long awaited arrival of the 2012 football season is finally here for the UND Football team. They kickoff the year tonight against South Dakota Mines at 7pm at the Alerus Center.
Mines is a transitioning DII school who went 1-10 last year. Due to that poor record they brought in Head Coach Stacy Collins, who spent the 2011 season as the special teams coordinator at Portland State. UND plays Portland State next week at the Alerus Center.
S.D. Mines Offense vs. UND Defense
The Hardrockers are led by newly appointed starting quarterback Mike Zanutto, who is a transfer from Delta College in California. They have installed the Pistol offense, which is also what Portland State runs. Mines appeared to be a spread-option team last season so there will probably be some growing pains in the first few weeks. The Pistol is known for being more of a running offense, with some boots and rollouts mixed in, so we are assuming that is what UND will see on Thursday.
Last season the Hardrockers (we love saying that) were fairly inept on offense, averaging a paltry 15 pts/game. However, they do have their leading receiver back in Marshall Davis, who had 51 catches for 663 yds and 4 TD’s in 2011. Davis is 6’2″ and could present some matchup problems for UND’s corners. However, with UND’s secondary play appearing to be much improved, we don’t see the Rockers passing game hurting UND too much on Thursday.
For UND this game is all about executing their game plan and not worrying about what Mines is doing. When playing an inferior opponent you hope to execute the game plan as it was installed and limit the mental mistakes. The rest should take care of itself.
S.D. Mines Defense vs. UND Offense
All signs and the depth chart point to a 3-4 alignment defensively for Mines tonight, led by playmaking OLB Pat Shaw, who made the position change from safety this year. We’re certain you can expect a change from them on the fly as the game flow dictates – depending on what the UND offense is successful at. Again, we do not know much about their defense because of the lack of film online and the new staff.
There will be a simple objective for the UND offense: Execute the game plan.
Personnel-wise, UND will obviously have the upperhand. Braden Hanson will need to get comfortable immediately in the passing game and start building a rapport with his wide receivers at game speed. We expect to see a lot of 1-back formations to rotate different receiver groups. Make no mistake though, UND will run the ball and they should be able to do it effectively after having worked against the 3-4 scheme all of fall camp.
This is the first official game post-transition. Enough said. The players should be ecstatic that they are finally playing games which count towards a potential playoff berth. While the offense will probably be limiting the game plan, we fully expect them to take their shots down field tomorrow to try and get the extended passing game going. We fully expect UND to hit multiple long balls tonight.
S.D. Mines 6