UND lost 49-41 in what was a wild shootout at Qualcomm stadium Saturday night. UND had the ball at the end to tie it but came up a few inches short on 4th and 17 to end the game. Here is our reaction to how the game played out:
- For the second straight week the UND defense gave up 500+ yards, which is obviously unacceptable. They are no longer in the transition and the fans, including ourselves, expect the team to progress but so far the defense has not improved from last year. We will give them a slight benefit of the doubt due to completely unknown opponents and a much tougher schedule but things like tackling and alignment are not exclusive to your opponent, they are a constant.
- Defensively, UND played poorly. Way too many breakdowns in coverage, poor technique, missed tackles and assignments, etc. As the second half wore on, there were more and more missed tackles. The tackling in the first half was much better than the second half, which could be a product of the heat, etc.
- UND missed QB Ryan Katz 3-4 times in the backfield for what would have been much needed sacks.
- They did not force a turnover in the game and got only one sack.
- The defensive line appeared to play alright but being a 3-4 scheme they are not the one’s counted on to make the plays. The back seven did not step up and make the tackles consistently.
- When SDSU flipped the TE to an unbalanced look it really gave UND problems in the run game. SDSU probably did it 15 times in the game and gained big yards on many those plays.
- The good thing is the UND defensive players have all the motivation they need to get better as they enter the Big Sky portion of the schedule. They have the ability to be a better defense than they have shown but as they are figuring out, its going to take alot more time and effort than during the transition.
- Kicker Zeb Miller had a nice day, connecting on both of his field goal chances (34, 43).
- Marcus Hendrickson continues to impress us – 434 yds and 4 TD’ will do that. Having said that, he missed some easy throws he should make. He also got some happy feet in the pocket at times, which was a product of the pass protection. His athleticism and scrambling bailed out UND on more than one occasion.
- UND WRs have got to stop dropping balls they should catch. Greg Hardin dropped two more balls, of which at least one was a TD. He is too good of a player to allow that to happen anymore. The entire WR corps is so amazingly talented – stop dropping the balls you should catch and keep making the catches that you shouldn’t.
- Offensive line play has been disappointing overall the last 2 weeks. It absolutely needs to be better. Pass protection is too inconsistent and the running game has been below average. You could tell that Hendrickson wasn’t quite sure about his protection a few times by bailing out early after having guys at his feet constantly. Having Joe Kleason out is proving to be a difference-maker. In their defense, the talent they have faced up front is above average. We want to see the offensive line take control of the game and dominate from here on out.
A few things offensively to consider having said all of that: UND took what the SDSU defense gave them. When they are running guys down to the box, the running game is going to drop off and the passing yards SHOULD pile up like they did. Also, the quick and undersized defensive front was very athletic and the 3-3-5 defense presents some challenges that they aren’t used to seeing up front. Not excuses by any means, just observations. Also, there are TEs and RBs that need to be accountable in pass protection. We might be being a little hard on the boys, but these are our very amateur expectations – which are high, as they should be.