UND lost their first Big Sky Conference game of the season on Saturday to Cal-Poly 35-17. UND took the lead 17-14 early in the fourth quarter but Poly came storming back immediately and answered to take back the lead. UND couldn’t do the same.
- Turnovers and Special Teams were the difference in this game. UND committed 4 turnovers, including the 3rd play of the game on the Hardin fumble, which set an early tone. Poly immediately capitalized with a TD. On Special Teams, we feel UND lost the battle for the first time in a long time with the failed fake punt and blocked FG.
- We would like to applaud the aggressiveness that UND and Head Coach Chris Mussman showed on Saturday. The fake punt was a good call in a good situation and if Daryl Brown stays outside instead of cutting inside, he has a chance to make the first down. We also liked giving Zeb Miller the opportunity to kick the 54 yard FG rather than punt. Even in hindsight, we felt these were the right calls at the right times. We would much rather see them be aggressive like this in Big Sky play rather than conservative.
- Poly is every bit as good as advertised and we give them full credit for that victory. They were the better team on offense, defense, and special teams on Saturday. They have some very good athletes on the field and they should have a say in who wins the Big Sky championship come November.
- The interior of the UND defense is getting gashed way too often. This is the 4th straight game now where a team found easy running lanes between the tackles. Poly had not used the fullback as much coming into this game but obviously saw something they liked. They repeatedly hit #8 Umoh on dives and also ran multiple counter plays that swept back through the middle.
- Poly rushed for 321 yds on 56 carries. Goes without saying that is way too many rushing yards to give up. The strength of the UND defense was rushing defense last season.
- Telling Stat #1 – Cal-Poly was 9-13 on third down. You’re going to win a whole bunch of football games when you can do that.
- Telling Stat #2 – Cal-Poly was 5-6 on scoring chances in the red zone – all TD’s.
- Cal-Poly had the play of the game when they blocked the Zeb Miller FG attempt. It was a 54 yard try, which is hard enough, but the snap was high and threw off the timing. They blocked it, took over on offense, and immediately drove down and scored to make it 28-17 and essentially ending the game. If Miller can connect on that kick it makes it a 21-20 Poly lead. Huge swing.
- We cannot believe that the drops continue to happen for this talented WR group, specifically Greg Hardin. It is unacceptable for players of this caliber.
- Kenny Golladay made another catch that made people say ‘wow’ on his one-handed catch and run on a corner route. He is a special talent that was more involved this week in the offense. This needs to continue.
- Marcus Hendrickson struggled a little against the zone coverages by the Poly defense. He missed on a few balls that he needs to connect on – a couple of which were big-gainers and/or TDs if he connects. However, he did breathe life into the offense once again with his legs by extending plays and getting first downs by scrambling.
- Offensive line play was average. Cal-Poly caused problems up front with their athletic and deep defensive front. The hogs had too many lapses in pass protection and the running game.
One last thing: While it was certainly disappointing for UND to lose this game, there is a lot of season left and their goals are still attainable. The next 3 weeks will be crucial in determining the direction of this team for the rest of the season. The players and coaches will hang in there, the UND fans need to as well. Off to Cheney, WA for a big tilt at The Inferno with Eastern Washington.