Post-Northern Colorado Thoughts

UND went out to Greeley, CO for the last game of the 2012 season and lost a heartbreaker to Northern Colorado on Saturday, 28-27.  The loss dropped their record to 5-6 overall on the season and 3-5 in the Big Sky Conference.  There is no doubt that the UND team wanted to end the season with a winning record and were oh so close to doing it.  From a fan’s perspective it was a very entertaining game to watch.  UNC finished a remarkable turnaround season by finishing tied for 5th in Big Sky play at 4-4, and 5-6 overall – just one year removed from going 0-11.

  • The UND defense did not have a great day, again, but that was to be expected.  They were without 4 starters/top backups and had been getting run on all year.   We knew UNC would try to run but allowing 231 yards to that team is way too much.  They averaged 7 yds/carry.  The top 5 leading tacklers for UND were all defensive backs – never good.
  • Braden Hanson had another great day statistically with 382 yds passing and 3 TD’s but his 3 INT’s were just as big.  The two INT’s in the fourth quarter were killers as UND had the momentum to take the lead.  He did do an excellent job leading UND down the field at the end of the game to set them up in field goal range to win the game.  He definitely knows how to run a two-minute drill.
  • Speaking of the decision to not kick the field goal and go for it on 4th down – the kick would have been 51 yards, which is well within Miller’s range, but would have also been into a slight cross-wind making the kick difficult and somewhat tricky at minimum.  Another factor that people must remember is that UND has had multiple kicks blocked in the past month and protection issues may have come up in the discussion on the UND sideline.  Just a couple variables that we’re sure entered into the equation.  On the flip side there were 47 seconds left.  If they get the first down, they get the ability to run at least 3 more passing plays to try and gain as many yards as possible to make the kick shorter.  Bubble screen, hitch, anything to pick up 5-8 yards.  The problem is their short yardage back, Mitch Sutton, was out for year and not available.  They had to turn to Jer Garman who is not a power back by any means.  He is more of a edge runner.  Maybe would have been better to have a more physical back like Sparks in there.  On top of that, the offensive line was not getting much of a push all day and getting one yard was going to be tough, especially in that situation.  Oh, and one more thing that came to light on Sunday – UNC had 12 guys on the field for that fateful 4th and 1 play.  Yes, TWELVE guys and of course, the Big Sky officials missed it.  After laying all of that out, some might say the safe, easy thing to do would have been to give Zeb Miller an opportunity to kick the football.  Coach Mussman chose not to and it didn’t work out.  Whether you agree or disagree with the call, he’s the head coach and is charged with making those difficult decisions week in and week out.  The decision will definitely be one that is discussed plenty by UND fans over the next few days and into the offseason.
  • Greg Hardin capped off one of the most prolific seasons in UND Football history at the WR position with an 8 catch, 109 yard, 1 TD performance in Greeley on Saturday.  He finishes the season with 65 catches for 1,145 yards and 14 TDs.  Not be be a downer, but that easily could have been 80 catches for 1,400 yards and 18 TDs.  Drops plagued Hardin and the UND wide receivers all season long.

11 Responses

  1. Jon

    Tough call, but they probably made the right decision to try to get the yard. A 51 yarder is tough, even absent the conditions. On top of that you would like to think your offense can pick up a yard.

    A note about the officials, missing 12 men on the field is an absolute disgrace. It is inexcusable. I haven’t watched many BigSky games, but did catch the Cal Poly and NAU game. Poor officiating stood out in that game too. In your experience is has this been a constant in the BigSky or is it a few isolated incidents?

    Also any word of the conference calling and apologizing for missing the 12 men call?

    1. Haven’t heard about the conference apologizing for their officiating miscue. I doubt they will.

      However, if they did that everytime they screwed up major calls, they would be doing it a lot.

      The Big Sky officiating this year was deplorable from what I personally saw for UND games and for all of the other games in the conference that I watched on Root Sports and Big Sky TV throughout the year.

      Absolutely amazing how bad they are. Very disappointing. The Big Sky Conference needs to address this.

  2. Mark

    I understand it’s a tough call to make given the wind, projection, distance, etc., but if you look at what you just wrote (The problem is their short yardage back, Mitch Sutton, was out for year and not available. They had to turn to Jer Garman who is not a power back by any means. He is more of a edge runner. Maybe would have been better to have a more physical back like Sparks in there. On top of that, the offensive line was not getting much of a push all day and getting one yard was going to be tough, especially in that situation.), why on earth would they run it up the gut? On top of that, UNC stacked the box, regardless of the 12th man on the field. You can make excuses about having to make the tough call, but either way it was the wrong call.

    If you need a big physical back and don’t have one, then maybe you shouldn’t run it up the gut. If you need just one yard and look at the possibility of having 3 more plays to run after the 1st down, then maybe you should go for a homerun ball on 3rd and 1. When you have a good kicker who has a strong leg, who was hitting from 59 yards out during pregame, maybe you should kick the FG.

    Running up the gut has been about as successful as our D this year, physical back taking the ball or not, so why go with that play call? If Jer Garman is an edge runner, then why not run him to the edge. If your QB can’t run worth a darn, then why not put in the QB who has a good set of wheels. I understand hindsight is 20/20, but as a head coach you’d have to think that at least ONE of these scenarios would pop up in your head rather than running a 5’9″ 177 RB up the middle against a box with 10 guys in it. That’s why people are so unhappy about it.

    1. Fair points Mark.

      Bringing in Hendrickson on that specific play on a quick play action or boot and give him the run/pass option on the edge was something I specifically had thought of.

  3. Johnny

    I can see the argument for going for it or kicking it. I guess I was more offended by the homerun ball on third down. Either way, it’s a tough pill to swallow.

    On a positive note, thanks for the great coverage this year. I really enjoy reading the blog each week. Hope to see a big post on National Signing Day.

  4. Sioux46

    To me it was allright that we lost the NC game. Winning it and acheiving a winning record would send the wrong message to the coaches and team. They might have been a little too comfortable with the win We didn’t deserve a winning record… horrible defense all year long, no running game etc… all lead me to believe the loss is what this team needed. There needs to be a sense of urgency to “right the ship” and that wouldn’t have come with a win and winning record. The losing record makes the year a very bitter pill to swallow and a more urgent approach on the part of the coaches and players is needed.

    1. We are finalizing our end of the year grades right now and will have that up soon. Then we will move into recruiting. Once again, watch our twitter throughout the winter months because we will release small tidbits in that way.

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