Valpo Game Thoughts

UND came out and did as most expected, they pounded a severely under-manned Valparaiso team 69-10 last Thursday night.  We will take an objective look at the game and are going to focus on what we didn’t like vs. what we did.  To be able to throw the ball and run the ball vs. Valpo should be a given, frankly.  UND did that.  However, there were a few things that need to be addressed before they start their gauntlet of three straight Top 20 FCS teams in a row, all at home.

  1. Total Yardage = UND 541  –  Valpo 174.  Wide margin as it should have been.  It would have been much worse had there not been 2 special teams returns for touchdowns.
  2. QB Ryan Bartels was 10-12 for 210 yds and 1 TD (75 yards to Greg Hardin first play of game).  Bartels looked good, ran a smooth offense and didn’t make any mistakes.  Good start for him.  This week will be much more difficult.
  3. QB Joe Mollberg came in and did a good job as well.  He made some very good throws and looked pretty comfortable making his reads in the pocket.  He did take a sack early on when right tackle Darren Deneui got beat around the edge.  Mollberg definitely displayed some of the tools he possesses.
  4. WR Greg Hardin was too much for Valpo, which once again, was expected.  He ended the game with 5 catches for 163 yds and 1 TD.  He also broke a 90 kick return for a TD to start the 2nd half.
  5. Valpo had 6 runs of over 8 yards during the game.  Doesn’t sound like much until you look at the score.  Many of these runs were when the starters were still in for UND and  many of the runs also took place between the tackles, notably off guard and tackle.  Way too easy at times and that should not be happening uncontested vs. Valpo.  The run defense has a long way to go this week against SDSU.
  6. Tackling appeared to be better overall compared to last year.  There were a few missed tackles that turned into long runs by Hutson.  It needs to be even better this Saturday.
  7. Special teams has us a bit concerned heading into Week 2.  There were multiple miscues and most of them were of the “unforced” variety.  The first punt snap of the game bounced and led to freshman punter Mitch Meindel scooping it up and running the ball for a first down.  It was not a fake punt. Also, senior Chavon Mackey was offsides on a punt return, giving the ball back to Valpo because 4th down was less than 5 yards.  That is completely unacceptable for a senior.  Then, punt returner Jer Garman misread the spin of the punt and came up short when trying to catch it.  The ball hit Garman and the Crusaders recovered and it led to their first score, a field goal.  Kicker Zeb Miller also missed a relatively easy FG attempt.  UND is not good enough to overcome these mistakes against the better teams on the schedule.
  8. To be fair about special teams there were obviously some very good plays made also, most notably Kenny Golladay’s punt return for TD and Hardin’s kick return for a TD.  On Hardins KR, the blockers did an excellent job of blowing everybody up on the interior and Hardin only had to make one cut and it was over.
  9. Freshman snapper Brandon Larson had a pretty good debut.  There was no shortage of chances for him to fail and he only skipped the one punt snap to Meindel.  Every one of his extra point and field goal snaps were solid.
  10. It was a relatively clean game for both teams – 6 penalties for 50 yds total.
  11. A positive defensively was their ability to get off the field on third down.  Valpo was 3-14.
  12. Secondary play was fairly solid throughout the night.  On the long TD pass, corner Rumeal Harris got spun around but recovered nicely and was right there to make the play but QB Ben Lehman threw a perfect ball to Fred Gladney and Valpo got their only TD of the game.
  13. Will Ratelle and C Shea Walker were both injured during the game.  We have not heard an updated status on them.  Both are important cogs in UND’s chances of upsetting SDSU on Saturday.
  14. Noticeably missing from Saturday’s game were WR Jameer Jackson and freshman safety Cam Kuksa, who was expected to have his redshirt pulled and was going to play special teams and safety this season.  No reasons were given, but hopefully they aren’t injury related and both are able to play this week.
This week is a whole different ballgame with the #6 ranked South Dakota State Jackrabbits coming to town.  The UND run defense will need to shore up some things or it will be a long game as the Jacks love to run the ball right down teams throats with their massive offensive line.  The running attack is also complemented by a very capable QB and passing game.  This will a huge step up in competition from Valpo and will provide a nice measuring stick of where UND is at in the FCS pecking order to date.  Should be a fun Potato Bowl game vs. an old NCC foe.


4 Responses

  1. Nodak78

    This is a must game for UND. I think SDSU will be the easier to beat than, Montana, MSU or EWU. Defense and special teams will need to be much improve for us to win as you stated. We need to be on the plus side of turnovers as well.

    1. There was 9,300 for the Valpo game. We fully expect 11,000 for this game. Potato Bowl is always a good draw and having a familiar opponent who is ranked #6 in the country should help tremendously.

  2. Mel

    After watching UND vs SDU I wish our Defense was better but they have shown improvements. I Like watching Hardin and Golladay

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