SDSU Monday Morning Review

UND lost 35-28 on Saturday night in what turned out to be one heck of a college football game.  UND was down as much as 28-7 at one point in the third quarter but stormed back and actually had a chance to tie it at the end of the game but were intercepted.  Overall, UND did not play anywhere near a complete game, which is about what it would have taken to beat SDSU.

  • RB Zach Zenner was the player of the game for SDSU.  He ended the game with a school record 295 yards and 3 TD’s.  Zenner is a strong, compact back that also has speed and he showed why he is an All-American.  His cutback ability was something that we have not seen in a long time, possibly ever.  UND did a decent job, at times, of holding the line but Zenner would find the backside hole and use his outstanding vision to squirt through it.  He was the Zen Master on Saturday night.
  • Surprisingly, the total yards were even – UND 458.  SDSU 455.  SDSU did their heavy lifting on the ground (298 yds) while UND did theirs through the air (437 yds).
  • The UND defense obviously got gashed on the ground again.  There just seems to be something missing when playing the run.  Physically, the front 7 was overmatched and it showed.  It was obvious from the beginning that UND was going to sell out and play the run by bringing guys from all angles on blitzes.  Not a bad strategy but the guys that blitzed missed Zenner way too many times.  We counted at least 5 times where a blitzer shot through and missed Zenner allowing a big run.
  • Tackling was a major point of emphasis this season and in this game it was not nearly good enough again.  Some of that has to do with Zenner, some with the UND guys just not finishing their tackles.
  • The UND defense was pretty good on third down in this game holding SDSU to 4 of 15.
  • The 4th and inches play that Zenner broke for a 46 yard TD was a backbreaker.
  • UND was without starting DE Seth Stanchik, backup LB Will Ratelle, and starting center Shea Walker due to injuries.  They really could have used all three.  Also, we noticed that starting LT Joe Kleason was not playing in the 4th quarter and starting the game.  He was replaced by Devin Barton, who did a nice job.
  • Given the situation, we felt the UND offensive line held up pretty well in pass protection.  Because of their own ineffectiveness in the running game, UND was forced to chuck it around for 3 quarters.  The SDSU defense had its ears pinned back in the pass rush all game long because they didnt need to respect the threat of run.  Also, Jake Miller rarely helped out in protection and released on a route the majority of the time.  Sure there was pressure at times, but overall we thought the protection was pretty damn good given the variables.  SDSU ended the game with 4 sacks.
  • We do not understand why the more physical RBs don’t get a chance to carry the ball in a game against a physical defense like SDSU.  Jake Miller is diminuitive with some wiggle and speed but cannot hold up physically all game.  Why not try a different style ‘downhill’ RB in a game like that?  They are on the roster.
  • We mentioned in our preview that the UND corners would need to have a good game based on the fact they will more than likely be manned up and on an island.  As it turns out they played very well.  SDSU QB Austin Sumner was only 10-21 for 157 yds and 2 TD’s.  UND did a nice job up front on passing plays of getting pressure and forcing Sumner to move around.  He did not look nearly as good as advertised in this game.
  • On the first touchdown of the game for SDSU, Sumner found WR Jason Schneider running up the seam for a 37 yd TD.  Somehow, UND LB Garrison Goodman ended up on Schneider up the seam and did a heck of job of catching up and trying to faceguard him but Schneider leaped up over Goodman and made an excellent catch.  We did notice, however, on the replay that safety Chavon Mackey was standing in the middle of the field, right behind Goodman, and let Schneider run by him.  Don’t know what coverage they were in, maybe he was free on that play, but it seems odd he would stay put in the middle of the field (only 10 yards deep) while Goodman chased a WR up the seam.  That was a big play as it was third down and would have forced a FG opportunity.
  • QB Ryan Bartels started out well with a great first drive capping it with a long 39 yd TD pass to Greg Hardin.  After that, though, he really could not get in a rhythm as SDSU started to get after him and Bartels lack of mobility really started to show.  He was constantly harassed by the veteran defensive line of SDSU.  Bartels, who was 13-22 for 178 and a TD, was eventually replaced by Joe Mollberg in the third quarter.
  • Speaking of Mollberg, he came in and sparked the offense to three TD drives in the last 17 minutes of the game, showing some good decision making and a strong arm.  Mollberg ended the game 15-23 for 259 yds and 2 TD’s in a little over a quarter of playing time.  His throw to Hardin for 74 yards at the end of the 3rd quarter was a thing of beauty as he was getting pulled from behind and had a Jacks DL in his face as he let it go.  Mollberg hit Hardin perfectly in stride on the post route.
  • We noticed UND used WR Jameer Jackson in a number of unique ways.  Jackson, 6’3″-240, is a big man who loves to use his size to bowl over smaller defenders.  So what UND did was line him up as the RB in the famed “wildcat” formation and it paid off with Jackson running it in from two yards for a TD.  Jackson also lined up at TE a few times, which resulted in a nice running plays.  Obviously, when Jackson is in the game with the other receivers the opponent will more than likely have a dime package in.  So, when Jackson lines up at TE it gives them an edge blocker with the opponent not having a LB in the game to help with the run.
  • On the negative side:  Jackson dropped 2 passes on the second drive as UND was driving in SDSU territory to potentially go up 14-0.  The second drop was a killer as Ryan Bartels made a good throw to the 30 yard line on a dig route on 2nd down.  Jackson would have had room to run and would have converted a first down.  Bartels was sacked on the very next play and UND was forced to punt.  The game could have had a totally different outlook had that drive been kept alive.  Bartels was the victim of 3 dropped ball in the first 2 series (2 by Jackson, 1 by Golladay).  Unacceptable.
  • Freshman punter Mitch Meindel did a nice job after shanking his first ever collegiate punt.  Meindel ended up putting five punts inside the 20, one of which he boomed 57 yds.
  • UND’s kick return game with Greg Hardin was neutralized by SDSU’s “pooch kicks” in throughout the game.  They were taking no chances on Saturday.
  • WR’s Kenny Golladay and Greg Hardin had huge games and were somewhat uncoverable for most of the game.  Golladay ended the day with 8 for 117 and 1 TD while Hardin had 7 for 207 yds and 2 TD’s.  Hardin could have had 250+ if the QB’s hadn’t missed him wide open a couple times.  SDSU is supposed to have one of the best defenses in the MVFC and they had no answer for Hardin.  We saw doubling, pressing, off-coverage and he beat them all.  Hardin is roughly 100 yards away from the UND all time receiving yards record held by Weston Dressler.
  • What UND comes out of this game with is a good old-fashioned QB controversy.  Hard to believe they would not start Mollberg this week but who knows.  They both played alright but the lasting impression to us and the general fanbase was made by Mollberg.  There is and will be lots of debate on the QB situation moving forward.  We think it’s fairly obvious who has the better physical toolbox, but the mental side is a huge part too, especially for freshman QBs.  Mollberg played a hell of a 2nd half, but he still made mistakes, some of which luckily didn’t come back to haunt them like the forced throw into tight coverage on the final drive did (the other side of the field was open on that play).  Bartels seems to make the better pre-snap reads and understands the mental side better at this time, but he did make some very ill-advised decisions and throws as well which is why Mollberg was inserted into the game to try light a spark.  However, the mobility in the pocket and ability to extend plays and physically make throws downfield on the run is an obvious positive on the Mollberg side.  Regardless, the coaches will do what they feel is in the best interests of the team.  One thing is for certain, UND has 2 great freshman QBs to lead them over the course of the next 4 seasons – we are very lucky to have them both.
  • Don’t have too much time to feel bad after a close loss to #6 ranked SDSU – here come the 13th ranked Griz to the Alerus Center.

12 Responses

  1. firg voss reporting

    as much as i love jake he needs to sit….try adam or pj maybe even sharp if he is ready???

    same thing with some other old guys…give the young guys a chance (like edwards did on saturday…he did some damage that henson just cant do)

  2. old hog

    I have to agree. Has Mussman or anyone ever commented on why the other RBs aren’t getting a chance? Even, early in the Valpo game, Garman was the No. 2???

    What are your guys thoughts on whether or not Zenner gets a chance to play on Sundays in a couple years?

  3. Dr. Sioux

    Firg and Old Hog,

    I couldn’t agree more. I commented a few weeks about the love affair with Garman. He only saw the field on a couple of occasions against SDSU. Two things amaze me. First, why Sparks doesn’t get a shot boggles my mind. Second, Shaugaby scores touchdowns against Valpo yet they get fancy and try to put Jackson back there. That play ends up costing the team a timeout because they didn’t have enough players on the field. I understand Jackson was suspended the first game. It seems like Schluesner was trying to “make it up” to him by putting him in the pistol and lining him up at TE. It obviously didn’t benefit the run game to have him in there. Not to mention, he had two crucial drops in the game. Tthe defense is still in need of more talent and better coaching. They insist on playing a 3-4 defense. They are too small up front and the LB corp is not big enough to play this defense. Goodman plays hard but he might be 220 at most. 295 yards is pretty strong evidence that changes need to be made. Montana State and Eastern Washington will kill this defense. Lastly, too many penalties. WR’s had at least two false starts. Defense had 4 personal fouls.
    I hate to be so negative but this game wasn’t as close as the score. For whatever reason, SDSU throws the ball towards the end of the game to stop the clock when you have a kid who pretty much ran at will in the backfield. Mollberg deserves the start against MSU.

  4. Wally

    Wow Dr., that’s quite an analysis. I coach a bit of football and can’t disagree with your points. Personally, I am not a fan of the head coach. He doesn’t seem to inspire the team and has surrounded himself with “yes” men.

    1. Mussman has surrounded himself with some former UND alums, yes. Yes men? No. From everything we know and have heard Kotelnicki is far from a Yes man. Part of Mussman naming alumni to the staff is the fact they are capable and love the university. Another part is that UND does not pay alot for assistants so these guys are young and currently cheaper to hire. We see no problem with his hires when factoring in everything. They are going to take their lumps while learning on the job, just like every other profession in the world but seem to be doing a good job.

  5. Wally

    If what you say is true, then “young underpaid” assistants aren’t going to push back are they? I just don’t think anyone will challenge status quo. Kotelnicki’s defense just gave up 295 yards rushing….. He may not me a ” yes man” but can he coach …

    1. Geaux_sioux

      Apparently he can man. His defense adjusted and shut down SDSU I’m the second half especially in the 4th quarter. He put his players in spots to succeed and at first they failed him. Eventually they succeeded. Simply put yes man.

    2. I guess I don’t quite get what you want for an answer. What exactly are assistants supposed to do to “push back”? What are they supposed to do differently vs. what the assistants are currently doing under Mussman?

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