Idaho State Post-Game Thoughts

UND went out to Pocatello, ID and did what they needed to do to win a football game on Saturday, beating Idaho State 28-25.  It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t clean, but they won a game they desperately needed on the road in Big Sky play.  We’ll take it and we’re sure they will also.  It was a unique game in that UND was able to do some things that they have not been able to yet this year.

  1. We wanted to see the running game build off their performance in the MSU game and they did alright.  Jake Miller rushed 17 times for 70 yds and the team ran for 140 overall.  Not great but they were able to move the ball on the ground at times.  Miller also passed the 2,000 yard mark for his career.  The senior from Bismarck High School has been a steady performer back there for UND and that is an impressive achievement for him.
  2. UND was able to re-discover their All-American WR Greg Hardin on Saturday.  After getting shutout by MSU the week before Hardin broke out on Saturday with 8 catches for 126 yds.  They got it to him in a variety of ways, which is what we hoped for.  Hardin also became the all-time regular season receiving leader in UND history with 2,978 yards, passing Weston Dressler.  Two pretty special receivers at the top of the list.
  3. Speaking of Hardin, he broke another kick return for a TD – this time a 99-yarder.  Hardin showed excellent vision and speed on the return, changing field a couple times then outrunning the defenders who had angles on him.  We challenged the kick return unit and they responded.
  4. UND had 14 penalties for 121 yards.  That is ridiculous.  Even more ridiculous is the fact that 5 of them were 15 yard personal fouls.  One a game is not uncommon, but five?
  5. Once again freshman punter Mitch Meindel showed his athleticism by taking off after scooping up a bad snap.  He could have punted it but saw open field after recovering the snap and he took off down the sideline for a 24 yard gain.  Meindel was a good wide receiver in high school.
  6. Tackling in space was much, much better this week.  Not a whole lot of YAC for ISU, which they live off of.
  7. Got to give credit where credit is due:  Corner Chavon Mackey came up with 2 pass breakups and 2 INT’s, the first two of the season for UND.  The second one was textbook coverage, intercepting the ball in the end zone and thwarting an ISU drive.  Mackey was moved to corner for this game because freshman Cam Kuksa was inserted into the starting lineup at free safety.  Looks like a great move by DC Kotelnicki.
  8. Speaking of Kuksa – he had a great game, in our opinion.  The kid is an assassin out there, trying to hit anything that moves.  He got a 15 yard penalty for a late hit across the middle but in all honestly we loved it.  The aggressiveness he shows is a breath of fresh air, so to speak, and we can live with a penalty like that.  He also laid out a receiver along the sideline to break up a fade route.  Kuksa is going to be a nice player and it was a great move to start him.  He will take his lumps but he is also going to hand out plenty to opposing receivers.  However, eventually he will need to learn how to play smart along with his physicality.
  9. The clear-cut defensive player of the game in our eyes was OLB Dayo Idowu.  He had a monster game for UND with 5 tackles (3 for loss), 1 INT (which was excellent coverage by him), a forced fumble on the option play where he batted down the pitch which led to Ben Peters recovering in the end zone for a TD (UND’s first defensive TD this year) and a pass breakup.  Idowu is starting to show football smarts and instincts to go with his athleticism.  He came in as a safety prospect and it looks like he is finally settling in and getting comfortable at the OLB spot.  UND needs guys like Idowu to step up and take over games.  They don’t win the game without his effort on Saturday (to be fair, Fritz called Idowu his “breakout player” on defense this year).
  10. OLB Dom Bennett caused problems off the edge with his speed rush and was constantly in the backfield against an underwhelming ISU o-line.  Specifically, the right tackle for ISU had difficulties with the speed rush.  Bennett had a good game.
  11. ISU ran 87 plays to UND’s 63.  The defense absolutely has to get off the field at a better rate.  In their defense, ISU threw the ball 66 times making the game last longer.
  12. First Downs:  ISU 27  UND 17.  That is unacceptable.  UND should have been able to do more on offense, much more.
  13. UND won the turnover battle 4-3.  They had 3 intereceptions and a fumble recovery.
  14. QB Joe Mollberg’s 2 interceptions were deplorable – but were freshman mistakes that are/were correctable.
  15. Perspective:  This is a game that was much closer than we expected it to be.  It’s a win, but UND needs to play better against a team like Idaho State and take control of the game.  Reality sets back in this week when offensive juggernaut #6 Eastern Washington comes to town for the first time.  As everyone knows, earlier this year they went to Corvallis, Oregon and handed Pac-12 member Oregon State their only loss of the season thus far.

We welcome any comments on the game, our thoughts, anything.  Would love to hear where you guys are at with this win.

8 Responses

  1. geaux_sioux

    There were some signs of life against a very poor opponent. Jer actually got some carries which was nice but I’d like to see a RB that weighs more than 190 to tote the rock from time to time.

    How did you feel about the ISU DL? There wasn’t alot of pressure for the most part and we could run the ball here and there. Was that us or them or both?

  2. cfm

    I went to the game and it almost felt like a loss. It was tough to get excited about the victory. A couple coaches walked by right after the game and one of them sarcastically said “Any road win in the big sky is a big win.” Then they both laughed. The whole day just said a lot about the state of the football program.

    It’s tough justifying future road trips to watch the team play when that is what they put on the field.

  3. UND supporter

    Nice to get a win on the road, albeit against a poor Idaho State team. With Eastern Washington looming as our next opponent, it would’ve been nice to see some improvements, but I honestly didn’t see any. Idaho State is deficient in terms of talent relative to Montana and Montana State, so I kind of think we won this game despite terrible play. That is, ISU made more mistakes than we did (how that’s possible speaks to the ineptness of ISU I guess).We didn’t take this game – which is something I would like to expect a UND team to do against lower tier conference teams. Too many turnovers (3) to consistently win, too many penalties, and too much given up defensively to a one-dimensional team through the air. If it wasn’t for the defense capitalizing on pathetic ISU ball security, UND would’ve been in trouble. I see this win as a default victory due to the talent differential, unfortunately, and I still see the EWU homecoming game as a very difficulty task for UND. Hopefully there’s improvement from the ISU to the EWU, but I’m afraid we may see a third consecutive home blowout at the hands of a conference opponent. For UND’s program, that’s simply unacceptable.

    1. We were hoping for a better performance as well. The bottom line is UND had to score a defensive TD and a special teams TD to beat Idaho State by 3 points. The offense, for all the hype they had coming in, has really underperformed this year. Everyone knew the defense was going to have its fair share of troubles but thought the offense could keep them in games. Has not happened.

      Goes to show you the difference between having two 5th year QB’s and having two 1st year QB’s. That’s as far as you need to look for answers offensively. The receivers didn’t get worse in the off season. Unfortunately, UND is going to need to take their lumps while the freshman play through a full schedule and get things figured out. A running game would sure help that process.

      1. geaux_sioux

        To be fair if you consider 5th year qbs then these guys are 2nd year qbs. And I think too much was asked of the rFR qbs to start the season. They are pretty good but in no way should they have been asked to make some of the throws they’ve been asked to make. Some game situations have dictated that but alot of the time the run game was scrapped too early in games. I feel like they are starting to adjust accordingly.

        I love the move of Kuksa to start and Hall was inept so Mackey is somehow an upgrade over there. Let’s just hope he doesn’t get full of himself and play like crap the rest of the year. The DL looked more effective with Stanchik back in the lineup. Was ISUs OL that bad in your opinion? Also why is Hensen still taking most of the reps Edwards is far better.

        1. I don’t think ISU’s OL was all that great, probably an average BS o-line. UND will see better most every week.

          They need to rotate DL to keep them fresh. I agree, Edwards should start getting 5-10 more reps each game from here on out to get him as ready for next year as possible. From everything we have seen, he is definitely holding his own and does cause some problems at times.

    2. NDSPortsFan

      The problem is currently UND is a lower tier conference team. They have a lot of building to do. I’m sure they will…but it is going to take time.

  4. UND Supporter

    Considering the young quarterback situation, I see two glaring issues: the running game and the defense. Fortunately, during the ISU game, our defense came away with some turnovers (and a defensive touchdown) which ultimately won us the game. However, against the top half of the Big Sky Conference, execution on the part of the opponents will be much better – they won’t hurt themselves. Asking these quarterbacks to throw it around all day is just asking for trouble; they should have a running game that they can rely on and only pass through opportunity (play-action passing game), not necessity. Instead, the type of offense UND must use (pass heavy) is indicative of the turnovers. Not having a defense to bail the offense out is also a problem. The defense did do that last week, but against South Dakota State, Montana, and Montana State, they weren’t capable of that. The same holds true this week against Eastern Washington – if UND makes mistakes (turnovers and penalties), the defense likely will not produce critical stops and EWU will go right down the field and stack up points. Need to improve the defense in general (starts with tackling) and the turnovers (starts with being able to run the football). For the past couple seasons, UND’s defense and running game have been an issue and it shows in the W column.

    Not sure a simple philosophy change would fix much though. Need the players to be more disciplined and physical and that’s about it in my opinion.

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