Seventeen seniors will play their final home game this week at The Alerus when the 1-8 University of Northern Colorado Bears come back to Grand Forks for the first time since since 2001 when both teams were still Division II and UND was making its run to a National Championship. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:05 pm CST and the game will be televised on Midco Sports Network 3.
UND Defense vs. UNC Offense
The UNC offense is similar to last week’s opponent (NAU) in scheme and formations. The QB is under center as much as he is in the ‘Gun’ and they like to employ two back sets, along with a TE or possibly two TE’s. A prototypical “Pro-Style” offense.
On the year UNC is averaging a meager 22 pts/game on offense. They average 378 yds per game, with 297 of that coming through the air. They appear to have troubles getting in the end zone, with the 16 turnovers on the year not helping.
The offense is led by QB Seth Lobato. The 6’6″, 223lb senior has had a decent senior season, throwing for 2,026 yds and 12 TD’s vs. 6 INT’s. He is hitting at a 57% clip. Lobato shows pretty good arm strength and decent mobility for a big man. As we stated above, Lobato operates under center as well as in the ‘Gun’.
Lobato’s favorite receiver in the passing game is #3 Dimitri Stimphil. Stimphil, 5’10”, has 54 catches for 847 yds and 5 TD’s. He will be their home run hitter on Saturday and the UND secondary will be tested continuously by Stimphil and his receiving partner, #25 Jace Davis. Davis, 6’2″, has had a very good year also with 44 catches for 673 yds and 5 TD’s.
The man who will probably be the busiest on Saturday is running back #31 Tromaine Dennis. On the year Dennis has 569 yds and 6 TD’s. At 5’11”-217, Dennis is a load to bring down. We foresee the Bears handing the ball off to Dennis quite frequently this weekend.
As we stated, our guess is the Bears try to pound the ball at UND all game and control the pace. UND reverted back to form last week and could not stop the NAU running game at all. With football being a copy cat game, we believe that UNC will try execute the same gameplan. Even though they only average 81 yds/game on the ground, they still will have a shot to get the ground game going against UND, being they give up 198 yds/game.
UND Offense vs UNC Defense
UND will face a Northern Colorado defense that gives up 414 total yards/game, with 296 of that coming through the air. They are allowing 31.7 points per game. The Bears defense is led by senior middle linebacker #56 Clarence Bumpas (80 tackles, 3.5 TFL, 1.5 sacks) and junior strongside linebacker #40 Max Flores (69 tackles, 7 TFL, 2.5 sacks).
This 40 front defense is linebacker dominated as all 3 starting linebackers lead the team in tackles. Predominantly, UNC likes to play a lot of 2-high coverages with cover 2 and cover 4 looks, but they will also roll down a safety and play some cover 3 zone against ‘3 by 1’ sets and will show cover 1 in blitzing situations.
Injuries are a concern this week with the status of senior offensive lineman Joe Kleason and senior running back Jake Miller both up in the air. Kleason left the game in the 4th quarter in Flagstaff for reasons we do not know. Not having Kleason at center this week after the o-line play improved at NAU will definitely hurt. If Kleason cant go, experienced Shea Walker will have to step in and play again at center. We expect to see more of Jer Garman, Adam Shaugabay and dare we say, PJ Sparks? (GASP)
Ryan Bartels will no doubt start the game this week, as he should. He needs to clean up the turnovers and interceptions this week and build off his performance from last week, which was a solid effort for the freshman from Sycamore, IL. If he continues to make the proper reads and throw the ball on time, he will be effective once again this week in the passing game. He just needs to get the ball to his playmakers and let them get upfield after the catch. We look for big things for Greg Hardin this week as the senior from Nebraska plays for the final time at home. We think UND will try to do a better job this week controlling the clock with the running game, assuming that they dont fall behind early like they did last week at Northern Arizona where the running game was thrown out the window. This team cannot be throwing the ball 50-60 times every game.
It’s North Dakota deer hunting opener – a statewide rite of passage and holiday – and UND currently sits at 2-7. This is not a good recipe to have the stands full on Saturday at The Alerus Center. These 17 seniors and the underclassmen are going to have to create their own excitement and atmosphere and do so with a lot of pride. Special teams could be the difference maker this week. This game comes down to a field goal at the end……for the good guys.