The 17 UND seniors got a victory in their last home game at The Alerus Center on Saturday. UND beat Northern Colorado 24-21 in a tight Big Sky Conference tilt.
First, to the notable stats:
- 1st downs: UND 22 UNC 17
- Rushing yards (net): UND 4 UNC 105
- Passing Yards: UND 344 UNC 289
- Time of possession: UND 34:18 UNC 25:42
UND was even in the turnover battle, 2 to 2. However, we feel they lost the special teams battle with the big return on the blocked FG that set up a score.
23 carries for a net of 4 yards is absolutely unacceptable. This is all about execution and the o-line continues to lack it in the running game. How a team can run for four yards but control the T.O.P. by 9 minutes is unbelievable.
Offensive coordinator Luke Schleusner had the perfect play call in the 4th quarter on 3rd and 12 from the UNC 20 yard line when he caught the UNC defense in a blitz with a slip screen to RB Adam Shaugabay. It was well executed and looked like a TD until Kenny Golladay couldn’t hold his block on the UNC corner and then center Shea Walker missed him as well. The cornerback made the TD saving tackle and UND had to bring on the FG team. It was essentially a 2 on 1 with nobody else standing between Shaugabay and the end zone. Both Golladay and Walker need to execute that play better. It was the difference between and FG and a TD.
While Golladay didn’t execute his assignment on that particular play, we want to take notice and point out that his overall effort every play and every game is undeniably the best on the team from our point of view. He gives his all every time he is called on to block downfield. Even on the plays he doesn’t execute, the effort is almost always 100%. That is the way it should be and other players on the team should take note on his effort and work ethic.
Speaking of Adam Shauagabay: he was critical in the pass protection on the Bartels to Golladay TD pass when he stepped up and solidly picked up the edge blitzer to give Bartels the requisite time to make the play-action throw down the sideline for the 31 yard TD pass. He stayed on his feet and sustained the block and didn’t have to try cut the defender down. A nice change of pace from our RB protection.
PJ Sparks made a cameo when he entered the game for what would be his only carry of the day on a 3rd and 1. UND ran power and pulling guard Sean Meehan missed his block on the UNC linebacker and Sparks was stuffed for no gain and UND was forced to punt. Once again, have to execute that play better.
Bartels finished 31-47 for 344 yds, 2 tds, 2 ints. His throws on the last TD and 2 point conversion were perfect and were put in spots where they absolutely needed to in order to be completed – very tight windows. However, he badly overthrew Hardin on a fade route in which he had the safety beat for a TD and he badly underthrew a ball when Hardin had the safety beat as well. Both fell for incompletions instead of big, game-breaking and momentum-turning TDs. Have to take the good with the bad when you have freshman QBs.
Bartels was also the victim of 2 tipped balls by UND WRs that should have been caught. Blair Townsend had a ball go off his chest and into the UND defenders arms over the middle. That ball needs to be caught. Kenny Golladay’s tipped ball was a little more difficult, but given his talent, skill set, and resume of great catches, he needs to catch that one too. We felt that if he laid out for it, he catches the ball. Instead, once again, an interception over the middle for the UNC safety. On top of that, we counted at least 3 other drops – two by Greg Hardin and one by Jameer Jackson. Bartels also had another throw over the middle that he tried to force to Kenny Golladay that should have been intercepted that was just a bad decision and throw from the start.
In Bartels’ last 2 games, he is 70-106 (66%) for 6 TDs and 4 ints. He still continues to create pressure by moving around unnecessarily and leaving the pocket when he doesn’t have to, but he will learn that with experience. We also see a tendency from him of not stepping into and following through on his throws – he has a lot of back foot in his delivery and sometimes doesn’t transfer his weight properly. That will need to be fixed as well.
In the 1st quarter, the UND defense gave up a 1st down on a 3rd and 26 when UNC ran a RB slip screen that gained 34 yards. The thing is UND only brought four guys and dropped seven. Once the RB got to about 15 yards downfield the effort by the UND defenders was non-existent, they simply didn’t tackle him. They could have easily made the tackle for a 15-20 yard gain and made UNC kick a FG. Instead, the Bears would take advantage and finish the drive with their 1st TD of the day. An absolute back-breaker for a defense.
We applaud UND’s aggressiveness in trying to bring a corner blitz but the corner can’t tip it off 3 seconds early, to where the QB can check to the uncovered receiver and the line can shift the protection. Little things.
“The Condor”, OLB Dom Bennett, made the play of the game defensively late in the fourth quarter when he stripped RB Tromaine Dennis in the backfield, allowing fellow senior DE Seth Stanchik to recover and setup the UND offense for the eventual game winning TD. Without that play, UND more than likely loses the game.
Senior Will Lewis has really came on after the early-season injury and fittingly ended the game with a nice interception. He has had a nice career for UND.
It was nice to see senior Garrison Goodman and Ben Peters leading the team in tackles this week. That is how it is supposed to work in the 3-4 scheme. Goodman finished with 10 solo’s and Peters had 6 solo’s.
In what could have been a back-breaker, UND corner Daryl Brown completely whiffed on a quick, 5 yard out route by WR Will Jefferson and Jefferson turned it into a 35 yard TD, his second in about two minutes of play. That put UND down 21-6 early in the third quarter. That kind of effort is what kills a defense – Brown played it right by reacting up to make the tackle for a 5 yard gain but gave a feeble flail at the receiver and somehow allowed him to run down the sideline untouched. At the very least, turn the receiver into the middle of the field to allow your teammates to tackle him.
It was nice to see UND comeback from being down 21-6 in a game that essentially meant nothing in the standings but damn near everything to the seniors on the this team. In a lost season, we were very pleased to witness the extra effort/passion in the fourth quarter.
We were wrong about the holding call we mentioned in this spot on our post – it was an illegal man downfield and was arguably a decent call. Kleason was right at the line when the ball left Bartels hand, but heading downfield.