The UND Football team went on the road Saturday and lost to Missouri State 38-0. The Bears are a good football team and will win some games this year but to get shutout by them certainly raises our level of concern. We knew there would be growing pains after the coaching change but early on it appears their growth has been stunted.
There were a few glaring issues that either popped up or re-surfaced in this game that need to be addressed:
- UND had two special teams penalties in the game. Both of them were kick return interference on an MSU punt return. That should not happen more than once a year, if that, let alone twice in one game. This can be fixed.
- Senior Baylee Carr appeared to have blown the coverage on the long TD pass to WR Willis Chambers. Chambers ran down the sideline untouched and the safety never came overtop of him. On the other long TD, the WR just ran by corner Alex Tillman. Tillman was looking into the backfield way too long and lost track of the receiver.
- Tillman cannot keep pinning his own offense inside the two yard line by making bad decisions on punt returns. At SJSU, he decided not to field a punt at the 15 and it rolled to the 1 yard line. On Saturday, he caught a punt on the 3 yard line and was tackled at the 2. With the way the UND offense is playing, these kind of decisions absolutely cannot happen.
- We are wondering what the next move is for the UND offensive staff. QB Joe Mollberg is not getting it done early on in the season. OC Paul Rudolph pulled Mollberg in the fourth quarter on Saturday in favor of fellow sophomore Ryan Bartels. Both played last season and nobody wants to see that happen again this year. If neither of them can get anything done, what does Rudolph do? Tough spot to be in.
- The defense needs to continue to shore up their point of attack fundamentals. The OLB’s are continually getting kicked out on the ends, creating a huge hole off the offensive tackle’s outside hip (C gap). The interior defensive line is doing a nice job, actually. The opponent’s running games are shifting to outside run’s vs. UND because of their inability to hold the line on the outside edges. The outside zone running play is killing UND right now.
I have seen a comparison to UND’s situation that seem to make sense. South Dakota went 1-10 in Joe Glenn’s first season at USD. Glenn instituted his defense, his offense and his way of running a team. There were growing pains and blowout losses but he stuck with it because he knew his way of coaching works.
This is what we are witnessing at UND. They are going to run their offense the way it is meant to be run. Will they throw in a few wrinkles, like 4 wide receivers? Yes. Everyone does that but the base package will stay with a fullback, tight end, and two wide receivers.
What we want to see is improvement. We have not seen it yet but there is also nine games left in the season. Eliminating the mistakes we bulleted above will go along way to showing improvement on the field. This offense is not going to score 30 pts/game in 2014. But they can continue to run the ball and hope their RB’s improve to the point they can get through those holes quicker, along with seeing the hole when it opens. It’s not always the playside that opens up.
We would welcome any comments on what you have seen thus far or what you want to see in the future. Obviously, we did not cover everything that is going on.