It wasn’t pretty but it was another solid win for UND.
The Hawks weren’t firing on all cylinders last night but they controlled the game from start to finish and scratched out a 21-10 victory to improve to 3-0. They are also 3-0 ATS. For some of you I am not sure which one is more important.
UND now heads on the road for the first time to take on Western Illinois next Saturday, March 13th at noon.
The Rundown – Offense
The offense had a pretty solid game despite only putting up 21 points. They amassed 489 yards of offense but the balance they achieved was the most impressive part. QB Tommy Schuster threw for 240 yards while the running back crew rushed for 249 yards. That is epic balance.
The Hawks have outscored teams 49-3 in the third quarter this season. Whatever they talk about at halftime is clearly resonating.
The offensive line was the story of the game, again. Joe Pawlak’s boys were solid again up front. Tommy Schuster was not sacked in this game, once again, for the third straight game. Pass protection by the OL and the tight ends/fullbacks/running backs has been very good.
I loved Schuster’s scramble for 14 yards on a play where OC Danny Freund dialed up a flea-flicker homerun pass. It wasn’t there and Schuster, who hadn’t scrambled yet this year, saw the deep routes were covered so he took off to the vacated left side of the field for a nice gain. Clip:
Schuster threw another interception that was fairly costly as the Hawks were moving the ball down the field nicely, as they had all game, and it cost them at least three points. The INT was similar to his first INT where he scrambled right and threw straight ahead up field and didn’t get the pass out in front of the flowing linebacker. Not the end of the world or anything but I am starting to realize that Schuster may be better in the pocket, processing the route tree vs on the run. He isn’t bad on the run but he is very good in the pocket.
RB Otis Weah was a man-child last night, running like a wild man again. Having said that he fumbled on the goal line costing UND seven points due to his fighting, twisting running style where he may lose focus on ball security. But he more than made up for it with two nice touchdown runs to open the second half.
Otis ended the day with 163 yards on 16 carries.
An overlooked run that I thought really showed what Otis can bring was a rugged, bruising run on 3rd and 2 where Otis simply got the three yards by himself. The hole was filled so he bounced it and USD had an edge defender there to meet him. But, like Otis does, he twisted fought and shook off the defender, then fought two more guys to get the three yards needed and move the chains. Clip:
UND’s third down specialist, Quincy Vaughn, came in and did his job nicely again, including his first TD pass of his career to Adam Zavalney. It was Zavalney’s first career TD, as well.
The Rundown – Defense
The Hawks played a decent game yesterday. Not great, not bad. Yes, they only allowed 10 points and USD’s only touchdown didn’t happen until the 4th quarter but there is alot to improve on. Talking to the coaches after the game it was great to hear that the players were actually a bit disappointed in their overall play – knowing they could’ve done MORE and could’ve played cleaner. That is the sign of a mature team.
USD running back Kai Henry is a load. That guy gave UND fits all day and I was happy he didn’t get the ball more. He was featured in both the running game and passing game, amassing 84 yards on ground and 31 yards on a variety of swing passes.
The Coyotes only gained 328 yards of total offense, with 129 coming on the ground. A bit more than we are used to on the ground but not a bad effort by the Hawks defense. USD got them on a counter-weak long run where UND brought strong-side pressure. Sometimes you tip your cap.
The UND front did a solid job getting pressure on freshman QB Carson Camp and knocking him around early. Camp never seemed to settle in and wasn’t able to find his deep routes, which USD was running early on. A major difference between this game and the SDSU game where Gronowski had 4-5 secs to let the long routes develop.
OLB Jaxson Turner had a great game. The senior is a guy that needs to be a playmaker out there and he is doing it well thus far. Turner added two more sacks and two TFL’s last night.
CB Evan Holm had a solid bounce back game. His tackles early on vs the short stick routes to limit the gains to 4-5 yards were key in making USD do something else. The Coyotes were going to try and throw short and make defenders miss but Holm stuck them in place multiple times.
Safety Jordan Canady made a nice interception to seal the game where he flew over from his deep third to pick it off along the sideline. Love the break he made on the ball by reading the QB. Now, it was 4th down so knocking it down would’ve saved the Hawks 30 yards of field position but the energy on that play by Canady was excellent.
Your Fighting Hawks are now 3-0 on the season and took care of business vs. three straight Top-25 teams. They now head on the road where things have been tough the past few years. If UND wants to be considered a contender they need to win their road games vs. teams they are better than. Every single one of them.
Cover photo courtesy of Eric Burton.