The UND faithful left the Alerus Center with a familiar feeling on Saturday. We have longed for the days of blowing out inferior opponents and we got just that vs. Drake.
Even though the Hawks offense got off to a less than ideal start in the first half (12 points), the defense played lights out by shutting out the Bulldogs and allowed their counterparts on the other side of the ball time to adjust – and adjust they did.
OC Danny Freund came out with a few new wrinkles in the second half which jump started the entire building and gassed UND to a quick 26-0 lead only six minutes into the 3rd quarter. They never looked back, winning 47-7.
— UND Insider (@UNDinsider) September 1, 2019
QB Nate Ketteringham began the game 19-25 for 152 yards and 1 TD before suffering a knee injury in the third quarter. Ketteringham had ice on his right knee and eventually a brace. It did not look good and he was visibly upset, which tells us he felt something. Let’s all hope for the best for Nate and hopefully we see him back on the field in short order.
Fellow senior Andrew Zimmerman came into the game and really didn’t miss a beat – going 7-9 for 132 yards and 2 TD’s. His very first play of the game was a 19 yard completion to Travis Toivonen, who had another nice game 3 catches for 65 yards and 1 TD. It looks like Zimmerman may be the guy the next few weeks if Ketteringham is out. We will probably see less QB runs now that depth is being tapped into.
Look for Brock Boltmann to move back to QB for awhile to assure they have quality depth that knows the playbook. He probably could keep doing some receiver but he gets hurt they are down to three total QB’s on the roster with junior Noah Grover and true freshman Tommy Schuster rounding it out.
We love the diversity in the new offense. It started out with some Bob Stitt-style fly sweeps and included a variety of short flare screens, some RPO game that never seemed to connect, however, and some inside zone running stuff.
UND amassed 431 yards of total offense with 136 of it via the ground game.
Time of possession was nearly even at 30:41 to 29:19.
Speaking of the RPO game – there were several times where the QB pulled it and threw the seam route when the run play was there. It will take time to get the feel for it since it’s so new.
The RB by committee thing actually worked well. James Johannesson, Cam McKinney, Austin Gordon and Dalton Gee all played extensively and all showed flashes. Gee, Gordon and McKinney also combined for seven receptions.
We absolutely loved that Freund ran a reverse flea-flicker for a 35 yard TD to Toivonen when they were up 33-7 in the third quarter. It shows a new mentality that the Hawks are going to try to keep scoring until the game is actually out of hand. Here is a video of that play:
The UND defense was active and aggressive all day, which is what they do best. They ended the day with 9 TFL’s and 4 sacks. Conversely, Drake only had 1 TFL and 0 sacks.
Drake only had 48 yards at halftime.
The defensive line had a pretty nice game considering they were the question mark coming into the season. The kingpin Mason Bennett played very well and ended with 1.5 sacks and 1.5 TFL’s. Converted tight end Graham Devore also we noticeable shooting into the backfield on many occasions and ending the day with 6 tackles and 2 TFL’s.
Jordan Canady got a nice interception on a high crossing route that jump started the blowout in the second half.
Was cool to see true freshman Caleb Nelson get in the game at the same time as his brother, Lenny. Both are members of the UND secondary.
UND also played true freshman Sammy Fort, Elijah Beach, and Isaac Moore.
Kicker Brady Leach hit a 37 yard field goal, which was good to see. His kickoffs were still a bit short, though, landing around the 5-10 yard line. Freshman Brady Stevens took over and in the second half he landed a kick at the one yard line, then boomed the next one into the end zone for a touchback, which is ideal. However, he shanked the following kickoff out of bounds. Mixed bag but Stevens did have better distance.
UND only got to third down on offense 9 times in the game. That is pretty impressive efficiency on first and second down. They ended the game 4-9 on third down conversions.
The Hawks started the season the way they wanted to. Manhandling inferior opponents is the way it should go and that’s what we got. Now we’re onto a different animal.
UND heads down to the Fargodome to take on #1 ranked NDSU this week. The Bison beat pioneer league foe Butler 57-10 last week. It should be a fun week for all the fans!
Let’s all be on on semi-best behavior and enjoy the rivalry because it’s coming back full-time from this week on.