What a game that was! After the early season road woes UND fans were naturally nervous as heck about this past weekend’s matchup with #3 Weber State.
Apparently, the Hawks themselves weren’t quite as nervous. They controlled play for a good part of the game but came up short at the end losing 30-27. The loss drops the Hawks to 5-4 on the season. Weber State improved to 8-2.
Anyone who actually watched the game saw two evenly matched teams that battled for 60 minutes with the game finally decided in the 59th. Just a fun game to watch and as much as we wish it would’ve turned out differently, we are pleased with the progress UND has made this season.
The UND offense played perhaps their best overall game of the season. They just looked good – that’s the best compliment I can give. On the day they finished with 389 yards of offense on only 63 plays. That’s 6.3 yards per play vs. an outstanding Wildcat defense.
Danny Freund had a nice game plan in this one. Get the ball out fairly quick to his bigger WR’s and let them work vs. the youthful secondary of Weber State.
Let’s get this out of the way right now – UND is not in the position they are without the play of The Brockstar – Brock Boltmann. Hell, they named a formation after him – that’s how valuable he has been. Boltmann muffed the kickoff return and yes it seemed egregious at the time – but mistakes happen and I am sure nobody feels worse than him. Boltmann is a star on this offense and will continue to make big plays that will more than make up for a fumbled kickoff return.
QB Nate Ketteringham had an outstanding day and played high-level football. We have been tough on Kett at times but he was in control of the offense most of the day and made some impressive throws to his veteran receiving corps. Kett ended the day 23-38 for 304 yards and 3 TD’s vs 0 INT’s. Like we said, very impressive day from Mr. Ketteringham.
Speaking of the veteran receivers – those guys absolutely worked over the Weber secondary all day. Noah Wanzek put in a monster effort with 7 catches for 140 yards and 1 TD. Fellow senior Travis Toivonen caught 6 passes for 81 yards and 2 TD’s. 6’5″ sophomore Garett Maag added 8 catches for 55 yards, including a couple nice chain-movers. Add that up and its 21 receptions for 276 yards and 3 TD’s for the Three Trees.
The offensive PI call on Maag was questionable at best and took a touchdown off the board. Weber is a ‘handsy’ secondary so there was hand fighting going on all game. The ref threw the flag AFTER Maag had already caught the ball and run was running in. Poor refereeing on that play.
The offensive line is a beat up unit that is gutting out every game at this point. The effort they put in vs. that monstrous Weber State defensive line was pretty damn impressive. Weber sacked Ketteringham ZERO times on 38 attempts and honestly he wasn’t hurried a whole heck of a lot either. One guy in particular, Nate Nguon, is a hobbled young man who looks like he is in pain most of the game but somehow stays out there. Tough dudes on that unit.
We liked the little run wrinkles that were thrown in for freshman Luke Skokna, in particular. They ran a quick toss that was able to get around the end several times and pick up nice gains. Running between the tackles was going to be tough in this one so adjustments needed to be made.
The UND defense gave up alot of yards (453) but was pretty stout after drives #2 & 3 when they gave up 14 points. Twice the Hawks bowed up in deep in their own territory, coming up with interceptions. The first one by Donnell Rodgers was a beautiful read by the senior ILB, making a full extended grab that was actually pretty impressive. Safety Hayden Galvin stepped in front of a slant on the goal line to stop another drive.
Rodgers is having an all-conference type of year for UND. He is everywhere now, every game, every play. Rodgers was a solid ILB last season but this season he is bordering on dominant. He ended the game with 9 tackles and 1 INT.
UND was missing Mason Bennett, Jaxson Turner, and Ray Haas for this game. All three will be back in the next few weeks and that bodes well for the Hawks defense. Andre Steiger and Jade Lawrence had to play most of the game at OLB due to Turner and Haas being out. Bryden Swenson got some PT in their place, as well.
Really wish UND would’ve defended that flea-flicker TD pass alot better. They had two guys there and it was basically a 50/50 hail mary ball. Need to make a play on that. Teams are only going to run 1-2 trick plays a game, if that. If you defend it they are done and it becomes a bit demoralizing.
The play that really swung the momentum was the fake punt call with UND down 20-14 in the 2nd quarter. UND had seen something on tape where Weber would vacate quickly to setup a return and decided to act on it. It was a great call by Bubba and very well executed the up front guys and punter Cade Peterson, as well. I am going to go deeper into this play on the Pregame Show because there are some nuances that helped pull it off.
Hawks are sitting at 5-4 and about where we all thought they would be at this point. To repeat for anyone who doesn’t already know – they need to get to 7-4 to make the playoffs.
This week they take on Northern Colorado (2-8) at the Alerus Center – 1pm kickoff. The Bears are struggling again this season but do have some pieces that make you pause before predicting a big win. QB Jake Knipp is a big kid with a live arm. Thrown for 2,200 yards and 11 TD’s this year. UND needs to win and win pretty. Time to regain some voters and get the narrative in their favor.
Note: Earnest Collins (UNC Head Coach) is 1-7 all-time vs. UND.
How pollsters vote is confusing at times. Last week, according to Brian McLaughlin (who is a good guy) UND was the #16 team in the country. This week after losing to #3 Weber State on the road via last second field goal, they are now not worthy of a Top 25 ranking.
That makes no sense at all. Especially when you consider he only dropped Sac State three spots for getting six different kinds of dogsh*t kicked out of them by Weber State the week before – at HOME.
We realize UND doesn’t have the national “relevance” and clout of the Sac State football program but this one is absurd. If any team has earned the right to hang around way too high in the polls it’s definitely the Hornets.
The really stupid thing is after UND beats Northern Colorado this week they will be right back in many polls like this. For what – beating a 2-8 team that sucks every year? Project a little bit and be ahead of the damn curve on these things. Montana State just beat UNC (2-8) and SUU (2-8) back to back and now they are suddenly Top 10 material. Sigh.
UND doesn’t need to be in the Top 10. But they sure as hell didn’t need to be completely dropped out of a poll. And yes, polls matter when it comes to teams fighting for bubble spots.
Photo courtesy of Weber State Athletics.