The Sioux lost 23-19 on Saturday to Cal Poly on Homecoming. It was a good game to watch as a fan but the outcome wasn’t what Sioux fans wanted. Both teams were pretty evenly matched but Cal Poly was the team that came up with the big plays and left Grand Forks with the win and a 2-0 record in GWC play.
- Sioux QB Joey Bradley had an awful day. There is no other way to say it. He was pulled late in the 2nd quarter after going 4-17 for 65 yards and 2 INT’s. 3 of his completions were bubble screens meaning he only completed one downfield pass, a 26 yarder to RJ McGill. From the first snap of the game, he seemed to really be off on Saturday as there were multiple throws that weren’t even close to the receiver. The first was on the flea-flicker, which he had Hardin open on the post route and threw a wobbly underthrown pass. The biggest may have been on the second series of the game when the Sioux had first and goal at the one yard line and Bradley threw it high and wide of Seth Nichols, who was dragging across the back of the end zone wide open. Great play call but poor execution. The Sioux had to settle for a field goal.
- QB Brent Goska came in during the second quarter and gave a gutty performance. He ended the day 13-24 for 206 yards and 1 TD, a nice 21 yard screen pass to Jake Miller. He led the Sioux back from a 23-9 deficit to get them within four at 23-19 but could not finish off the last drive. Goska also ran 5 times for 42 yards.
- The scenario that all Sioux fans dreaded last season when Jake Landry got hurt is back again. They have a QB controversy and not in a good way.
- The offensive line had a pretty good day. The pass protection was absolutely outstanding all day against a very good Cal Poly defensive line. Cal Poly did not record a sack on 41 Sioux pass attempts.
- UND had 148 yards rushing on 35 carries. Slightly below their average but not terrible considering how bad the passing game was early.
- UND outgained Poly 419-384 in total yards.
- Poly won the turnover battle by forcing three and only losing one.
- The Poly offense had a different game plan than most expected. The tried the usual triple option early and didn’t have much success so they turned to more of the shotgun-zone read game to throw out of and also mixed in what appeared to be a wish-bone look. They ran down the line option out of it and got there biggest ground gainers from it. It was a nice wrinkle by the Poly offensive staff.
- Poly ended the day with 222 yards on 52 carries. However, it was the passing game that hurt the Sioux. The long TD in the second quarter to FB Jake Romanelli was a killer. He shot right up the middle of the field after faking the dive and the Sioux did not have anybody in coverage. QB Andre Broadus found him wide open and he coasted in for a 38 yard TD.
- The Sioux held Cal Poly to 3-13 on third down. The Sioux were 5-16 themselves.
- There were multiple other long throws that could have been converted but were either dropped or just out of reach. The Sioux secondary did not have one of their better games. We cannot understand how the corners could be beat so often against this offense. Very disappointing game from the secondary in pass coverage. They need to execute better.
- Kicker Zeb Miller had another outstanding day. He was 4-4 on field goals bring his season numbers to 10-10. His FG’s were 18, 28, 48, 30.
- Greg Hardin had a nice day with 9 catches for 108 yards. We like how they used many different formations and pass plays to get Hardin the ball. However, his drop on the last series of the game at the 20 yard line was one of the bigger plays in this game. Brent Goska threaded it in between the safeties/LB’s but Hardin couldn’t hold on. Big-time players like Hardin need to make that play.
- RJ McGill also had a nice day with 4 catches for 89 yards. He is proving to be an intermediate threat in this short, crossing-routes type of offense. He also is becoming a complete WR with his blocking on the perimeter. For only being 5’9″, he does really well blocking.
This was a winnable game for the Sioux and they didn’t make the plays when needed. They had multiple chances in the first half to convert on 3rd downs, touchdowns, etc. but didn’t. That led to Poly slowly creeping back into the game then eventually taking the lead. The coaching did a nice job preparing these guys as we liked the game plan on both sides of the ball. The Sioux came out passing to try and loosen up the Poly D and there were receivers open the entire first half but the QB couldn’t get it to them.
The cheap 3 points that Poly got on the FG right before halftime ended up being huge. Had UND not given that up so easily, they could have gone for a 2 point conversion after the last touchdown in the 4th quarter to try and tie the game. They then would have had a chance to win it with a FG on the last drive. Changed the game dramatically.