The Game Vitals
Opponent – Drake Bulldogs @ Alerus Center, Grand Forks, ND
Game Notes – UND Drake
TV – Midco Sports Network / Fox College Sports Pacific
Online Streaming – UNDSports.com
Spread – North Dakota – 18.5. Total = 41
— Offense = Spread – Pistol/Shotgun. 3-4 WR’s.
— Defense = 4-3
UND last played Drake in 2011, an underwhelming 16-0 win at the Alerus Center in which the offense struggled to move the ball. From what we remember, the Drake squad was very tough up front and made things difficult for UND all day. Times change and coaches change but this Drake team seems to be very similar.
Offensively, Drake will run out of the pistol in multiple receiver sets. They are a typical spread team in that they run zone with the 1 RB, while throwing a bunch of short stuff to the wide receivers. We fully expect them to go sideways against UND this week vs. trying to run up the middle.
The offense is led by QB #15 Andy Rice. He is a three year starter and very seasoned, much like the rest of their starters. Rice threw for 286 yards last week vs. William Jewell. Last season he threw for 2,286 yards and 11 TD’s. Rice is a threat in the running game as well. In 2014, he ran for 151 yards and 5 TD’s. He makes the offense go and should be the focus of the UND defense this week.
Last week against Wyoming, the UND defense played conservatively with their playcalling and blitzed very little. We expect that to change this week and that UND will challenge their own secondary by calling more blitzes and playing more man coverage, specifically on 3rd down.
The UND defense got their hands on plenty of balls last week, but failed to convert any of them into interceptions. We’d like to see them finish those plays week and pick off some passes and create turnovers.
The Drake defense is a standard 4-3 alignment. They run a fairly simple defense, somewhat similar to what Wyoming ran in their fronts. Drake starts 10 seniors on defense so they are going to be a seasoned group who shouldn’t get tripped up by motions or formations.
Last season Drake only gave up 21 pts/game and 124 yards rushing per game. Those are solid stats and show how fundamentally sound they are on defense. They are not nearly as talented as Wyoming but certainly make up for with alignment and gap integrity.
ILB #42 John Hugunin and ILB #44 Taylor Coleman are the leaders of the Bulldog defense. They were the top two tacklers on last year’s 7-4 team and will undoubtedly lead them again this year. UND must account for both of these two in the running game as they are very active linebackers.
North Dakota Keys to the Game
- Drop the plow. The UND offensive line needs to pick up where they left off last week and mow over the Drake defensive line. Establishing the run immediately will set the tone for the rest of the game and things will fall into place, once again.
- Absolutely no turnovers. UND did not turn the ball over last week and it led to a clean, crisp win vs. Wyoming. Stay crisp, stay efficient and take care of business at home.
- Defense: Force a turnover. One of the downsides in last weeks win was that the UND defense did not force a turnover. OLB Jake Disterhaupt and CB Deion Harris both dropped easy interceptions, which happens early in the season. This week they need to change that turnover margin stat to the plus side.
- Get the punt return game going. UND could not any kind of a return going vs. Wyoming last week. Returner Josh Seibel had 4 punt returns for 3 yards. If things go according to plan Drake is going to be punting a lot. Get that return game fired up and help out the offense.
How will UND respond to last week’s first ever FBS victory over Wyoming? That is the real question when it comes to this game against an undermanned team in the Drake Bulldogs. Drake is a solid team all around, play fundamental football and are a veteran, experienced team, but are still non-scholarship at the end of the day. If UND plays with the desire they played with last weekend (this will be the challenge), they should win this game by a comfortable margin. If not, the Bulldogs and all their seniors will make things very uncomfortable for the Alerus Center crowd.
North Dakota 34