The Game Vitals
Game Time – 1:00 pm. Alerus Center.
Opponent -Weber State Wildcats
Game Notes – UND
TV – Midco Sports Network 2
Radio – UND Radio Network
Online Streaming – WatchBigSky
Spread – UND -9. Total = 51.5
Weber State (5-2) Breakdown
— Offense = Spread
— Defense = 4-3
Offensively – We’re just going to be honest with you this week. The Weber State offense scares us a bit. They are good.
The Wildcats are capable of moving the ball effectively both through the air and on the ground. Their offense operates primarily out of 11 and 12 personnel but will also run some 2-back stuff. The offensive line is solid and they have a diverse running game compared to what we have seen recently this season. They will snap the ball out of the gun and under center and will run power, QB power, inside zone, outside zone, zone read, and a variety of ‘G-scheme’ looks. Pre-snap ‘flipping’ and ‘flopping’ (TEs) of formations and regular motions will be the norm – very similar to UND offenses of the past and present.
On the season, WSU averages 29 points and 406 yards offense per game. They get about 250/game through the air and 156/game on the ground.
At the skill positions, Weber is talented. QB #10 Jadrian Clark is a big, physical 6′-3″-225 pound dual threat. The senior is throwing at a 62% completion rate and has 1743 yards and 14 TDs so far this season. He’s thrown 8 interceptions.
RB #26 Treshawn Garrett is the leading rusher with 451 yards and 3 TDs but they aren’t afraid to play 3 different running backs during the game, all of which are more than capable.
WR#1 Cam Livingston leads the team in receptions with 33 for 351 yards and 3 TDs. However, TE#87 Andrew Vollert has 32 catches for 449 yards and 4 TDs. This matchup against the UND defense could be the biggest one of the game on Saturday. Vollert, a junior, is 6′-5″-245 pounds and runs very well for his size. In our eyes, this is a huge concern. It will be interesting to see how this develops and how UND defends him.
Overall, Weber State’s offense appears to be the biggest challenge to date this season for the UND Defense and coordinator Eric Schmidt.
Defensively – The Weber State defense works out of a 4-3 base. They will, however, morph into a 3-4 at times based on the opponent’s formation. Unlike UND’s last few opponents, the Wildcats are very aggressive in their pressure packages and like to bring their linebackers on blitzes. Weber likes to man-up their corners, which is good for UND as it takes them out of run support.
Weber is allowing 30 pts/game, which is 7th in the Big Sky. They are allowing 405 yds/game (5th in Big Sky), with 218 of those coming via the ground (10th in Big Sky). Those rushing numbers are skewed a bit by the fact that Utah State and South Dakota combined for over 700+ yards vs. the Wildcats. They have been better lately. Weber is ranked #1 in the Big Sky when it comes to pass defense, only allowing 187 yds/game.
The standout on the Wildcat defense is OLB #23 Tre’von Johnson. At 6’1-235, Johnson is a brute force out there and combines that strength with impressive speed. Johnson leads Weber with 6.5 TFL’s and 1.5 sacks to go along with 56 tackles.
Weber ‘s secondary is led by CB #21 Taron Johnson. The junior has 7 pass breakups and 3 TFL’s on the year and appears to be their best coverage corner.
The pressure that the Wildcats bring has produced 43 TFL’s on the year. This tells us they will definitely be in the backfield at times this weekend but will leave them vulnerable if John Santiago or Brady Oliveira slip through that pressure.
Weber has had a bit of trouble getting off the field on third down. They are allowing teams to convert at a 42% clip, which is 11th in the Big Sky.
North Dakota (6-2) Keys to Win The Game
- Special teams. Time to take over this phase of the game and dominate in a game like this. It could be the difference. Weber State is 4-11 on FGs this year.
- Contain TE #87 Andrew Vollert. Whether that is a bracket system on the outside or matching Cole Reyes up with him, something needs to be done. He is the Wildcats version of “Gronk”.
- Get loose on the edges. Weber has been beat off the edge by opposing running backs many times year. This game could a combination of Oliveira up the middle and Santiago off the edge.
- Defend the deep ball. Weber and QB Jadrian Clark like to throw posts and fades to their bigger WR/TE’s. If UND can have success in defending those it will go along way to securing a victory.
- Defend the run. As always, we expect UND to be able to keep the opposing ground game under control. But, this week it will allow UND to worry more about the Wildcat passing game. The UND safeties can sit back and defend the big play ability of WSU without having to walk up to help vs. the run.
UND had their “letdown” game last week and survived. The team was lethargic and fairly uninspired out in Pocatello, by all accounts. This week is completely different.
This very well could be the toughest game UND plays to date. Reason we say that is styles and matchups. Weber State can put up points. They can stop the run. They can hit big plays down the field and will actually try to hit them with some frequency, unlike other teams.
UND knows what it takes to make the FCS playoffs. This game would go a long way to them garnering a quality win vs. a team with a winning record. Plus it would put them 6-0 in the Big Sky.