ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

NDSU's defense beginning to level off

FARGO -- North Dakota State allowed just one touchdown in its first three games this season and signs of a 180-degree turnaround from a year ago were easy to find. That hasn't been the case the lately.

FARGO -- North Dakota State allowed just one touchdown in its first three games this season and signs of a 180-degree turnaround from a year ago were easy to find. That hasn't been the case the lately.

Call it a 90-degree turnaround right now.

Western Illinois controlled the line of scrimmage in a 28-16 win two weeks ago. Last Saturday, Youngstown State amassed 488 yards of total offense, but that wasn't enough in a 34-29 NDSU win.

It left the Bison at 4-2 and ranked 14th in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision coaches poll. Another test against a potent offense is this Saturday when NDSU travels to Illinois State, which is averaging almost 28 points a game.

"I think teams are doing a good job of preparing for us," said NDSU safety Daniel Eaves. "We've been preparing for them really well but they've been doing some things that have been really difficult for us. This is a new week."

ADVERTISEMENT

Two facts have hurt the Bison the last two weeks, said defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton. One, the turnover ratio, once heavily in NDSU's favor, has leveled off. The Bison have not had an interception since picking off two against South Dakota three weeks ago.

Two, Western Illinois was 7 of 13 and Youngstown 11 of 16 on third down conversions. The Bison are last in the Missouri Valley Football Conference in that statistic.

"The third down efficiency is what we really need to work on this week for sure," Hazelton said.

The Bison will be working on it with a banged up linebacker crew. Starter Matt Anderson has an unspecified upper back/neck injury that had him at the doctor on Tuesday. He's questionable for Saturday.

Hazelton said it's unrelated to the ailment that caused Anderson to miss most of last season.

Top backup Chad Willson broke his thumb in the first quarter against Youngstown and he said Tuesday that he'll play with a cast.

"I didn't know I broke it until yesterday," he said. "I'll get a cast and I'll be good to go. I should be all right."

Hazelton said freshman Grant Olson may see more playing time Saturday. Starters Preston Evans and Brandon Jemison are "nicked up" but should be ready by Saturday.

ADVERTISEMENT

"They're really tough kids," Hazelton said.

Kolpack is a sports reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.

What To Read Next
DICKINSON — The Dickinson Midgets basketball teams fell to Western Dakota Association's powerhouse Century Patriots on Tuesday evening. Both the boys and girls varsity teams struggled to keep up with the Patriots' consistent scoring, falling 100-66 and 67-49 respectively.
Clancy Meyer becomes first female varsity wrestler from Dickinson to win on home mat in inaugural season
The Dawgs scored 51 points from beyond the arc in their away match against Grant County Mott-Regent.
Midgets secure 109-72 blowout win against Watford City at home in record-breaking game