NDSU's Dunn hoping to get a 'good groove' going against Youngstown

FARGO--What started as a crowded backfield of at least four running backs is now down to two, with the argument that one is the only true tailback remaining. Lance Dunn said he's up to the task.

Chase Morlock of North Dakota State makes a touchdown against Northern Iowa during their football game Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016, in Cedar Falls.Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Lance Dunn of North Dakota State carries against Northern Iowa during their football game Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016, in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Michael Vosburg / Forum News Service

FARGO-What started as a crowded backfield of at least four running backs is now down to two, with the argument that one is the only true tailback remaining. Lance Dunn said he's up to the task.

The sophomore is most likely slated to get the bulk of the carries when the Bison host Youngstown State Saturday at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome. Senior King Frazier is out for at least another week with a rib injury and sophomore Bruce Anderson is still sidelined with a sprained ankle.

Senior Chase Morlock is the other tailback, although he's been more of a multidimensional back used in other roles like fullback or slot receiver. Redshirt freshman Demaris Purifoy is also out with injury.

That leaves it mainly up to Dunn.

"I've been preparing myself for this moment the whole season," he said. "I'm mentally prepared for it and physically prepared for it."


Dunn is coming off a mental career high of sorts, being part of a winning effort at Northern Iowa last week. He's from Waterloo, Iowa, located next door to UNI's home in Cedar Falls. Certainly, he had a lot of family and friends at the game.

"It was an awesome feeling," Dunn said. "The best feeling, just to be able to get a tough victory against a good team in front of your friends and family."

Like UNI, Youngstown State stands to bring a stout defensive line at the Bison backs. The Penguins have allowed only one rushing touchdown all season and feature a defense that starts nine seniors. Youngstown (15.5) and NDSU (18.4) are the top two scoring defenses in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.

Coaches across the league have called defensive ends Avery Moss and Derek Rivers the best tandem in Division I FCS. Unlike previous games when the Bison backs have had to share the load, Dunn may get a chance in every quarter.

"It's kind of hard to get a good groove going," he said.

YSU has different defensive scheme

Indiana State head coach Mike Sanford got an up-close view of the Youngstown defense last week in YSU's 13-10 win. He said because of the talent level of the Penguin defensive line, and its ability to stop the run with the front four and three linebackers, the secondary is able to do its own thing.

YSU plays strictly man-to-man coverages on the back end and rarely needs to provide help. All four defensive backs are seniors.


"They have a good pass-coverage scheme, it's a little different than what everybody else plays," Sanford said.

The cornerbacks, Nate Dortch and Kenny Bishop, were high school teammates at South Fort Myers in Fort Myers, Fla. Dortch played two years at the University of Miami (Fla.) before transferring.

"Everybody talks about their defensive ends and they're great players," said NDSU head coach Chris Klieman. ""But the thing that sets them apart is their ability to play lockdown man coverage. It allows the guys up front more time to get to the quarterback. We know we'll see man coverage ... and everybody has to be able to win a one-on-one matchup."

Etc. etc. etc.

--NDSU will wear its yellow jerseys with the green Harvest Bowl helmets for the first time this season. Asked if that makes a difference, Klieman said, "Little things like that? Sure as heck does. We haven't worn them yet, haven't had the option, so any little edge like that."

--NDSU is 37-2-2 in its Harvest Bowl history starting with a 14-7 win over Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1974. The 1991 game against Nebraska-Omaha was canceled because of a blizzard.

--Youngstown is the seventh top 25 opponent for NDSU this season, the most in Bison school history. The Bison faced six ranked opponents in 2014 and 10 overall including the playoffs.

--Youngstown has rallied in the fourth quarter for its last three wins, beating Illinois State 20-6 after trailing 6-3, beating UNI 14-10 after trailing 10-0 going into the fourth and the win last week over Indiana State on a punt return for a touchdown.

Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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