UND ready to travel to Montana State
GRAND FORKS -- The Montana State football team is coming off an emotional 52-51 loss last Saturday to No. 2 Eastern Washington, which was capped by a late two-point conversion by dynamic Big Sky Conference star Vernon Adams.
GRAND FORKS - The Montana State football team is coming off an emotional 52-51 loss last Saturday to No. 2 Eastern Washington, which was capped by a late two-point conversion by dynamic Big Sky Conference star Vernon Adams.
“It was a fabulous environment,” Bobcats coach Rob Ash said. “It was an entertaining one to televise. It was all good, except for the ending.”
As the Bobcats attempt to put last week’s offensive showdown in the rear-view mirror, they have EWU’s polar opposite to prepare for in North Dakota. UND and MSU meet at 3:05 p.m. on Saturday in Bozeman.
“That’s probably a good thing,” said Ash, whose team will be playing a fourth-straight home game. “New preparation is motivating for players. It’s not like they did this last week. It’s different plays to defend … a different tempo. It’s good, but it’s also challenging.”
Eastern Washington is averaging more than 50 points per game. UND is averaging 9.8 points per game. EWU has thrown the ball 178 times to UND’s 77.
“They’re intentionally slow with the clock,” Ash said of UND. “They run less plays than teams we’ve played overall.”
UND is second in the Big Sky in highest percentage of run plays to total plays. Last week, UND ran recently converted linebacker Kyle Norberg 27 times in a 13-3 win over Stony Brook at the Alerus Center.
“Their tailbacks fit the offensive philosophy,” Ash said. “They run hard downhill. They’re well-coached in that respect. They pound it in there. They have physical, tough guys. That’s the mentality.”
Ash said offensively UND looks quite different than the past two seasons in which the team utilized the pass catching abilities of Greg Hardin, Kenny Golladay and Jameer Jackson.
“Dramatic difference,” Ash said. “It’s night and day. I’ll never forget two years ago when they threw darn near 700 yards against Montana and won that game. It’s totally different, but I understand what’s going on. They want to have a good defense and control the football.”
Ash said he recalls chatting with UND first-year head coach Bubba Schweigert at the Big Sky Conference football kickoff event in Park City, Utah, in July.
“His point was that he needed to get more athletic guys on the field (on defense),” Ash said. “I think it’s a positive change (for UND). They’re not wavering in what they want to do. Each year they’ll get better. The plan is different, but I like it. I think you can recruit to it in the upper Midwest.”
Although UND still runs a defense with three defensive linemen and four linebackers, Ash said he can see changes compared to the past two seasons.
The Bobcats scored 60 points against UND in Grand Forks a year ago, including 28 in the second quarter.
“After watching their video, you can see the speed and athleticism,” Ash said. “You see guys who are a little lighter, but they run well. They do a lot of blitzes and movement. Defensively, they’re extremely impressive with what they’re able to do. They’ve got more speed on the field, and they’re more diverse in their schemes. We’re looking forward to a stern challenge from North Dakota.”