Football Preview: North Dakota at UNC

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Four weeks of football frustration later, the University of Northern Colorado football team is still in search of its first win. For the first time this season, the Bears will not be the underdogs as they are favored to win by three points.

Although the analysts think the Bears can win, it does not count until the Bears actually show they are capable of doing so.

UND played Idaho State last week and were spoiled on the last drive with an interception just in front of the end zone. UNC may have lost by 17 to Weber State, but the defense did show they are capable of producing turnovers, which could prove be critical this Saturday.
What To Expect
The Bears are winless on the season, yet Versus Sports Simulator has the Bears as a three point favorite, despite UND’s two win record, including a win over top-10 ranked Sam Houston State to drop them from the top 10.

Offensively the Bears have been making strides forward in the run game with Milo Hall getting close to 80 yards in the last two games. Despite his success, Trae Riek and the offensive line have not fared as well in the production department with Keaton Mott receiving serious pressure and concerning hits constantly.

The only constant for the offense has been Alex Wesley’s uncanny ability to bail the Bears out of 3rd down and long conversions.

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Defensively the Bears were ice cold and sizzling hot last week. They caused a fumble and picked off Jake Constantine twice. They also allowed a 96 yard touchdown sprint from Josh Davis and special teams allowed a 100-plus yard kickoff return for a touchdown.

Going into week five the Bears should be confident of their abilities since they have competed in two away and two home games. The time for jitters and mistakes is over. Now the goal must be to play a full game with a full effort from all members and coaches, too.

Big Sky Week 3 Recap

Montana outlasted Sacramento State 41-34, marking the 200th win at WA-Grizzly Stadium.

Eastern Washington torched Cal Poly even worse than the defending champions did by putting up 70 points to Cal Poly’s 17.

Idaho State thwarted North Dakota’s comeback by intercepting the would-be game winning touchdown to seal the 25-21 win.

Montana State put on a show at Portland State by a 20-point margin of victory of 43-23.

Northern Arizona bounced back 31- 23 over Southern Utah for the Grand Canyon trophy rivalry.

UC Davis wrapped up the week by spanking former FBS opponent, now two-year Big Sky residents, University of Idaho 44-21.

Other FCS Games of Importance

South Dakota State vs. North Dakota State (Dakota Marker Rivalry)

James Madison vs. Richmond

Eastern Washington vs. Montana State

Samford vs. Kennesaw State

Prairie View A&M vs. Grambling State

The Mirror’s Keys to the Game

Defense:

Play a full defense: At Weber State, the defense was producing turnovers well, but didn’t contain the big plays well. If the Bears can contain and get the ball back they will win.

Prevent 20-plus yard plays: Plays like the 96-yard run and the 100-yard kickoff return for touchdowns should never have happened. Mistakes will happen, but having no one of the eleven players able to stop either play is completely indefensible.

Work together: Some of the defensive players can get the job done by themselves, but in other matchups it is easier to work together to make the play.

Rather than go for the solo tackle to save the play, wrap up and use teammates to drive the player down.

Offense:

Throw the ball away: Mott is doing well at being a leader and stepping up, but forcing throws when scrambling forward with an incoming defender has led to an interception or fumble on several occasions. Give the play up rather than the possession.

University of Northern Colorado quarterback Keaton Mott throws as a Sacramento State defender closes in on him Sept. 15 at Nottingham Field in Greeley. Photo courtesy of uncbears.com

Quit calling screen plays: The decisions to call screen plays last game were borderline reckless. When the linebackers and defensive ends are the stars of the defense that means the outside edges will be swarmed which is exactly where screen plays develop. If screen plays must be a staple of the offense at least add an alternate hot route with Wesley on the opposite side to run a seam route for a possible jump-ball situation or a seven-yard slant for a quick pass situation.

Use what works: The offense has tried for three seasons to be a power running team, but every season it is evident the blocking schemes or blockers themselves are not built for that system. Elusive runs, corner routes to Wesley, play-action routes to the tight ends, creative uses of Fairman and Warren, and fade routes to Noah Sol have all done well. Stick to what works.

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