Football Preview: UNC at Portland State

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The University of Northern Colorado Bears football team has reached a crucial fork in the road: start winning or focus on individual player development. If the Bears cannot pull out a team win, then give each individual a goal to strive for each week and for the end of the season.

This advice is not too harsh since being 0-6, anything that works should be kept and built on. So far, that building up part of the equation has been falling apart.

Portland State has only two wins on the season, but they could not be much more different if they tried. Win one was over NAIA College of Idaho and win two was over No. 14 Montana.

While the Bears could not win their own homecoming, they should look to spoil homecoming for Portland State. This game will be special since Portland State usually plays at a high school stadium, but since no other events were slated the Bears will travel to Providence Park.

This may sound familiar as it is the home of the Portland Timbers Major League Soccer team.

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Portland State’s homecoming has many fans wondering whether they will see the team who beat Montana or the team who let Nevada put 72 points.

Meanwhile, Bear fans are wondering if this tumultuous slump will have a remedy, or if the ship truly is out of control with no leaders at the helm.

What to Expect

No one in the Big Sky, not even rival teams nor Coach Collins, predicted a start that is this unsavory. It has been a tough pill to swallow for coaches, players and fans that, yes, the Bears really are winless through six games.

Last post-game interview Coach Collins looked and sounded bewildered when asked if he anticipated this kind of start to the season. Ultimately, it comes down to a lack of execution (coaches included), having too many penalties and getting out played and out coached.

This may not be a playoff-caliber team, but the roster has the talent and heart most players have played with still resembles a good football team, just not a successful one.

The Bears have decent chances of winning these next three weeks. UNC could finish 3-8 if they clean up their act and fix the mistakes.

Of the next three games, this is the best chance for the Bears to end the losing streak.

Big Sky Week 5 Recap

No. 4 Eastern Washington is starting to emerge as the team to beat for the Big Sky Championship after they steamrolled Southern Utah 55-17.

Portland State shocked the No. 14 Montana Grizzlies with a last-second field goal to pull out a 22-20 win at Montana no less.

Northern Arizona hosted No. 7 Weber State and pulled out an improbable 28-24 win.

Idaho State showed Idaho why making fun of the renewed in-state rivalry was an oversight by pounding the Vandals 62-28 and making SportsCenter highlights while doing so. Tanner Guller received Scott Van Pelt’s sticker player award for quarterback, which is often only award to FBS players.

Big Sky action concluded in Sacramento where the Cal Poly Mustangs surprised the Sacramento State Hornets 41-27.

Other Important FCS Games

Florida A&M at No. 10 North Carolina A&T

Idaho State at No. 14 UC Davis

Columbia at University of Pennsylvania

Eastern Washington at Weber State

No. 6 James Madison at Villanova

The Mirror’s Keys to the Game

Defense:

  1. Have a full defense: Everyone needs to be on the same page and execute all game long.
  2. Cause turnovers: The key to winning games is to get the ball back to the offense and let them score.
  3. Play with grit: 0-6 is an awful place to be, but running slower, not being motivated and giving up on plays is unacceptable.

Offense:

  1. No interceptions: Last game could have been closer if the first quarter did not have two interceptions.
  2. Injury or no injury: Football is a rough and tumble sport, many coaches say if you are not a little banged up that maybe you are not playing hard enough. The point is everyone is sore and tired, but there is still a game to be played.
  3. If it does not work, do not use it: The players are by no means the only ones that need to shoulder the reason for being 0-6. The time management and play calling from the coaches has been rather erratic at times. Slow down and get back to the basics.

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