UND Football: Three Thoughts After Hawks Soar Past the Bearkats

(Photo Credit: Russ Hons-FightingHawks.com)

Yesterday, UND was able to head down to Huntsville, Texas and knock off a top five opponent in the Bearkats of Sam Houston State. A lot of good things happened for UND in this one, and some things happened that they will want to adress before playing another team in Idaho State at home that runs a similar quick-strike offense to the Bearkats. This 24-23 win puts the Fighting Hawks in the playoff discussion, but they need to follow up their arguably biggest non-conference non-FBS win in the Bubba Schweigert era with a continued emphasis on improvement and development for the win to have an even bigger relevance come playoff time.

The Good 

Starting quarterback, Nate Ketteringham can make most throws in this pro-style offense. During the game-winning drive alone he made a superb, high-lofting throw to Izzy Adeoti to put UND in position for the touchdown to Noah Wanzek. The 48 yard pass was perfectly lofted in between two Sam Houston State defenders. Adeoti timed his route perfectly and made a superb catch between two defenders, helping get UND into position for the go ahead fade in the end zone to Wanzek a few plays later.

Tank Harris lived up to his nickname yesterday. He was in the middle of a lot of strong play for the Fighting Hawks up front. His high motor is fun to watch on a weekly basis. His compete level, combined with the amount of reps he will get against Idaho State will make for an interesting facet to next week. UND being able to generate pressure with its defensive line alone, lead by Tank, helps the secondary get more options to cover another fast team in Idaho State.

One more positive area for UND out of yesterday, the running backs. We all know UND has a strong running game that relies on John Santiago, James Johannesson, and Brady Oliveira. What was nice to see yesterday in particular was the balance and the rush per carry average, everyone in this rotation averaged at least 4.1 yards per carry, over a first down per three carries. The diamond formation this team has employed combined with its lateral quickness with players like Adeoti have provided a needed wrinkle to utilize all three rushers in more ways this year.

Things to Build Upon

Penalties, while UND did a lot of things right yesterday, penalties and cleaning up some things are always a thing this staff wants to build upon. If UND can limit their penalties to less than one per quarter I think absent playing penalty free that this staff would like those numbers.

On defense, UND’s secondary had a superb day yesterday in the fourth quarter and first half. One thing I would like to see the team build on is defending the quick pass and lateral plays in general. They had multiple missed tackles yesterday on short passes that lead to big Bearkat gains. Also, these short passes are not a Bearkats only feature. Mississippi Valley State generated all of its offense through quick passes against the Fighting Hawks. Washington had 437 yards through the air on 45 attempts. That being said, the secondary has gotten better each week defending against big plays. Now locking down some more underneath routes and limiting gains are the next step for this continuously developing defensive backfield.

Regarding the Bengals

Idaho State played FBS foe California tough. The Bears knocked off the Bengals 45-23. That being said, the Bengals were able to put up 319 total yards of offense in a balanced attack. Idaho State’s quick strike offense will be another issue for the Fighting Hawks. The Bengals run some of the same setups that Sam Houston does.That being said, UND now has a lot of experience facing spread-type offenses that like to push the tempo. On a friendly field for homecoming six days from today, the experience UND has gained in their first three tests will benefit them against Idaho State. When the crowd is on the Fighting Hawks’ side, it just comes down to defense. If UND can turn a few first down potential passes into small gains and force third-and-long scenarios, then with a boisterous Alerus Center crowd, good things can happen for the Fighting Hawks.

UND is definitely “in” the playoff conversation now. That being said, how long they stay “in” the conversation is dependent on what they can do the rest of the way. That all starts this upcoming weekend as the Fighting Hawks defend the Alerus Center for the first time in three weeks on Saturday against Idaho State.

 

 

 

NHL Pyramid: UND Fighting Hawks 2018-2019

(Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee Violent Turtle Photography)

Every year for the past few seasons, Toronto Maple Leafs’ fan and Youtuber extraordinaire, Steve Dangle, has created a prospect pyramid for the Leafs and inspired countless blogs and videos with this system. A few years ago, I created an NCAA adaptation of this with the NHL Pyramid for UND. Let’s see what this year’s tiers look like for the Fighting Hawks. This pyramid will focus on a player’s chance to make the NHL, and play at least enough games to no longer be considered a rookie.

Tier One: 75 percent or better chance 

Jacob Bernard-Docker, Jonny Tychonick, Grant Mismash, Colton Poolman

The pair of incoming recruits were both drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the first and  second rounds, respectively. Bernard-Docker, and Tychonick have played together before on a defensive pair. The two compliment each other quite well. Bernard-Docker is more of a two-way defender that can make the occasional play on offense. On the other hand, Tychonick is an offensive dynamo who is able to generate offense in bunches. Both have strong components to their game. Each defender also had the advantage of spending this summer with the newest Senator and former UND defender Christian Wolanin. They know what it takes to get drafted, and spending time learning about what to expect from Wolanin, combined with a coaching staff featuring head coach Brad Berry, who has a track record of working with and developing defenders in the pro game. How long they each spend here will be a function of their personal goals, and what happens with the Senators this season. One good thing UND fans have going for them with Bernard-Docker and Tychonick is their drafting team. Ottawa has seen what three years can do for development with Wolanin. They will not be rushed to the pro game, as the Senators already see the reward for waiting for a player to develop.

As for Mismash, the second round pick  of the Nashville Predators is in the mix for another spot on the World Juniors’ roster this year. One thing that stands out to me about his game is his consistency. Even if his stats don’t reflect themselves in the box score, he is improving in the defensive end with his positioning. The Predators’ prospect looks to earn himself more time this season, and be a key contributor for the Fighting Hawks in all situations.

As for Poolman, he is the only undrafted free agent to make this list. He has already turned down NHL offers, according to Brad Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald. Poolman is a strong two-way defender that will be called on to lead the younger defensive corps the Fighting Hawks will have this season. He did earn an invite to Vancouver Canucks’ development camp. As a junior, look for him to embrace his captaincy for UND and lead the team from the back end. He will not jump up into every single rush for the Fighting Hawks, but when he does he usually makes good things happen. Every NHL team has a need for strong, puck-moving, and responsible two way defenders. Look for more from Colton this year, and look for him to consider his options when the season ends.

Tier Two: 50-75 percent chance

Nick Jones, Peter Thome, Colin Adams, Rhett Gardner

Each of these three players has a strong quality to their game, and something to add on this season. Nick Jones is coming off of a season where he averaged nearly a point-per-game (30 points in 34 games). He is a smaller forward who does not let his height define him. Jones plays a solid two-way game, and this season his chances of earning an NHL deal hinge on his ability to replicate his success, and show scouts his defensive prowess on the penalty kill. The NHL is filled with superb forwards under six feet, no reason why Jones can’t develop into one with a consistent well rounded game this year. His continued development and leadership will be a strong benefit to a younger UND team this season.

As for Thome, to me his rank this high is for a few reasons. First, he earned multiple games in net from a national champion goalie (Cam Johnson who signed a pro deal with the New Jersey Devils upon his season ending) because of his calming play. The Minneapolis native is 6’4″ and uses every bit of his frame to cover a lot of net.Thome plays a smooth game as a netminder. He does not make a lot of highlight reel saves because his positioning and frame allow him not to have that as a constant need. The Columbus Blue Jackets’ prospect gained key experience going up against high-powered teams last season in his limited time. What Thome can build on this season, is lateral movement and puck handling this year. If Thome can improve his lateral game to help his defense out, combined with his superb glove play and positioning he could rise to the top tier here relatively soon. The other issue for Thome is Columbus itself. While Sergei Bobrovsky is locked in as the starter,  Thome will have to develop for a few more years at UND and then look to move up from Columbus’ AHL team, the Cleveland Monsters’ soon.

The Blue Jackets have three goalies that are drafted and not signed, just like Thome. His toughest competition within the system comes from Elvis Merzlikins playing overseas for HC Lugano in Switzerland this year. Look for Thome’s game to take the next step as he moves into a full time starting role for the Fighting Hawks this season.

As for Colin Adams, he showed flashes of brilliance with his goal scoring prowess this year. He scored a goal in two of his first three games last year. Adams only finished with five tallies but still profiles as a strong sniper able to generate offense as needed, especially on the power play. With one year under his belt, I look for him to have an improved season as long as his defense can allow him to generate more ice time and therefore more goal scoring chances. Good, and cheap goal scoring is always in demand in the NHL, Adams developing his game to get more time on the ice will allow him to better showcase his skills. He put up 51 goals in two seasons in the USHL. If Adams can earn more ice time he will score more this season. The Islanders will be closely watching their prospect develop this season.

Finally, while I think Rhett Gardner has developed dramatically in his time at UND, he is in this tier more as a function of who else the Stars have and the amount of time I expect him to spend in the AHL. Rhett will get an NHL look and very soon, but he will be competing against Riley Tufte and other forwards who possess Rhett’s same defensive prowess, but are able to score a few more goals more consistently than Rhett has shown so far. Will Rhett Gardner play in the NHL? In my opinion, yes. Will that happen before a longer stint in the AHL than some other Stars’ prospects, I don’t know. Gardner has a senior season ahead of him to build the offensive side of his game and become a leading goal scorer for UND.

Tier Three: 25-49.9 percent chance of making the NHL

Jasper Weatherby, Gabe Bast, Gavin Hain

The Oregon native is a strong power forward that the Sharks thought enough of to trade up to get in the fourth round of the 2018 NHL Draft. He developed in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) with the Wenatchee Wild. He put up 106 points in 104 BCHL games. Weatherby is 6’4″ like Thome and will see immediate chances on UND in at least a bottom-six role. If he showcases the gains he has made in his game over the summer, combined with the needs of the team he could get even more time. UND develops all types of forwards, but, like Austin Poganski before him, he is a strong two-way player that will develop into an all around player at the NCAA level.

As for Bast, he came off shoulder surgery as a freshman and only played 27 games on defense for UND. I think he is a potential gem for the Fighting Hawks for a few reasons. Bast’s physical style of play and responsibility on the back end will help open up opportunities for UND’s offensive-minded defenseman this season. In addition, there is offensive potential not discovered at this level for Bast. He can generate offense as shown in his last full season of junior hockey, he put up 40 points (9 goals, 31 assists) in 49 regular season games for Penticton.

Gavin Hain was also drafted this offseason by Dave Hakstol’s Flyers. Look for him to compete for time on ice with sophomores Jordan Kawaguchi and Colin Adams, just to name a few. He will develop here for a few years, and has an impressive background playing for the USA National Development Team before coming to UND.

Tier Four: Everyone Else

As for every other UND player, I hope to be proven wrong. This team has a lot of depth this year, including senior leader Hayden Shaw.  The point is to say that this team, like every college hockey team, has a lot of depth and players develop at irregular intervals and times.

Also, college hockey championships are not won without depth players. Regardless of NHL capability, every player on this roster is here for a reason and belongs on this team.

Finally, UND has over 40 players playing in pro leagues around the world. To me that means that all players are being scouted every game by pro organizations around the world. Look for a lot out of everyone on this team this season. I hope multiple people not named on this list make the NHL and prove me wrong.

 

 

Three Thoughts: UND Soccer Concedes 1-0 Loss in Hard Fought Effort Against Bemidji State

(Photo Credit: Russ Hons-FightingHawks.com)

Today, at East Grand Forks Senior High, UND Soccer conceded their first goal and lost their first game of the season to a Bemidji State team who came in ranked number 22 in all of Division Two Women’s Soccer.

The lone goal was conceded on a fortuitous deflection inside of a crowded box that found its way to Rachel Norton. She was able to fire the only tally of the day past UND netminder Olivia Swenson to provide the final margin.

Despite the final result, UND learned some more things about itself today and can take some positives from this one going forward.

  1. The Fighting Hawks had a better second half today. They doubled their first half shots total to accumulate eight shots in the second. Three of those shots were on goal. Head Coach Chris Logan thought his team had the better of play in the second half despite a strong wind benefiting Bemidji State in the second half.
  2.  This Beavers team is good. They came in ranked 22 in Division Two soccer. They will compete for both their conference championship and the Division Two title. That being said, I think UND learned a bit more about types of teams they will face, and got good things to review from today. This Beavers team reminds me a bit of some Summit League teams like South Dakota. They have a strong back front that relies on consistent, smart, and physical play to set up counter attacks from fast and efficient strikers. UND head Coach Chris Logan noted before the game that this team would be at least a mid-tier Summit League team, if not higher.
  3. UND has a tough challenge in its final non-conference road trip of the season coming up this week. They take on Grambiling State, who went 7-2-1 in the Southwest Athletic Conference (SWAC) last season. This Grambling State team returns their top offensive players, and is poised to compete for a SWAC championship. After that, they take on Alcorn State, another SWAC team building off a trip to the SWAC tournament last season, to round out the weekend. This trip will once again test UND’s ability to play through adversity and give UND more practice with taking long trips and playing against different systems.

If UND can compete at the level it did in the second half, a good non-conference trip could await the Fighting Hawks. Chris Logan wants his team to “play angry” and learn from this loss moving forward. This Fighting Hawks team already strung together one perfect southern road trip, now its time to see how well they can do in their second southern swing.

 

MVSU Football: A Chat With Starting QB Chris Fowler

(Photo Credit: MVSU Athletics)

Mississippi Valley State University Delta Devils’ sophomore quarterback Chris Fowler Jr. is coming off an opener against North Dakota where he was the main conductor for the quick-strike offense of the Delta Devils. This team runs a system that relies on his ability to make quick reads and adjust to the defense on the fly.He finished with 263 yards and a touchdown pass last week. The system that Fowler plays in encourages quick passes to his talented group of wide receivers lead by seniors Quinn McElfresh and Booker Chambers, as well as junior Demarcus Frazier.

The Delta Devils take on Jacksonville State tomorrow night on the road at 6:00 PM on ESPN Plus.

Recently, I had a chance to talk with Fowler about some of his off-field experiences, why he choose MVSU, a bit more about what he hopes to improve on in his sophomore season, and how his game has developed so far.

What are your off the field goals for your sophomore season?

“One of the things I take pride in, is my effort in the classroom. So I would like to be an Academic All American for the second year in a row and maintain a 4.0 GPA like I did last year.”

What are some fun off the field things you and your teammates like to do when not practicing?

“My teammates and I like to compete, so that competitive nature follows us off the field as well. Whether it’s a Madden tournament, bowling, racing, or ping pong in the locker room, we all have fun striving to be the best at whatever it is we are doing at that moment. The funnier moments come in the locker room when you have guys rapping/singing and dancing to their favorite artists while the others are cracking jokes. “
What inspired you to choose your major?
 “A variety of things. Let me start by saying I didn’t just come to college to play football. I wanted to push myself the same way I do in the weight room and on the field, in the classroom as well. With that being said, I wanted something that would challenge me but also give me something to fall back on if the game of football didn’t work out. I used to always wonder how criminals would serve a sentence where “the time didn’t fit the crime” based off some loophole in the system. It just so happens my mother is a paralegal so we had a lot of books about the laws and particular cases in the house growing up so I knew Criminal Justice would always be a major that had a special place in my heart.”
Why did you come to MVSU?
 “I felt wanted. Coach Anderson did a GREAT job recruiting me and they stuck with me through thick and thin.”
What are your career goals?
“To be happy and love whatever it is I end up doing. I know that if I love what I’m doing and I am genuinely happy doing it, then I’ll be successful no matter what it is. “
What is the biggest area of your game that’s developed since you have come to MVSU?
“My feet. Coach Flowers [Offensive Coordinator] has done an awesome job at stressing how important my feet are in relation to rhythm, timing, and velocity. The constant drilling in practice has caused me to play faster and more confidently in the pocket. Every time I catch a snap I hear Coach Flowers’ favorite five words ‘YOU HAVE TO DROP HARD!’ “
What are some of your favorite spots on campus but away from the field to be?
“Study hall, the weight room and my room. I love to help people, so in study hall when I see my teammates or other athletes struggling with a subject I’m strong in, I take pride in being the first to lend a helping hand. In my opinion the weight room is where championships are won and lost. The sweat equity from the weight room can take teams a long way late in the season and I love giving everything I have in the weight room for this team. Last but not least, my room. Like the old saying goes, “There’s no place like home.” Sleep is a big part of my recovery and I like to read knowledgeable books in my down time; both of which happen in my room.”
What do you get from being at MVSU that you could get no where else.

“Gratitude. Being at MVSU made me thankful for the little things in life that I sometimes used to take for granted and for that reason Valley will always hold a special place in my heart. “

Magnificient Moller: How Katie Moller’s Hat Trick Helped UND Fly to 3-0 Win Over Minnesota Duluth

(Photo Credit: Russ Hons-FightingHawks.com)

Last week, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks learned more about their team in Montana. They did not concede a goal in 210 minutes of play, improved their defense, and utilized opportunistic strikes from their forwards to take the first game against Idaho. Against Montana on UM’s home turf, they were able to come within inches of an extra-time penalty kick and win with their depth and speed, combined with more superb play from netminder Olivia Swenson.

Today, the team was able to draw on their goal-scorer extraordinaire, senior forward Katie Moller to propel them to the victory.Her three goals now give her six tallies on the season. She earned the first hat trick for this program since 2010 when Rachel Loomis scored three goals against South Carolina State.

Moller’s goals came from three different fighting Hawks. Megan Wright, Ashley Ebeling, and Cassie Giddings all contributed to Katie’s superb day. In addition, these goals each showcased how Moller is able to deal with oppenents,either with speed or by winning battles. She won a battle on a throw in and did not miss for her second score, and was able to use her precision shot on the first and third goals to provide the difference for UND.

As for the rest of the game, Head Coach Chris Logan noted that Minnesota Duluth played quite well. Without Moller on the field this result may have been a bit different. In addition, give credit to the entire UND team for playing sound defense. While they gave up a lot of chances, as Minnesota Duluth had 12 shots total, only six of those were able to get on goal to goalie Olivia Swenson. She has earned the starting job through her consistent play and ability to help set up attacks for UND.

Unlike previous years where she started, Swenson is not being asked to make 15 or more saves a game. She praises her defense at every chance she can, and because of them has less work each game. Thanks to UND’s ability to limit chances on net, the Fighting Hawks will be competitive in the games they play the rest of the way.

The next test for the Fighting Hawks comes Sunday at 2 PM against Bemidji State. The Beavers’ team speed will be the biggest thing UND has to contend with on the fast turf surface this Sunday.

Looking Ahead for UND Football: A Chat With Sam Herder of Hero Sports

(Photo Credit: Russ Hons-FightingHawks.com)

Recently, Sam Herder, senior FCS analyst for Hero Sports, had a chance to describe some answers to immediate questions that will determine what UND does both in a few weeks against FCS power Sam Houston State, what they do this week against Pac-12 powerhouse Washington, and more on all things UND Fighting Hawks Football.

  • Which Fighting Hawks do you see as having the most pro potential and why?
    • “Deion Harris. He was one of the top NFL Draft prospects in the FCS last spring before suffering an injury that sidelined him for the entire 2017 season. His stock has dropped obviously, but I think if he can get more comfortable out there and get back to his old self, NFL teams are going to love his size and athleticism.”
  • What does UND need to work on against Washington to get ready for the Bearkats?
    • “UND’s secondary is no doubt going to get tested against SHSU. Just getting experience, especially against a power of an opponent in Washington, is going to make going up against the Bearkat wide receivers a more doable challenge.”
  • What is the biggest benefit besides the guarantee UND gets from playing Washington?
    • “Honestly, these type of matchups are usually about the money, trying to compete for most of the game and staying healthy. The trenches are usually where FCS teams get beat up and UND just wants to make it out of here healthy. The big benefit is this is without a doubt the best opponent on the schedule, so the rest of the opponents are on a more equal playing field.”
  • What does UND need to build on in 2018, and 2019 to be competitive in the Missouri Valley?
    • “To get more physical on the offensive and defensive lines and to recruit better overall athletes. If the Hawks want to make noise in the MVFC, it’s going to have to match the physicality of teams like UNI, Illinois State and NDSU. And as we saw last year, USD was much more athletic than UND. They need to recruit better and develop those athletes.”
  • Who are some players on Sam Houston State Fighting Hawks fans need to keep an eye on this weekend as they take on Prairie View A&M?
    • “Keep on eye on who the quarterback is going to be and how well he replaces two-time Walter Payton Award winner Jeremiah Briscoe. Indications are it’s probably going to be Mike Dare, who started his career at Rutgers. And keep an eye on wide receivers Nathan Stewart and Davion Davis, who are probably the best duo in the FCS.”
  • What type of scheme do the BearKats run on offense, and how do the Fighting Hawks stack up against them?
    • “SHSU wants to score as many points as possible and hold on for dear life on defense. It’s basically all shotgun with a ton of passing, although SHSU does have talent at running back. The Bearkats are going to take their shots downfield, but also will get the ball out of the QBs hands quickly with screens and quick passes to the flats to their speedy WRs.”
  • What are some off-field things UND fans traveling to Huntsville Texas should take advantage of?
    • “Just check out the tailgating and interact with SHSU fans. It’s always fun to see the type of tailgating people do in different parts of the country.”
  • Is Sam Houston State capable of winning the FCS Championship this season?
    • “It’s not impossible. But it’s also not very likely. SHSU can go toe to toe with anyone in the FCS when it comes to pure athleticism. However, the offensive and defensive lines are nowhere close to being physical enough and the defense has major work to do. Both of those weaknesses have been exposed for the last handful of years in their playoff exits.”

 

 

 

 

Rautio and Williams Return the UND Fighting Hawks to Another UND Classic Championship

(Photo Credit Russ Hons-FightingHawks.com)

Coming into the final match of the UND Classic for the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks, Head Coach Mark Pryor’s squad had ridden a roller coaster in their previous two games. Both resulted in sweeps, both included points where the opponent was able to exude some influence and make some plays or cause a few UND errors. Tonight was no exception. UND was able to utilize consistent offense throughout while working to keep its mistakes to a minimum to withstand opponent runs. The Fighting Hawks ended tonight with a sweep of the UND Classic thanks to a 3-0 sweep of the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters.

One player that stood out tonight was freshman Finnish setter Roosa Rautio. Her ability to provide clean set after set for the superb hitters this team has does not go overlooked by anyone. Kayla Williams noted the energy she brings to the team. Tonight, Rautio had a double-double featuring 32 assists and 10 digs.  She helped set 32 of the 37 kills UND had on the evening. Rautio assisted on 86.4 percent of the offense generated by the Fighting Hawks.

After this weekend,we are beginning to see the form of this UND team. They prioritize not only being low error, but using superb passing and setups to spur their front line hitters to greatness every game. Rautio and her years of international experience will help UND drive to its goals this season. In addition, Kayla Williams has had a superb weekend for the Fighting Hawks. She had a double-double on Thursday against Eastern Washington and participates in all phases of the game for UND. From her jump serve to her ability to play all six rotations for UND and lead the way with kills, Head Coach Mark Pryor has found a talented hitter, that along with Rautio and the rest of the Fighting Hawks should provide a strong base from which to retool this year.

The Fighting Hawks spend the next few weeks on the road to finish out their non-conference schedule before starting the Summit Season at home against The North Dakota State University Bison.

 

Second Straight: How UND Volleyball Earned Its Second Consecutive Sweep at the UND Classic

For the second consecutive match at the UND Classic, the Fighting Hawks pulled off a sweep today. In this one the swept the Western Carolina Catamounts (25-19, 25-19, and 25-16). With this win, the Fighting Hawks are now 3-3 on the season.

Like yesterday, the Fighting Hawks were able to utilize a strong effort up front from Kayla Williams, Jordan Vail, and Ashley Brueggeman to deliver a strong victory .

Despite the score, UND also had multiple times where it only capitalized on WCU errors and were not able to put them away. The Fighting Hawks played an up-and-down game and were still able to put away the victory.

The Fighting Hawks will have to get ready quickly for their next match later on as they take on the Louisiana Tech Lady Techsters.

As for this game, a couple of things stood out.

Freshman Roosa Rautio seems to get at least 30 assists in most of UND’s games as she has most of the way this year. Today her 32 asssists allowed the frontline of UND to be in the right spot to put away more chances. UND hit .272 on the match including a .302 third set.

Second, Kayla Williams is making a case for Summit League honors with her play at this tournament. Coming off a double double, she helped UND on offense and defense. Her two way play ( 11 kills, 6 digs, 2 aces) helped key UND in all areas in different phases today. Look for more from the UCONN transfer each and every time out there.

If UND can maintain consistency tonight against Louisiana Tech and avoid long stretches of errors or missed chances, then good things could be in store tonight at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.

Three Thoughts on UND Football After Season Opening Win

Last night, UND used a strong second half to pull away from an upstart Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils’ squad. They had some good things, things to build on, and questions answered going forward. How they build on these things will go a long way to determining their fate next weekend against FBS powerhouse the University of Washington. The Fighting Hawks travel to take on the Huskies next weekend.

The Good

Starting quarterback Nate Ketteringham had a stupendous first game. He made the majority of his throws and absent a few drops, his final stat line (19-30 225 yards and 3 TD’s) could have been even better. He utilized seven different Fighting Hawks in a diverse passing attack. That passing attack was also bolstered by Ketteringham’s ability to scramble as he eluded pressure and ran for 25 yards on six carries with a QB sneak touchdown.

The display of speed and versatility that Coach Danny Freund’s Jets (wideouts) put on was fun to watch. Izzy Adeoti (3 catches on 40 yafds) and Garett Maag (First College Football Touchdown) had multiple chances and were fun to watch. Adeoti finished last season with 93 receiving yards and already has almost half his total after one game. Izzy’s speed allows UND to utilize him on multiple jet sweep and quick strike looks.

Things to Build Upon

While the UND defense had seven sacks on the night and pressured MVSU QB Chris Fowler at-will, the secondary was shown to have some things to sure up. The Delta Devils utilized their veteran receiving corps to make quick plays on the periphery that provided a lot of their offense. UND gave up 263 yards in the air on 22 completions. UND needs to figure out more max coverage packages to compensate against Washington. They will not be able to bring five or six players at will like they could last night.

On special teams, while Cade Peterson handled punting last night, it would not shock me to see graduate transfer Warren Taylor get some looks as well. Peterson had two punts with a long of 26 yards. While he won the punting competition, no job is ever safe on a week-to-week basis with this staff. In addition, UND freshman kicker Brady Leach missed two field goals from under 40 yards. The Fighting Hawks will improve in both areas going forward.

Questions Answered

At full health, the UND defense will force most teams to change their style a bit to move the ball. While MVSU is a pass first team, they had to rely on it all game because the strong run defense of UND limited them to -27 yards on 26 attempts.

Nate Ketteringham looks to be the real deal. He made every throw presented, and looked calm and efficient directing the offense.

The running back trio of UND is still their biggest asset on offense. John Santiago, Brady Oliveira and James Johannesson will determine how this offense goes this season. UND implemented a new full-house formation with all of them and ran a lot of successful looks out of them all night.

 

35-7: How Tonight’s Score Does Not Tell the Whole Story for MVSU

(Photo Credit: Russ Hons – FightingHawks.com)

When I talked to Mississippi Valley State Delta Devils’ Head Coach Vincent Dancy a few weeks ago, he wanted to see what type of team he would have this season. Well the Delta Devils found out a few things about their team tonight in Grand Forks.

Despite the 35-7 final score, MVSU found that they can compete with the teams they play. Dancy, and starting quarterback Chris Fowler noted their ability to utilize their superb passing game to move the ball as needed. He finished the night 22-39 with 263 yards and a touchdown pass to Demarcu Fraizer. The senior corps of wideouts for the Delta Devils will be their strength on offense this season,They made play after play tonight and did not drop a ball.

Fowler’s ability to find Frazier, Booker Chambers, and Quinn McElfresh among others will determine a lot about the 2018 Delta Devils and their performance in the SWAC. Chambers impressed me with his ability to create big plays both in the slot and in special teams. He finished the night with 150 total all purpose yards.

Head Coach Dancy noted some more things. The Delta Devils left according to him 17 points on the board as they gave up a fumble on the UND goal line, a missed 29 yard field goal, and not being able to punch in the best kick return of the night from Booker Chambers which only went for 79 yards. In addition, the Delta Devils played a tough game on defense and forced UND to run the ball frequently. Despite the final statistics, they do not tell the entire story for this team. While UND was able to move the ball, Coach Dancy’s defense forced some mistakes and made UND make plays to beat them. UND is one of the toughest teams MVSU will play this season. For Coach Dancy to take this team in his first game as their leader, and help keep them in it through three quarters and competitive throughout should leave MVSU fans with hope for the future of the Dancy Era.

One thing that stood out to me was at the end of the game. From the press box it looked like Fowler was motioning for the punt team to stay off the field to punt to UND to end the game. The team still punted but the body language of the Delta Devils showed me something tonight. This team traveled across the country to open up another season in North Dakota and handled themselves well. They played a team with a superb pass rush, running back trio, and talented wideouts just to name a few of their high-skilled areas, and hung with them.

MVSU still has things to work on this week, of course, if they can convert on half of their chances that they create they will be in more games in SWAC play and beyond. This bodes well for the future of what Dancy wants to do. He has instilled a complete culture of competition and 100 percent energy as a basic expectation in Itta Bena. As Fowler said of Dancy, “he treats us like champions.”  That showed in every aspect of how the Delta Devils warmed up and played tonight. If the MVSU that went five for seven in converting third downs in the first half can repeat the things that drive them against Jacksonville State and beyond, then good things both this year and long term could await one of the most storied schools in the country regarding developing top-tier NFL talent.