As I have previously written, a season that started with such anticipation, got star crossed early and often. The Bison system functions around complimentary football. Historically we play dominating defense. The metrics here have been allowing less than 325 total yards, keeping opponents under 125 YPG in rushing and giving up less than 20 PPG. We also maintained a large Turn Over margin. Offensively we get around 250 YPG rushing (or more), are in the top 10 in passing efficiency and win the time of possession battle. Finally we are very good on all aspects of special teams.
With a young front seven for Code Green, we didn’t recover from losing Eli and Wisniewski. Teams were running on us (overall total D was great and scoring under the 20 PPG). We didn’t have TaMerik early on, lost the best TE in Bison history in Gindorff. Next, we also lost the “it factor”. DB’s were dropping INT’s and RB’s were leaving the rock on the ground (after 8 games we are only plus 3 in TO’s). Games that we should have won easily were contested (USD and Ind. State). Even the coaches jumped in. Really, pulling Cam after the taunting penalty versus the Jacks (bogus call by ref, Braylon Henderson celebrated his 40 yard catch versus ISU more than Cam)? If we go up 28-7 the bunnies would be looking up at us in the standings.
Finally, last Saturday against the Red Birds, we fired on all cylinders. We held ISU to 76 yards rushing and 2.7 YPC. The Red Birds were coming off three straight good running games in the Valley (161 YPG and 4 YPC). The D line got penetration and the LB’s punished runners. Wiz covered a slot WR that led the QB to failing on a 4th and 1. Destin ball hawked an INT in a key situation. We ran effectively on offense and Cam completed 67% of his passes. We finally looked like a Bison team.
We face a struggling WIU this week, followed by a desperate Saluki team clinging to the hopes of beating us and getting a playoff bid and we end the season at home against an over achieving UND squad that is playing its worst defense in a decade (33 PPG, 413.5 YPG total D, 270 YPG passing allowed and 5.1 YPC against the run).
The Leathernecks are in a real bad place both record wise (0-8), in every statistic that counts and most importantly the quality of their roster. Last year’s squad was subpar, but they often put a lot points on the board, so were a semi dangerous game in the Valley. This year they are 120th in rushing at 74.1 YPG, 117th in total offense at 271.8 YPG and 112th in scoring offense at 15 PPG. They truly are a one trick pony with only 6’4”, 200 lb WR Naseim Brantley as a legitimate threat (92.8 YPG receiving with 9 TD’s and 18.6 YPC).
Hey, this is a Valley team so they play stout defense? NOT! They are second to last in the FCS in total D at 505 YPG. They can’t stop the run, 224.1 YPG and 5 YPC. Passing D is abysmal at 280.9 YPG and did I mention other teams score at will (41.1 PPG, 118th in FCS). Are they good at anything? Yes losing at 0-8.
The biggest variable in this game is the weather (why in hell did the MVFC schedule two outdoor stadiums for the Herd in November?). The forecast is for thundershowers with wind on Friday and the early part of Saturday. It is supposed to clear later in the day. But with a 1 PM kickoff, weather could be an issue. Thunderstorms mean lightening and that can mean delays in starting times. Bad weather always favors the lesser team. Plus in bad weather I am sure Roehl will go with more conservative play calling. If we get up three scores he will take the air out of the ball. I am praying for good weather. Our offense is on a roll.
Coach Entz said it best; the Bison need to concentrate on themselves. How can they improve their game? Sagarin has the Herd at plus 29 points. If the weather is good and we play our game, it should be worse than that. Go Bison!