This is being posted after the game. It was published on Bison Report before last week's game. My lap top key board went down before I could post here. Other than the slow start, the Herd accomplished what I laid out.
This is the 11th time since our run of greatness in the FCS started in 2011 that we have faced an opponent ranked 220 or worse in Sagarin’s “Blue Book”, (mostly non-conference). The Bulldogs start the season ranked 246 in their preseason ratings. In our ten previous encounters we have manhandled such foes to the tune of 58.8 to 2.7. Last year’s over 220 rated team, Valparaiso, fell victim to a 64-0 blowout in Fargo. By the way Valpo beat Drake the following week 24-21. The Drake team we play this week should be weaker than last year’s team having lost 9 of their top 11 tacklers to graduation.
Games with this level of competition are what I call developmental games. Drake needs the $230,000 cash we pay them to get beat up, so they can fund their program to play in the Pioneer League. We get a warm up game where we can knock the rust off and play most or all of the roster in a home game. In the Valpo game 79 players saw the field with over 10 playing for the Bison for the first time.
What to expect on Saturday? The offense should explode in the first half and Code Green will be trying to pitch a shutout (six of the previous 10 have been zeroes). The starting rotation of running backs (Williams, Gonnella, and Johnson) will only see 4-6 carries. Luepke will probably catch a few passes and get a few runs. We should see Bussey more than usual and T K Marshall should be the leading carrier. Exciting freshman RB, Barika Kpeenu should make his debut. Yes, if this isn’t a shellacking, the Bison didn’t show up.
Let me give you some fun keys to watch in this game. When does Cole Payton come in the game? I am hoping it’s the first quarter because that means they are integrating him into some of the packages they designed for the departed Quincy Patterson. Next, do we get to see Bryce Lance, Hegerle or Collins run some early deep routes with Cam still in the game? Who is behind Gindorff and Stoffel in the TE rotation?
Over to Code Green, Drake should not score on our starting rotational mix (our two deep). My first look on defense will be when Jaxon Duttenhefer is in the game at DT. He needs to dominate at the line of scrimmage. His real test will come against the Wildcats of Arizona. I haven’t had these expectations at DT since Nate Tanguay’s redshirt freshman year in 2014. Second, I want to see the LB play. Do they know their assignments and do they flow to the ball? Lastly I want to see how Dylan Hendricks plays. Entz has been heaping a lot of praise on this Bison who was injured for both the spring 2020 and last fall (rehabbing). They moved Dylan from LB to DE. Kramer has him up to 250 lbs at 6’3”. If he is the next “breakthrough at DE”, he could provide a lot of matchup problems. Being a former LB he has skills in dropping back into pass coverage. From a DE, this allows Braun to blitz a LB or DB. As I stated in my preseason analysis, this year’s Code Green will be as good as last years.
In the Special Team arena, we should only return a kickoff once (shut out baby!!). We should have as many as ten kickoff coverage opportunities. Here you can test the up and comers. It would be fine with me if Steindorf didn’t punt for the whole game. On the other hand we could have 8-10 punt return chances. Give Price half of them and the rest go to some newbie’s.
Finally, after 60 years, we get a chance to beat the Drake Bulldogs. We last played them in 1962 (a 0-10 year). We played them once before in 1955 and lost that one as well. Saturday, I am expecting a BIG first victory for the Herd! Go Bison!