Last week was as ugly as it was surprising. I was only off by 45 points (predicted a three score win). First and foremost we haven’t faced what it feels like to lose since the fall of 2017. Yes we have been that good. So we need to be thankful at all levels (players, coaches and program) that have allowed us so much dominant football.
What happened? I am not going to super analyze this. We got our butts kicked. The 33 game streak ended in a similar fashion versus UNI in 2014. They flat out kicked our butt in that game too. Lest we go looking for Hemlock to drink, we have made many an MVFC and playoff opponent experience the same thing. We’ve pounded SDSU in the playoffs 38-10 and 44-21. Do we look at the Jack’s as a bad team? How about the last two years with the Panthers, 56-31 and 46-14. Do we think Farley’s defenses stink? Hardly, we just file it in the Herd played exceptionally well against a very good team. Something we do quite often.
Covid hurt the Bison this year flat out. This has interfered with the player development side of the equation. I know of NO TEAM that has only gotten one year out of a 1st round QB pick. If Trey would have been coming out in the normal after Jr. Year scenario, the Herd would have had two studs vying for the QB job (Cam Miller versus Cole Payton). We only got two years from Radunz (he missed red shirt freshman year with knee injury). No senior year from Schoening, Biegler, Mercadel, Alo, Cofield, Heit, Pauly and Kelly. Did I think our replacements would rise to the occasion? Yes, but they shouldn’t have had too.
Enough on the past, what about Mo. State? All snickering about Bobby Petrino’s off field activities with a young Coed aside, he was a very good football coach at the FBS level. He knows talent and how to win. He was left with an empty cupboard with the Bears, so he loaded up with transfers and Jucos. He also wisely scheduled three games in the fall, the key games being a home and away series with Central Arkansas.
I am big on common opponent comparisons. Mo. State played Central every bit as even as the Bison did. They were ahead in the first game 17-7 at half and out played Arkansas. It was Turn Over’s that lost the game, Minus two (4 to 2). In the second game the same lack of ball control lost it again. Mo. State was minus six in TO’s (4 INT’s & 2 fumbles) and only lost 33-24 after leading 24-17 at the half. They out gained Central in total yardage as well. You never win when you’re minus six in TO’s. For the game to be so close in score shows Mo. State would have won if not for the TO’s.
Summary, the Herd struggled with Central in the fall with Trey, Cofield, Radunz, etc. So if the Herd shows up thinking they drew a break by getting a weak team in the Bears, they will lose. Mo State broke a ten game losing skid last week versus Western IL. So the taste of winning is back and beating a wounded Bison squad would be a major win for the program.
The Bison have more questions than answers right now. An average passing attack shredded them. Is this an aberration or who they are as this year’s version of Code Green? We have always progressed during the season on defense in year’s past, so I feel the talent and coaching is there to turn this around on defense.
The two biggest questions to me are QB and the running back room. Zeb looks old, slow and indecisive. Having to bring in Cam Miller as the “running QB” telegraphs your playbook and isn’t a real viable solution, especially against good teams. Johnson & Bussey are lightning in a bottle, but where is the “big back” thunder? We have to get Luepke back and Gonnella has to grow up quick or the Bison pound and ground game is on hold.
What’s going to happen Saturday? Remember back when the 33 game streak ended? We played Mo State the next week. After a slow start Carson broke it open. We don’t have Carson, but an unknown at QB, so we are in uncharted waters in Bisonville. They are still a damn good football team. They will have to develop on the fly. They have done it before and here’s to pulling for them to do it again. Go Bison!!