Game 9 Preview: South Dakota
Last Time vs The Coyotes
GREELEY, Colo. - All season, the Bears had the mantra of finish strong. Both the Northern Colorado offense and defense held to that with big plays in the fourth quarter for a 21-17 victory over former North Central Conference rival South Dakota. For the third time, receiver Alex Thompson surpassed 100 reception yards, catching seven passes for 109 yards and his sixth touchdown of the year. Wide receiver Jace Davis also caught his first career touchdown, a 24-yard pass from quarterback Bryan Waggener. He ended the day with three catches for 58 yards. Waggener completed 21-of-32 passes for 281 yards with no interceptions and no sacks. Running back Andre Harris carried the ball 19 times for 57 yards with one touchdown, the final go ahead score on a one yard run with 5:20 in the fourth quarter. Safety Max Hewitt and linebacker Logan Zabel each tallied an interception in the game and linebacker John Eddy had 11 tackles and a sack to help lead the defense.
Saturday will be the only time this season the Bears will play in a dome. Last year, the Bears were 1-1 in indoor football games, defeating Idaho State 30-7 and losing 35-27 at Northern Arizona. Of the six domes in FCS football, the Bears have played in five (UNI-Dome), posting an all-time record of 19-41, with a 9-7 mark in Vermillion.
Keeping It Close
In three of the four games against ranked FCS opponents this season, the Bears have lost by a touchdown or less, falling by three at Weber State (50-47), seven to Eastern Washington (35-28) and two at Montana State (37-35). Against Montana, Northern Colorado lost by 23 (30-7).
Back On Track
After scoring just seven points in each of three straight games (Michigan State, Montana, Sacramento State), the Bears have put at least three points on the board in seven of the last eight quarters. Northern Colorado started the season scoring in each of the first 12 quarters of play. The team is averaging 27.5 points per game, the highest average since the 2003 team averaged 38.6. The highest team scoring average was 43.5 points per game by the undefeated 1969 team.
Against The Coyotes
Below is a look at what some of the current Bears have done in their careers against the Coyotes: Andre Harris has 57 rushing yards and 76 all purpose yards... Jace Davis has three catches for 58 yards... Harris and Davis also each have one touchdown... Cameron Kaman averages 40.8 yards per punt... John Eddy has 11 tackles and a sack, while Korey Askew has nine tackles... Max Hewitt has an interception and Ethan Davis has a pass breakup.
Doing The Little Things
Despite the 2-6 record, the 2010 team has shown vast improvement from previous seasons. The Bears are averaging 133.4 rushing yards per game, the highest average since 2005 (135.5). The passing efficiency of 132.9 is the highest since 2003 (153.0). The 13 rushing touchdowns are the most since the 2003 team scored 29 and the 15 fumble recoveries are the most since 2003 had the same total. The Bears are averaging 23.8 yards per punt return, the best average since 2004 (28.2) and this year's 21.5 kickoff return average is the best since 2001 (22.9). Also, the 2010 team is averaging 38.6 yards per punt, the best since the 2007 squad averaged 40.0.
Scouting South Dakota
The Coyotes are 3-5 and have dropped their last three games. South Dakota is 1-2 in the Great West Conference and they have a 2-1 mark at home. The Coyotes are averaging 140.1 rushing yards and 202.0 passing yards per game. Chris Ganious leads the team averaging 70.1 rushing yards, while quarterback Dante Warren averages 41.9 yards on the ground and 191.5 yards through the air. Warren's favorite target is Will Powell, who averages 73.5 yards per game on 32 receptions and he has a team-best seven touchdowns. Defensively, Adam Broders leads with 66 tackles, while Shea Williams is second with 65 and a team-best three sacks.
For the first time all year, NC used a different defensive lineup against Montana State due to injuries. The Bears used the same lineup in the first seven games on defense, while 17 players have started on offense.
Northern Colorado has five players on the team who have started in at least 20 games. Safety Max Hewitt leads the team with 30 straight starts, while defensive end Ethan Davis has started in 28 and center Tim McGraw 25. Both cornerback Korey Askew and linebacker John Eddy have 24 starts, as does junior offensive guard Alex Shapiro.
In the Big Sky Conference preseason polls, both the coaches and media selected the Bears to finish in seventh place. In the coaches poll the team received 19 points, while they garnered 128 in the media poll.
Northern Colorado is 5-3 all-time in games played on October 30 and 1-3 on the road. The Bears haven't played on the 30th since 1999 when they won 39-3 at St. Cloud State.
Schools From South Dakota
Northern Colorado holds a 59-32 all-time record against teams from the state of South Dakota. The Bears are 20-4 against Augustana, 20-13 vs South Dakota, 18-15 vs South Dakota State and 1-0 against South Dakota Tech.
A Win Would...
• tie last season's win total of three.
• be the first road win of the year.
• be the third straight over South Dakota.
• give the Bears a 2-1 non-conference record for the second-straight year.
News & Notes
• Northern Colorado was awarded the inaugural Football Championship Subdivision Athletics Directors Association Academic Progress Rate (APR) Award. The Bears were honored as the Big Sky Conference's highest APR in 2008-09.
• A total of 15 players on the team have birthdays during the season. Dominic Gunn (9/5), Devontae Chapple (9/9), Josh Morton (9/12), Lexington Smith (9/19), AJ Moosa (9/26), Coy Letlow (9/27), Jonathan Martin (9/28), Matt King (9/29), Jake Schalamon (10/3), Aaron Belle (10/6), Cody Harter (10/15), Cody Gilmore (10/16), Ethan Davis & Curtis Truett (10/20) and Alex Shapiro (11/6) will all celebrate during the year.
• The Big Sky recently announced Cal Poly and UC Davis will both join the league as football-only members.
• The Big Sky dropped from first to second among FCS conferences in this week's Sagarin Ratings, but remained ahead of two FBS conferences. The CAA returned to the top spot among FCS leagues after the Big Sky held the position the past two weeks. The CAA is 11th overall, followed by the Big Sky.
The Bears had several milestones against Montana State.
• John Eddy, Marcus Felker and Derek Palmer all recovered fumbles in the game, the first of the season for all three.
• Junior Brandon Owens, in his first start for the Bears, notched a career-best with 11 tackles. He had six in the first half, passing his previous best of five at Sacramento State.
• Senior safety Max Hewitt had his second interception of the season and 11th of his career, stopping a Montana State drive in the final minute of the first half. Hewitt now ranks 11th in Northern Colorado school history with 11 picks.
• Junior receiver Patrick Walker surpassed the 1,000 career reception yards mark, catching a pass over the middle for 33 yards in the third quarter. He ended the game with three catches for 72 yards for 1,063 career receiving yards.
• Junior quarterback Dylan Orms threw for a career-best 344 yards on the afternoon, surpassing his previous career best of 233 yards at Weber State. His 344 yards is the 12th best total in school history.
Playing On Sundays
Northern Colorado currently has three players in the NFL, Reed Doughty (2001-05) with the Washington Redskins, Vincent Jackson (2000-04) with the San Diego Chargers and Aaron Smith (1994-98) with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
• Doughty notched two tackles in a victory at Chicago.
• Jackson is a restricted free agent.
• Smith had his 400th career tackle in the Steelers win at Miami.
Sophomore wide receiver Jace Davis caught eight passes for 207 yards and two touchdowns against Montana State. His 207 yards is the 10th best single-game total in school history and the most since the Bears joined the Big Sky Conference in 2006. It is also the first 200-plus receiving game this season in the Big Sky and he is the first player since 2007 to have 200-plus yards in a conference contest. Davis' 207 yards is also the third-highest total in Bobcat Stadium history.
Sophomore wide receiver Jace Davis has now caught at least one pass in the last 12 games. Davis leads the team with 38 catches for 685 yards in 2010 and he is second in the Big Sky with 85.6 reception yards per game. His 12 straight games also ties for the sixth longest streak (Brandon Smith) since the Bears began the transition to Division I in 2004. Andy Birkel holds the Division I record with 23 straight games.
In the last two games, both receivers Jace Davis and Dominic Gunn have thrown passes. Davis hit fellow receiver Patrick Walker for a 30-yard touchdown against Eastern Washington. Last week, Gunn completed a 20-yard pass to quarterback Dylan Orms. Davis is the first non-quarterback to throw a touchdown for the Bears since the team began the transition to Division I.
Best In The Big Sky
The Bears are third in passing efficiency in the Big Sky at 132.9. Senior running back Andre Harris is tied for second in scoring (TDs) with 7.7 points per game and tied for fourth in overall scoring. He is also seventh in rushing yards per game at 70.6. Sophomore wide receiver Jace Davis ranks second in receiving yards per game (85.6) and is fifth with 4.8 catches a contest. Junior quarterback Dylan Orms is fifth in passing (187.9) and sixth in total offense (208.1).
Tossing For Touchdowns
Northern Colorado has at least one passing touchdown in all eight games this season, and in the last nine. The Bears have 15 passing touchdowns, which ties the 2008 team for the most passing TDs since joining the Big Sky.
What A Rush
The Bears have also rushed for 13 touchdowns this season, which is the most for a Northern Colorado team since the 2003 squad rushed for 29. Senior running back Andre Harris has eight of the team's rushing touchdowns, which is a new team Division I record, bettering his own total of seven from last year.
Among The Best
In the NCAA statistics, Northern Colorado currently ranks 34th in scoring offense (27.5) and 38th in passing offense (219.63). Individually, Jace Davis is up to 16th in the nation in receiving yards per game (85.62). Andre Harris is tied for 20th in scoring (7.7) and Dylan Orms is 39th in passing efficiency (128.02) and 41st in total offense (208.14)
• Junior quarterback Dylan Orms needs just 63 yards for 2,000 career yards in total offense.
• Sophomore Jace Davis needs 147 yards for 1,000 all purpose yards in his career and is 152 yards shy of 1,000 receiving yards.
• Senior Andre Harris needs two points to score 100 and is 85 yards shy of 1,500 all purpose yards.
• Junior Patrick Walker needs six yards for 1,500 all purpose yards.
• Senior Jhamele Robinson also needs just 149 yards for 1,000 all purpose yards.
SPECIAL TEAMS NOTES
For the second-straight game, sophomore Dominic Gunn tallied over 100 kickoff return yards. At Montana State he had five returns for 115 yards, one week after tallying the second-highest total in Northern Colorado history with 151 yards against Eastern Washington. Gunn now has 566 career kickoff return yards, which ranks ninth all-time in school history. He is just nine yards shy of taking over eighth and 18 yards from seventh on the school's charts.
50 or Bust
Junior punter Cameron Kaman has a punt of 50 or more yards in nine of the last 10 games in which he's played. In his career, Kaman has 24 punts of 50 yards or longer and he currently ranks 14th among active punters in total punting yards.
On special teams this season, the Bears have made 59 tackles. Redshirt freshman Gavin Miller leads the team with seven tackles, while both Marcel Gibbons and Chuks Nweke have six. A total of 19 different players have made at least one stop.
• Senior Korey Askew needs just four tackles for 150 in his career.
• Junior Nick Hernon needs seven for 100 in his career, while senior Ethan Davis is eight from the same total.
Picking It Up
Against Montana State, three different players had their first fumble recovery of the season, as seniors John Eddy and Derek Palmer and junior Marcus Felker each picked up a loose ball. The Bears have had 11 different players recover at least one fumble this season as the team has 15 in eight games. In the Big Sky statistics, VJ Holmes (3), Korey Askew (2) and Elliott Dorsey (2) all rank among the top 10 in fumbles recovered, while Ethan Davis (3) ranks fourth in fumbles forced.
Shining In Start
Junior Brandon Owens had his first start on Saturday at Montana State and made it a good one, more than doubling his previous career-high of five tackles with 11. Owens also had a pass break-up in the end zone during the fourth quarter. While at Colorado State, Owens had nine total tackles in 2008 and 13 in 2009, with a single-game best of five against Colorado in the 2009 opener.
Pick A Pass
Senior safety Max Hewitt tallied the 11th interception of his career at Montana State, which now ties him for 11th all-time. It was Hewitt's second interception of the season. Senior cornerback Korey Askew leads the team with three as the Bears have seven on the year.
Among The Best
Northern Colorado currently leads all of Division I (both FBS & FCS) with 15 fumbles recovered and is 16th in overall turnover margin at 0.88 among FCS teams. The Bears 22 turnovers gained this season is tied for sixth among FCS teams and eighth among all of Division I.
Paper Or Plastic?
With two sacks at Montana State, senior linebacker John Eddy is now tied for sixth all-time on the Northern Colorado career list with 19.5 sacks. His total is third among active FCS players, trailing only Grant Hunter from Butler (25.5) and Dain Taylor from Drake (22).
Several Bears have recorded double figures in tackles this season. Senior linebacker John Eddy and Matt King currently lead the team with 72 and 54 tackles, respectively.
• John Eddy: 15 at Weber State
10 at Michigan State
10 vs Montana
11 at Sacramento State
• Matt King: 12 at Weber State
10 vs Idaho State
11 at Sacramento State
• Korey Askew: 10 at Weber State
• Brandon Owens: 11 at Montana State