Aaron Ziemer

Northern Sun Week 3 Preview

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.
Minnesota Crookston (1-1) at Minnesota State (1-1)

Last Year: 42-3 Minnesota State

It appears that the University of Minnesota Crookston has made some progress under first year head coach Chuck Moller. First off, Richard Haley was over 150 yards rushing in his first two weeks of the season. Through two weeks, he has rushed for 379 yards on the ground and a touchdown and has certainly reignited that Golden Eagle ground game for the first time since R.J. Rollins.

Off a 35-24 loss to Wayne State last week, there are certainly a lot of positives for Crookston. The Golden Eagles moved the ball for 262 yards on the ground and it appears that Aj Barge has given the Golden Eagles another offensive threat at quarterback. He has been adequate throwing the ball, but is dangerous on the ground as he rushed for 96 yards and a pair of touchdown , but the big problem for Crookston last week was that they were 4 of 16 on third down conversions. In fact, the problem is more than one game, Crookston was just 3 of 11 in their first game of the season against Mayville State, making them just 7 for 27 on third downs so far this season. That is a stat that has to improve for Crookston.

On the other side of the ball, Minnesota State is 1-1, but unlike the Golden Eagles the Mavericks are 20/32 on third down, which has allowed them to keep moving the football consistently through two games.

Last week, Andy Pfeiffer rushed for 111 yards on 14 carries, while Jon Daniels had an efficient first day, he was 13 of 16 236 yards and a touchdown, to lead the Mavericks against Northern State. Dennis Carter found a new way into the endzone with his first career rushing touchdown. While LaMark Brown did most of his damage catching passes this week he caught four passes for 95 yards and a touchdown. The Kansas State transfer scored on a 70-yard touchdown from Daniels.

The match up to watch though in this one will be between the Golden Eagle offense and the Maverick defense. We mentioned Crookston's struggles on third down against Mayville and Wayne State, I think they could have some big difficulties with a Maverick unit which has only allowed opponents to convert on 10-third downs all season.

Look for the Mavericks to win this one by a comfortable margin on Saturday.

Minnesota Duluth (2-0) at Wayne State (1-1)

Last Year: 42-10, Minnesota Duluth

Through two weeks the Wayne State Wildcats have given up 780-yards on the ground. Now, 518 of it, came in the season opener against Nebraska Kearney, so giving up 262 yards on the ground to Minnesota Crookston is actually a bit of an improvement? Only statistically speaking I am afraid, because if you look a little further at the numbers from that game if you take out sack yardage, the Golden Eagles actually rushed the ball for 289 yards.

It gets worse though, after Kearney's Jake Spitzelberger ran for 288 yards against Wayne, Crookston quarterback Aj Barge ran for 121 (before sack yardage). What is going to happen when Chace Vogler, one of the most mobile quarterbacks in the Northern Sun comes in, along with a Bulldog team known for its power running style.

Minnesota Duluth last week used a three pronged run attack. Zach Hulce rushed seven times for 118 yards and a touchdown in the game, Brian Lucas, who was over 100 yards in the season opener rushed 10 times for 52 yards, and Austin Sikorski scored two touchdowns and rushed for 40 yards. That could be problematic for the Wildcats.

The Bulldogs Northern Sun winning streak is now at 31-games, I really don't see anything to make me think it won't reach 32. I am going to take Minnesota Duluth.

Extra Point: There is not a single player on the Bulldog roster who has ever lost a Northern Sun Football game.

MSU Moorhead (1-1) at Upper Iowa (1-1)

Last Year: 28-24 MSU Moorhead

Upper Iowa comes off a loss to Minnesota Duluth, not really a huge surprise, but certainly there are some positives to take out of that game for the Peacocks. In fact, they outgained the Bulldogs in total offense, rolling up 458 yards and 22 points against Minnesota Duluth.

Freshman running back Chris Smith led the Peacock rushing attack carrying the ball 15-times for 133 yards, including a 69-yard touchdown in the game. Smith also had 15 carries against Texas A&M Commerce, but he didn't have the success. He rushed just 15-times for 24-yards. His emergence certainly would help the Peacocks have another weapon. But what Upper Iowa really needs is consistency from the quarterback position, and maybe just maybe Cole Jaeschke could prove to be that. He completed 19 fo 29 passes for 231 yards in the game.

Minnesota State Moorhead's game with Winona State turned out pretty much how we thought it would, a big win for Winona. However, there is a little reason for optimism in Moorhead, Kendall hendon hauled in a 50-yard touchdown pass in the game from Kevin Koch. That was certainly the highlight of the offensive unit from the week that did tally more than 300-yards of total offense. Problem was, Winona put up 502 yards, and 298 on the ground.

Last year this was a good one, in Moorhead the Dragons got out with a four point win. I just don't see that happening for them on the road, I will side with the Peacocks to pull out the victory.

Extra Point: I am looking for a big day from Peacock wide receiver Jesse Hubbard. He caught 12 passes for 114 yards in the game agaisnt the Dragons last year.

Northern State (1-1) at Concordia (1-1)

Last Year: 27-17, Concordia

Obviously things didn't turn out last week in St. Cloud like Concordia was hoping for, falling to the Huskies 41-13. There certainly was some reason for that, one St. Cloud State is pretty good, but two Concordia's quarterback situation got a bit more perplexing last week.

Let me recap it quickly for you, Golden Bear starting quarterback Spencer Ohm was injured a foot during the pre-season, he missed the first two games and is out on Saturday as well. James Peterson who had looked good in some spot starts for the Golden Bears also was hurt last week against the Huskies, that left redshirt freshman Jared Russo facing a Top 10 Division II football team's whose defense loves to create turnovers.

And that they did to the young Russo, who threw five interceptions in the game.

Things maybe aren't as settled in Aberdeen though as they appeared to be after a decisive win over Southwest Minnesota State to open the season. Last week, the the Wolves were dismantled by Minnesota State. Quarterback Nick Wanner who completed 10 of 12 passes against the Mustangs, completed 10 passes against the Mavericks as well, he just threw 23 passes instead of 12.

Concordia isn't saying anything on the status of James Peterson, that leads me to believe that his status for the game is very much in doubt. Without an official announcement yet, I have to believe that the Golden Bears will make a game time decision. With Russo struggling with turnovers last week, the stat to watch is that turnover column. The Wolves showed Southwest they will blitz a young quarterback to force mistakes, I expect if Russo starts you can expect to see a lot of heavy blitzes coming after the young quarterback. Northern has the secondary to take a few passes away, if they do that, they could pull out an upset here.

But I think I will have to go with the Golden Bears, I just don't know if there is anyone in the league who can cover Charles Gilbert, and given a week of practice, I think that will be enough time to make even a redshirt freshman a little more comfortable.

I will take Concordia.

I will preview the final three games tomorrow!

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Updated 09-14-2011 at 11:33 PM by Aaron Ziemer

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  1. Herdman's Avatar
    UIU dropped the Mizzu Spread for the Pistol and does a nice job controlling the TOP. They use two TBs, the true Freshman was mentioned by Aaron, the other is a more physical, speed back, most NSIC fans know who he is. They also use a FB and TEs in this offense, FINALLY! The biggest surprise though out of Fayette is the defense. Tons of guy maken plays on that side of the ball. DL is getting pressure up field. LBs are making solid tackles and the DBs are covering guys. It's a fun bunch to watch.
  2. Herdman's Avatar

    The youth explosion in Fayette has hit the Sports Information Office as well. They don't discuss any of the upperclassmen who are getting the job done along with the young guns who are a part of helping this team play better football and win games.