Recently I got a chance to talk with NDSU Beat Writer Jeff Kolpack of The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead about his take on the Bison this season. His comments on various topics are below. You can find his blog here.
Recent Program History:
They were really good in '06 and '07 going 10-1 both years. Last year was supposed to be their year. They had 8 guys from that team that got pro looks of some-sort, I think 3 or 4 are still in NFL camps, one guy got drafted, and they went 6-5 last year. So that was a huge, huge letdown last year. Last year was their first year eligible for the playoffs in FCS. Everybody in Fargo was thinking last year was going to be the year and it turned out to be a big disappointment.
I'd say the offensive line, and on defense, Gratzek and Fairbairn in the middle. Other than that, it's a pretty new team.
A lot of question marks at Linebacker, Defensive Backfield, Receiver, Quarterback's unproven for the most part (Mertens).
I look at this team as 6-5 would be a really good year. They're not nearly as talented as they were last year....
Of the teams the last four years, this is the worst.
(Thoughts on the ISU game after the jump)
Bison fan's thoughts about the game against Iowa State:
This Division I stuff is still pretty new, so it's a pretty big deal, I think around here. As far as the game, I don't think anybody has any expectations like they did the previous years. I think if they somehow make a game of it, it would be considered a moral victory of sorts. I don't think anybody has any illusions that they are going to go in there and do what they did to the Gophers; this team just isn't as talented as the '07 team.
What to look for from the Bison Offense:
They gotta try to run the ball. The only way for a I-AA to stay with a I-A is you gotta somehow be physical with them, so I'm sure they'll try to run it. Especially because the passing game is, shall we say, "not very good right now". Nobody knows what to expect with the passing game. If I were Iowa State, if I could throw 38 people in the box on the line of scrimmage I would do that.
What do look for from the Bison Defense:
They play the Tampa 2 for the most part... I think the defense will be decent, pretty good. Arnaud looks like the kind of guy who could slice up this defense up pretty good. As far as the other games, I think the defense will do pretty well, but against Iowa State, I don't know. I see the Cyclones having a pretty good day against this team right now.
Playmakers to watch for (besides guys already mentioned):
Pashall is pretty good (the running back). He's a Senior. He's got a lot of talent, and is good enough to play in a major conference.
Impact of the suspensions:
It'll be huge. Shamen Washington is one of the top returners in the country, in I-AA. This guy has got "All-American" all over him. That's huge. He's their gamechanger. To not have him in this kind of game will be huge.
Garret Johnson, starting defensive end I think is a very good player, that will hurt a lot not having him. The other guy is a backup quarterback so that will be irrelevant.
Iowa State game prediction:
I would say 2 years ago, I'd see the Bison being favored, last year I see it as an even game, and this year I see Iowa State winning by 2 or 3 touchdowns, minimum.
Thanks again to Jeff Kolpack for giving his thoughts on the Bison!