The Trey Lance and Matt Entz era has arrived as the herd rolls
I was in an argument in an Instagram comment section recently. I was arguing that if NDSU was in the SEC, they could compete and win a lot of games. I was making points such as the fact NDSU has consistently beaten and sometimes dominated FBS competition, has been churning out NFL talent, and has been so well coached that their last two-head coaches ended up finding jobs at Power-5 schools.
The person I was arguing with had no points other than the fact that he ‘understands football’ and that teams like Tennessee (who lost their opener to Sun Belt’s Georgia State) and Arkansas (beat FCS opponent Portland State by just 7 at home) are ‘loaded with talent.’
I hope he was watching the NDSU and Butler game on Saturday. Even though they didn’t know it, the herd had my back. The Bison beat Butler 57-10, and the game was even more one-sided than the score suggests. The Bison took what they wanted on offense and wreaked so much havoc on defense it became easy to feel bad for the Bulldogs.
Target Field was packed with fans before kickoff. It should be noted that this was a ‘neutral sight’ game, but there was nothing neutral about it. Outside of a small group of Butler fans along the left field line, it was a sea of green and gold.
The Bison established their presence on the games very first drive. After a few first downs, new Bison QB Lance took off for a 33-yard TD, breaking a tackle along the way for his first of six total touchdowns on the day. The score was capped off by a successful two-point conversion on a option flip from free safety James Hendricks to Jake Reinolz.
On Butler’s first offensive snap, it was clear it would be a long day. Bison defensive end Derrek Tuszka laid the boom on Butler RB Kavon Samuels. Some said that Samuel’s soul could actually be seen leaving his body after the hit. Butler ended their drive with a punt (a common theme throughout the day.)
The herd’s second drive only took two plays, one of which was the play of the day. Lance dropped one from the clouds to Phoenix Sproles 47 yards downfield for a touchdown, Lance putting the ball in a place only Sproles could get it. As good as the throw was, Sprole’s ability to track the ball down might have been even better. When coach Entz was asked after the game if the throw or catch was better he responded with a smile “I plead the fifth…I’m not gonna pick sides today.”
A few possessions later was able to find Josh Babicz in the middle of the endzone for another score, putting the herd up 22-0 with 11 minutes left in the second quarter. The route was officially on.
On the ensuing possession after Butler was forced to punt, Lance made another nice throw over a defender’s shoulder to Noah Gindoff for another score.
On the first play of the next possession Hendricks, one of many Bison players who flashed on the day, was able to step in front of a pass from Butler QB Sam Brown, giving the herd the ball on a short field. The Bison made their way to the Butler three, where Lance was able to find Babicz again, putting the score at 36-0 right before half. The fat lady was singing.
Butler was finally able to gain some success on offense at the start of the second half, putting together a nice drive that ended in a field goal. This was followed by a scoop and score for Butler’s Nick Mahalak after a fumble by Ty Brooks on the first offensive play of the half for the herd. The fumble would prove to be one of the few miscues for the Bison all day.
A Ty Brooks 36-yard touchdown here, and a 61-yard Trey Lance touchdown sprint there, and the lead was 50-10. Lance was really able to showcase his speed on his 61-yard scamper. When I asked Lance after the game if he could beat Easton Stick in footrace, he laughed and said, “Not yet, he looks like he’s moving on TV.” Personally, I think he was just being humble.
Kobe Johnson and Saybein Clark were able to tote the rock for the Bison in the fourth, and they made it count. Johnson showcase his speed and cutting ability, and Clark was able to get in on the fun with a 7-yard touchdown run of his own.
When he won the quarterback competition, Trey Lance was given the keys to a Ferrari, his only job being not to crash it. Lance finished the day going 10-11 for 185 yards and four touchdowns through the air while gaining 123 yards with two more scores on the ground. Oh, and he was taken out before the end of the third quarter. Is that good? It’s safe to say the Ferrari is flying down the interstate in pristine condition.
Although it has only been one week, the Bison have put the rest of the FCS on notice. They are still the team to beat. With the team from up north set to come to the Fargodome next week, the herd will look to build on their success.
And to the guy from the comment section, I hope you had to work on Labor Day Monday.