Bison moving on from loss; start conference play

Visit USD for the first time since ‘18

Following a tough loss last Saturday in Tucson, Ariz., to the Arizona Wildcats, the Bison will jump straight into conference play this weekend. This Saturday, the Bison will make the trip to Vermillion, S.D., to take on the South Dakota Coyotes. The Bison haven’t made the trip to Vermillion since 2018 when they walloped the Coyotes 59-14. For most Bison players, this will mark the first time they play in the DakotaDome. The Bison and Coyotes were scheduled to meet in Vermillion in the Spring of 2021, but due to Covid-19, the game was canceled.

North Dakota State is coming off a stinging defeat to Arizona last week where missed opportunities by the Bison may have been the deciding factor in the game. NDSU is focusing on staying locked into its goals and putting the loss behind them.

“We were all kind of stung by it, but our thing is that our real season starts now. We start the Missouri Valley this weekend so making the team understand that our goals are still there,” Bison tailback Kobe Johnson said. “Making sure they understand that’s not the big goal right there. Everybody wants to win that game, but our bigger goals are still ahead of us.”

With the Bison starting conference play it is worth mentioning that before 2022, the last time NDSU went from a non-conference game to Missouri Valley play without a bye week was 2010.

“If I could, probably right after the non-conference (games). Would be great just because it does give you a chance to kind of reevaluate,” Entz elaborated about scheduling the team’s bye week. “It’s easier said than done with the way scheduling is, finding games. We don’t necessarily always have that convenience.”

Also to note, the last time the Bison went from a non-conference road game to a conference road game in two consecutive weeks was back in 2008. In that two-game stretch, the Bison dropped both games to Wyoming and Youngstown State respectively which is something they cannot afford to do again. In his weekly press conference, Coach Entz said the Bison cannot allow one loss to turn into another.

“The thing we cannot allow to happen is that this loss turns into a second one because we’re not prepared, we’re not putting the amount of energy into the next opponent as we did the previous one.”

That being said, the Bison have still had great success against the Coyotes. Since being defeated by South Dakota in 2015, the Bison have won their last five matchups against the Coyotes, four of which by at least 28 points. The Bison had great success offensively in last year’s matchup against the Coyotes in all regards. The Bison ran for over 300 yards for the fifth straight time against South Dakota and quarterback Cam Miller also set a career-high in passing yards with 219 yards. One of the leaders in the locker room and in the backfield, Kobe Johnson, has had great success against South Dakota in the past and is looking to continue to make contributions to the team whenever he’s called upon.

NDSU running back Kobe Johnson | Photo Credit NDSU Athletics

“Whatever the coaches have a game plan for. It’s more of a game-time feel,” Johnson stated on the possibility of an expanded role. “If Hunter is getting the ball, he’s tearing it, let’s keep feeding him. If I’m getting the ball, let’s keep it moving.”

The Bison defense, however, will certainly have their hands full this weekend. The Coyotes and seventh-year head coach Bob Nielson picked up their first win of the season last Saturday over Cal Poly by a score of 38-21. The Coyote offense accumulated over 500 total yards of offense last week led by quarterback Carson Camp and a variety of playmakers including running back Travis Theis, wide receivers Carter Bell and Wesley Eliodor, along with tight end JJ Galbreath.

Led by last week’s leading tackler James Kaczor, the Bison defense will need to be able to slow down a South Dakota offense that scored four touchdowns of 40+ yards last week.

“I think that they’re a very well-coached football team. I think they have some talented kids on offense and both their backs were really impressive as well.” Entz said.

Kickoff from Vermillion, South Dakota will be at 1:00 p.m. and will be televised on the statewide ABC network of WDAY-TV.

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