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Jeff Kolpack, Published December 13 2013

Bison defense prepares for Chanticleers’ up-tempo offense

FARGO – North Dakota State has faced plenty of teams this season who have come into the Bison game with impressive offensive statistics. Perhaps no team has been as prolific as Coastal Carolina.

The Chanticleers come to Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome third in the FCS in the statistic that counts the most: scoring offense. They’re averaging 42.9 points a game and that includes getting 10 against South Carolina, ranked 11th in the FBS.

Coastal doesn’t mess around, either, when it have the ball.

“The challenge is that they’re a high up-tempo offense and they snap the ball around 30 seconds or so on the play clock,” said Bison safety Christian Dudzik. “So the issue that is going to occur for us is we have to get lined up.”

Dudzik said that was a problem Montana had last week in a 42-35 Coastal win in the second round.

The Chanticleers will bring a run-pass potent attack led by quarterback Alex Ross and running back Lorenzo Taliaferro. The sophomore Ross is 12-2 as a starter and is sixth in the FCS in passing effiency.

He had 325 yards of total offense against the Grizzlies, rushing for a career-high 123 and was 16 of 21 passing for 202 yards and three touchdowns.

Taliaferro is second in the FCS in scoring, averaging two touchdowns a game and has set 12 single-season schools records this year.

“Anytime somebody can run the football, whatever formation they deploy, poses problems,” said NDSU head coach Craig Bohl. “It puts the defense in a run-pass conflict.”

Crockett could join Ojuri in 1,000 club

NDSU running back John Crockett needs 53 yards to join teammate Sam Ojuri in the 1,000-yard rushing club. The junior didn’t do much last week to at least get closer to the milestone with 14 yards rushing against Furman.

Ojuri has 1,077 yards. Both backs cracked 1,000 last year, and to do it back-to-back would be somewhat rare for any duo.

“That’s pretty cool when two running backs can do that,” Crockett said. “That’s my goal, to be part of that club. Both of us want to be part of that club.”

Crockett said Coastal Carolina’s offensive prowess has not been lost on the Bison offense, which he says bares a lot of the responsibility today.

“The defense has had our back so many times that we understand we have to step up to the plate,” he said. “We understand that because they are a fast-paced offense. They’re gun-slingers. We’re more methodical and we know we have to help the defense out.”

Bison get call for first game on ESPN

The last time NDSU played in an 11 a.m. game was 2007 at the University of Minnesota. That resulted in a 27-21 Bison win that many consider a signature win in program history.

This week, NDSU players were encouraged by coaches to get to bed earlier and wake up earlier to help get use to the early game time.

“Oh, that’s early, I’m going to be tired,” joked Crockett. “No, it’s going to be fun. I’m happy to get out there early and see how everything pans out.”

The Gophers game was at 11 a.m. because of the Big Ten Network schedule. Today’s game will be the first time NDSU will be on ESPN.

Previous ESPN games have either been on ESPN2, such as the last two FCS title games, or one of the other channels like ESPNU or ESPN GamePlan.

“It’s exciting to play on ESPN, but at the same time, you still have to play the game,” Crockett said. “There are more people watching, that’s all.”

Nebraska represented on both sides

There is a University of Nebraska flavor to the coaching matchups today starting, of course, with NDSU head coach Craig Bohl. He played and later was the defensive coordinator with the Cornhuskers.

Meanwhile, Coastal Carolina head coach Joe Moglia spent two years as a volunteer assistant with Nebraska in 2009-10 when he decided to get back into coaching.

“I don’t have this job without the support of Tom Osborne and Bo Pelini,” he said, referring to the former athletic director and current head coach.

Defensive coordinator Clayton Carlin was a graduate assistant at Nebraska from 1994-96, the last two when Bohl was the Cornhuskers’ linebacker coach. And CCU linebackers coach Doug Colman played for Nebraska at about that same time.


Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia