Earlier this week I jumped on a call with AM 970 out of Fargo North Dakota to talk a little NDSU Bison vs. Kansas Football. The host for the show Jeff Kolpack also writes for The Forum of Fargo-Moorehead and covers all things Bison both there and on his blog for the same organization.
Jeff was kind enough to return the favor and give us a quick perspective for our new opposing viewpoint series which will interview and talk about the upcoming Jayhawk opponent for the week.
Today, Jeff Kolpack and five quick questions with Rock Chalk Talk.
What are the general preseason expectations for the Bison headed into the season? Obviously the team will be looking to improve on a 3-9 season last year, but how realistic is that, and what areas do they appear improved?
Kolpack: The last time this program was coming that poor of a year was in 2002 when the Bison went 2-8. Before that, the worst season was in the early ‘60s, so it's somewhat new territory to have a losing record by that much.
The expectations are that the team needs to improve, but as to how to quantify that - I don't think anybody really knows. There are so many young players on this team that I would say a .500 season would be considered successful.
What should Kansas fans expect the Bison to do both offensively and defensively headed into the game? In short, what's the Bison bread and butter, what's their game?
Kolpack: They've been a West Coast offense team since Craig Bohl got here in 2003 and that is not likely to change. The program has always been based on a power running game and again, that is unlikely to change.
Where are the biggest holes for the Bison? What can we expect Kansas to do well and for perspective, what would your expectation be for a Big 12 opponent in terms of how well they should play and what they should be able to accomplish against NDSU?
Kolpack: You just have to look back at last season's FCS statistics to see how poor the defense was, most notably a poor pass defense.
NDSU had just three interceptions all season, which ranked it second from the last in the entire division. So, I would expect a competent Big 12 passing attack to try and exploit last year's weakness, or at least give it a good early test.
For Kansas fans, what name on offense and also on defense should we know heading into the game?
Kolpack: Good question for the offense. Pat Paschall, the leading rusher in FCS last season, graduated. Quarterback Jose Mohler started the last four games last season and played OK. The receivers look average; Honestly I couldn't even tell you who the best offensive player is.
On defense, defensive tackle Matt Gratzek and linebacker Brandon Jemison are pretty good and should be two of the best in the Missouri Valley Football Conference at their positions.
Final verdict? What's the outcome of this one? Obviously there is a talent disparity, but what's a successful game for the Bison, and on the opposite side what's a successful showing for Kansas?
Kolpack: Hmm, so many unknowns in this game, just a ton of them.
For KU, there's a new coach, new quarterback and players switching positions. For NDSU, seven true freshmen playing, a new quarterback and a new defensive coordinator. So, when you know very little, you have to go by the simple math: 85 scholarships to 63 and take KU by at least two to three touchdowns.