It's been well discussed in this area how the Bison Football team in recent weeks has been a Jekyll & Hyde operation. Good one half, poor the other. Dominant on defense, ineffective on offense. Just a couple examples off the top.
With all due respect to South Dakota State and Western Illinois, tonight's matchup was the biggest since the Iowa game. Not in terms of conference standing, though that is an implication for the Gold & Green but because of the rivalry that has developed over the last few years. Northern Iowa has been one of the few programs to beat us, both in Iowa and in the Doom Dome, recently. And in an amateur operation, rivalries are a major part of the appeal. Getting a complete game against the Panthers would make it all the sweeter and that is exactly how it shaped up.
Is what I was hoping to be able to say. For three quarters it was a success by all three phases but as has been the case, the offense fizzled as the game progressed into the final frame.
Fortunately the defense continued to shine. With four interceptions - two by Tre Dempsey, along with another break up, and one each by Matt Plank and Robbie Grimsley the defense balled out on the back end. That was in addition to three sacks (Greg Menard, Brad Ambrosius & MJ Stumpf) and six total tackles for loss. The stats actually only tell part of the story, when put in multiple high pressure scenarios in the fourth quarter they didn't even bend. In the final 10 minutes of the game the defense forced two punts then ratcheted it up with two interceptions to ice it. It was the perfect solution to the ineffectiveness of the offense over the same time.
It's easy to pile on Easton right now and I wouldn't argue with those who want to, because his play has been markedly regressed from last year. There must be a good reason for it though. Going 8 - 0 as a Freshman should not be cheapened because of the current stretch but the offense isn't night & day different from what he had last year even with the losses that happened. I personally can't quantify how this is the same offense that went toe to toe with Eastern Washington and won that shoot out. They're getting enough points to win but that seems like a consolation prize.
Maybe that's the prize that we'll have to accept this year though. The offense has been able to do just enough to win and the defense then needs to cover for the rest. It's not a recipe that I'm excited about and I hope that it doesn't stay that way because it's hard to imagine the defense maintaining this high level of play through the remainder of the regular season and the playoff games.
As long as the score keeps coming up with the Bison ahead, I don't want to complain to much but there are recurring issues on the offense that will hopefully be resolved before the playoffs kickoff. The loss of King Frazier won't help that but hopefully his rib injury and Bruce Anderson's ankle injury will be healed in the next three weeks because that would certainly help get the O right.