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Cobber Football Primer

I don’t think I’m going out on too flimsy of a limb by saying that the Concordia Cobbers of Moorhead were the second best Football team in the F/M/WF area in 2017.

They had some signature wins and should have been included in the division three post season. But I’ve done enough griping about that in the eight or nine months since it all went down so stupidly.

As often happens in programs that have a tremendous season but are still building and aren’t established to the degree that a Wisconsin Whitewater type program is on the Division three landscape, there will be some significant player turnover from last season to the upcoming one.

The changing of the guard starts at the running back position because workhorse Chad Johnson concluded his time in Maroon. He was the best at the position on the team by a near 3 - 1 ratio in many of the key statistical categories. There’s no two ways about it, he’s going to be nearly irreplaceable, at least by one player but the roster has no shortage of young legs that could be able to collectively carry the weight. Add to the loss of Johnson is that there is only one returning member of the top five runners club: Blake Kragnes, quarterback Blake Kragnes.

So in other words, running back is a position with a big, bold ? next to it for the Cobbers. Positive spin would be to say that it seems primed for an open position battle when the students return to campus in a few weeks but that is spin

But where running back is full of questions, quarterback may already have it’s answer. Kragnes all but clinched his standing as the next quarterback last season when he played in all ten games, showed he could run and even managed to be the leading passer, albeit in very limited work - 77 attempts over his 10 games of play. In case it needs to be said, 77 passes will not be good enough. Not for a team that’s looking to further establish itself on the national level.

But he has already shown that he has a skill to fall back on, that shouldn’t be overlooked. So while I would rather have an established passer, the coaches may have brought him along in that respect and a duel threat is the best thing to have on the college level.

The other half of passing is the guys that the quarterback has to throw to. I don’t think there will be a Brandon Zylstra amongst the current group but there is a trio of seniors to lead the way and several more juniors that could compliment the offense. I'd go so far as to say that the receiving corp will be the strength of the offense, which makes it all the more important that either Kragnes, or one of his fellow quarterbacks, is able to capitalize on their talents.

Whoever the quarterback ends up being (& to be clear I do think it will be BK but we don't know that), he won’t be able to just hand the ball off and expect to win games. It worked last year but 2018 for the offense will hinge on their ability to adjust to the new circumstance.

But what about the guys to keep the quarterback upright?

Physically speaking the group ranges from a couple guys that are fire hydrant like to some that could play Center on the Basketball team. Generally the tallest guys man the edges while the heights drop at Guard and at Center. It’s yet another group that has some veterans to lean on but is rich with fresh faces. As important as it will be for the Quarterback, Running backs and Receivers to hold up their end of the equation, very little can happen if the offensive lines is consistently unable to block or create running lanes.

But even as important as that bunch will be, I can’t say that breaking down the offensive line play is any fun, especially in written form, so onward we go to the other side of the ball.

It’s a matter of opinion, which part of a defense is the most important. Personally, I’m a fan of Safeties. They get to run around, hit people and intercept passes. I consider it to be the epitome of a Football position but in order to operate at their best they need Corners who handle their roles, Corners need Linebackers who in turn need a strong Defensive Line. Every part of a defense needs quality play from the other parts in order to work properly. In order to be great. Maybe the current defense won’t be great but it seems like it won’t be a slouching operation either.

The defensive front has height and size that should allow for them to get after the quarterback while also stopping the run. If they prove ineffective at one or both of those elements of their jobs then every level of the defense behind them will have to work all the harder to perform their roles well. If you haven’t picked up on on it by now, a recurring theme is that the team has an abundance of depth. The d-line is no exception for the Cobbers, deep in the numbers of bodies that may be mixed in and deep with the amount of leadership that could be exercised by the several upperclassmen. Big bodies from across the Min-Dak seem primed to push the interior of the offensive line while their more lithe associates will work to go through, get around and generally just get past all would be blockers on their way to the opposing quarterback.

And the defensive line depth for the corn cobs pales in comparison to the depth that will be right behind them. Without knowing the inner workings of the defensive schemes I can’t say too much about how the bakers dozen and a half will be used. Whether it’s in coverage or to add more pressure to the opposing offense or in other more creative ways, their usage could make or break both the perception and the reality of how good the defense manages to be in 2018. So the front seven looks promising but what about the guys behind them?

The conglomeration known as the defensive backs group is SUPER deep. They’ve got height, they have length, they have speed. Since it’s Football I’m gonna guess they have some guys who will run around & lay the wood on any opponents who get in their way. And they have the top two interception guys returning from 2017. All those elements will likely come together to make a very delectable stew in the defensive back field for the Cobbers.

Whether you are offense first or like me appreciate great defensive play, the 2018 Cobber Football team has some promise. Coming off the 8 - 2 of 2017 but with the loss of a stud running back and seniors at every position, it could end up being a year of transition though. It will all come down to how the depth that has been accumulated by the coaching staff is able to offset the graduates. If I were to boil it down even more, I would give the nod to how the linebackers and quarterback perform as the final word whether it’s another successful season or it gets branded a rebuild season for the little college on eighth street.

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