The classical definition for Slobberknocker is a literal hard hit. I'm going to play off that somewhat in a more figurative manner. While in contrast, and maybe more obviously, the Naw's are things that shouldn't have happened and/or need to change.
I can see the side of the argument for today's game lacking excitement, being boring even. But I heartily do not agree! Because it wasn't like we were watching Miami play DC in the pro league. These weren't bad teams just trying to scrape to a win. Both NDSU & Illinois State are championship-caliber and showed it head to head. That's exciting every time, even when the way that both teams are able to stay in the contest comes by way of their defense shutting down the opponent!
We've known for quite some time how potent the Bison offense can be. What we had not seen too often is how they would handle the pressure of a tight game because the other team's defense was able to limit their effectiveness. Cue Trey Lance running and Christian Watson catching today. Credit to the Birds for shutting down basically everything for all four quarters but at key moments during the game both of those two elements came up HUGE. It may be oversimplifying to say that the plays made on the ground and through the air won the game but I don't know how NDSU would have gotten even the nine points that they did without those two.
It's strange to say but there really wasn't one star tonight for the defense. Jabril had a pro-caliber chase down tackle and Tutsie had the big INT but it was truly a collective effort with everyone working in sync with each other. I think Code Green is more dangerous when it's not possible to identify one guy that is having a game wrecking sort of day and can be targeted by offensive scheming. To that point, Derek Tuszka didn't make it into the game log today but do you really think he didn't impact the game? Rhetorical.
I, like many of you probably, am typically not a fan of punters. I don't take it to Mike Zimmer levels of disdain but generally I'm realistic about their contribution. NDSU's current punt man is a different story and today kind of showed why it's not as insane as it seems to get excited about it, him. He came within inches of having each of his first three punts get downed inside the five. Not because he had tons of space and the ball rolled & was stopped there but because he's just that good at it. His best one was the first, after running the play-clock out, the delay of game was refused so that he wouldn't have the extra five-yards but he was able to get the punt just right so that Illinois State had to start inside the five. As tremendous of a punt as you will ever see. Appreciate people!
Ugly but Effective
The other specialist may not have been performing to the level that a Vinatieri would be shaking in his cleats but Griffin Crosa went three for three. I still don't know if the second one actually flew between the posts but according to the officials it was good so who am I to question it. With a couple weeks to go before he would have to attempt any kicks outside hopefully he can get them a little more safe but not missing is not missing.
There may be one or two other things that deserve mention but I think these are the main takeaways!