S or N: Downing the Dogs
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.
The Good O
Nothing that happened on the field surpasses the completion of another undefeated season & locking up the #1 seed through the playoffs. But there were plenty of pros to extract specifically from this one so let's get into them!
Southern Illinois was exactly the sort of team to face go into the bye-week. If there was any chance of the young stars on the team resting on their laurels, today's game should help dispell them. The offense, defense and special teams all faced challenges today the likes of which they will have to endure every week the rest of the way if they're going to win in Texas again. Coach Entz will talk about the things that need to get cleaned up and will have strategies in place when they retake the field but I would wager that somewhere in his mind he's glad that today's game went the way that it did!
I know this is a peculiar time to bust out a merger of the quarterback's name with a strongly positive adjective but he continued to show that he's got that phenom quality. So yes, Trey Lance had average numbers through the air but he still hasn't thrown an interception and SIU could only manage a handful of pass break-ups. There's absolutely nothing wrong with that sort of game management! His most pronounced impact game on the ground this week as he finished with the third most yards & pulled off a touchdown run in which he was barely touched.
If not for the sleeve of tats, I would swear that Jimmy Kepouros is RJ Urzendowski. Kepouros just doesn't miss his opportunities to catch the ball. Even with all the other guys that continue to prove himself, he's found a fairly rapid rapport with Lance that I think will only continue to get better in the next few weeks!
If holding an opponent to seven points isn't enough to make a best-of breakdown - it should be - then maybe the defense keeping SIU nearly 140 yards below their season average would be enough to get them on the list. It wasn't the most flashy performance from the defense that has happened this year but the Salukis played like the second-best team on NDSU's schedule and were still stifled that mightily. With the benefit of more time to get right, I think it will only get better from here but even if they're only as effective as they were today, the defense is ready for the main tests!
It's not an all-encompassing wrap of the positives to extract from today's game but I think these are the main takeaways!