Bison defense goes from one extreme to the other

FARGO — The statistical sheet of the Sam Houston State offense has so many numbers on it you practically need your accountant to sort it all out. Quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe, for instance, has completed 81 more passes than North Dakota State quarterback Easton Stick has attempted.
It’s a high-flying, up-tempo attack that has done an assault on the school and FCS record books the last couple of seasons. The Bison will see the reality of it Friday, Dec. 15, in the FCS semifinal clash at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.
It’s also nothing like the offense the Bison faced last week in the 42-10 win against Wofford College (S.C.). The Terriers were all-run with their hard-to-prepare-for triple option attack.
So, in a span of six days, the Bison defense will go from facing one extreme to another.
“Polar opposites really,” said Bison linebacker Nick DeLuca. “You go from having to defend the triple option to a big passing attack. It’s definitely flipping the switch this week.”
Bison head coach Chris Klieman said the coaching staff didn’t even bother reviewing and grading the Wofford tape.
“You flush it and move on and we’ll look at it in the offseason,” he said.
Last week was so different that the Bison didn’t even bother working on a pass rush in practice. That changed this week.
“It is re-training and re-focusing the guys that this is a different game plan,” Klieman said. “But we have a lot of veteran guys who know that it’s going to come down to us controlling the line of scrimmage on defense and being able to rush the passer.”
If there is a silver lining to facing the Bearkats, it’s that the Bison have seen similar looks this season. Even in the Missouri Valley Football Conference that is considered a more physical league, teams like the University of South Dakota and Missouri State run the spread offense. South Dakota State’s version of the spread put 33 points on the Bison in the Dakota Marker game.
“Last week was definitely a challenge but we’re moving forward,” DeLuca said. “We’re going to face something we’ve seen more this season and that we’re more familiar with.”
It will be the last home game for seniors like DeLuca with the winner going on to the FCS title game Jan. 6 in Frisco, Texas.
“We’re going to play with an edge this week without a doubt because it is the last time,” DeLuca said. “We’re trying to embrace every last opportunity.”
Moreover, NDSU lost in this game last year when James Madison ended NDSU’s five-year title reign on the FCS with a 27-17 win at the dome. The Dukes scored 10 fourth-quarter points and held the Bison to a 132 yards rushing.
“It’s one and done,” DeLuca said. “We’re just trying to focus on making plays and going out and executing.”