UND hoping to rediscover pass rush against Missouri State
In a loss at Southern Illinois last Saturday, the Fighting Hawks' defense generated no sacks and only two quarterback hurries.
GRAND FORKS — When UND gave up seven sacks last Saturday — the most since 2012 — it was easy to lose sight of another key statistic for the Fighting Hawks.
On the other side of the ball, UND registered zero sacks against Southern Illinois quarterback Nic Baker. The Hawks only had two quarterback hurries.
UND, which has historically held a reputation for getting after the quarterback, entered the game with respectable seven sacks through three games and only once didn't have a sack in 2021 — a loss in Carbondale to Southern Illinois.
"They threw it quick early and made us run to the perimeter," UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. "We have to do better on those plays."
UND's sack leader through four weeks is defensive end Ben McNaboe, who has 2.5 sacks. Linebacker Josh Navratil, who was battling an injury at times against Southern Illinois, is UND's No. 2 sack leader with 2.0 on the season.
Southern Illinois was 7-for-9 on third down. UND ranks last in the Missouri Valley Football Conference in third-down conversion this season, letting teams pick it up at a 59.2 percent clip.
"When you get in longer-yardage situations, you can attack differently, so it was really first down," Schweigert said. "There weren't enough good third downs."
Schweigert added UND needed to be better against the wildcat formation, which the Salukis utilized with Javon Williams Jr., who had five carries for 33 yards at 6.6 yards per carry.
UND plays a Top 10 opponent in Missouri State at noon on Saturday at the Alerus Center. The Bears, who are coming off a home loss to South Dakota State, have given up a league-worst 21 sacks this season, despite possessing one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the FCS.
Missouri State quarterback Jason Shelley, who has already showcased his star power in scaring Arkansas earlier this season, has thrown for more than 1,100 yards this year.
"Last week, we saw South Dakota State do a really good job collapsing the pocket and not giving a good run lane," Schweigert said. "You also have to stop the run. You have to get in favorable down and distance. When he gets in a zone and comfortable, he plays well. We have to get him off his spot."