UND football: Sioux looking to establish the run
Searching for positives after UND's 45-0 loss to Idaho last Thursday, one stat sticks out for the Sioux. UND averaged 4.5 yards per carry against the Vandals and both Josh Murray and Mitch Sutton showed glimpses of what the Sioux hope for in a ba...
Searching for positives after UND's 45-0 loss to Idaho last Thursday, one stat sticks out for the Sioux.
UND averaged 4.5 yards per carry against the Vandals and both Josh Murray and Mitch Sutton showed glimpses of what the Sioux hope for in a backfield of two former all-Great West Conference running backs.
Murray carried the ball 10 times for 49 yards, while Sutton had eight carries for 36 yards. When the Football Championship Subdivision Sioux face Northern Illinois, another Football Bowl Subdivision opponent, on Saturday, UND would like to get the pair more opportunities.
"We need to push the running game more," UND coach Chris Mussman said. "We want to establish that earlier. You're probably going to see (Murray and Sutton) in sets together like you did last week."
Although Murray and Sutton were effective at times against Idaho, four turnovers and an ineffective passing game cancelled out the positive rushing attack.
"We were our own worst enemy," Mussman said.
Mussman stressed that the Sioux need to show the ability to stretch the field through the air for the ground game to take hold.
UND quarterback Jake Landry was 19-for-34 for 122 yards and two interceptions against Idaho. Fullback Catlin Solum was UND's leading receiver with seven catches for 45 yards. UND's longest pass of the day went for 15 yards -- to Murray.
"We have to find ways versus FBS teams to move the ball down the field," Mussman said. "We have to back people up and take shots down the field. We have to be able to back up these defenses so they can't crowd the line and take away the run game."
UND will have another tough task to accomplish that against the Mid-American Conference's Northern Illinois, a team Mussman said defensively looked stronger and faster than Idaho.
Northern Illinois returns nine starters from last season's group that ranked 30th nationally in both total and scoring defense.
"Their defense is predicated on stopping the run," Mussman said. "Jerry Kill has always had successful defenses."
Murray, though, feels the Sioux put together some building blocks of a successful running game against Idaho.
"Our line opened up some big holes (against Idaho)," Murray said. "In the second half, especially, I thought we did well running the ball.
"Their linebackers and defensive line were pretty big, but we were able to move them around."
Murray hopes that can continue against Northern Illinois.
"They look like they have a sound defense," Murray said. "They do lots of gap blitzes and stunting. It's going to be tough for us, but we just need to watch some film and pick it up."
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