Welcome to the Friday Walkthrough, where Inside the Pylon gets you ready for the weekend’s college football action with previews, notes on the big games and Heisman implications, and insight into what draft prospects to watch for.
August 28, 2015
Just one game is on the docket for this weekend, but it is big in terms of the Football Championship Subdivision. Four-time National Champion North Dakota State travels west to take on FCS rival Montana. Both teams enter the contest ranked in the Top-15 of the FCS Coaches’ Poll, with the Grizzlies checking in at #12 while the Bison sit atop the poll with all 24 first-place votes. Let our two-part preview get you ready for this match-up.
What to Expect When NDSU Has the Football: Carson Wentz returns for his senior year as the Bison quarterback. North Dakota State attacked Montana in a number of ways in their meeting last season, including running at the edges and throwing using 12 personnel. The Grizzlies linebackers held their own in the meeting last season and a big performance from that group ‒ minus Herbert Gamboa, who is suspended ‒ will be needed again.
What to Expect When Montana has the Football: Montana will be breaking in a new quarterback, as junior Brady Gustafson looks to be the starter for new Head Coach Bob Stitt. He will have two talented targets on the outside, with Jamaal Jones and Ellis Henderson. The return of Henderson to football after missing most of 2014 due to physical and mental illness is a story to watch in 2015. But last season, the Bison used some creative blitzes and stunts to collapse the pocket. Watch for those tomorrow.
Playoff Implications: Both schools made the FCS playoff field last season. Montana won their opening round game over San Diego before losing in the second round to Vernon Adams and Eastern Washington. The Bison ran the table, defeating Illinois State in the National Championship Game. Barring something unexpected, both teams will be back in the playoffs this season.
Heisman Implications: While FCS players are still technically eligible for the Heisman Trophy, not since Steve McNair in 1994 has a player from this level finished in the top ten. While some talented football players will take the field this Saturday in Missoula, do not expect any of them to receive an invitation to the Downtown Athletic Club in December.
Draft Watch: Wentz and Bison LT Joe Haeg are two players currently with mid-round grades from a few websites. Montana has a few players that might generate some attention during draft season, including Jones as well as two linebackers, Jeremiah Kose and Kenderick Van Ackeren.
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