Daily Egyptian

Scouting the Bison

By Thomas Donley, @tdonleyDE

The Missouri Valley Football Conference’s top offense and top defense in terms of total yards will square off Saturday at Saluki Stadium. 

If that sounds familiar, that’s because it happened last week, too, when then-No. 16 Youngstown State came into Carbondale giving up the fewest yards per game in the Valley. After SIU’s 459-yard performance against the Penguins, No. 6 North Dakota State is tops in the conference in that area allowing 297.1 yards per game. 

The Salukis still hold the top spot in total, rushing and passing offense at 531.6, 222.7 and 308.9 yards per game, respectively. SIU also has the No. 1 scoring offense with 41.1 points per game.

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The four-time defending Football Championship Subdivision champion Bison are first in rushing defense as well, holding opponents to 106.9 yards on the ground. NDSU is second to South Dakota State in scoring defense, yielding 19.1 points per game.

On the other side of the ball, North Dakota State’s offense is third in total offense and second in scoring offense, while SIU’s defense is ninth in total defense, scoring defense, rushing defense and passing defense. 

The Bison are without senior starting quarterback Carson Wentz, who suffered a broken wrist Oct. 17 in a loss to South Dakota. Wentz was rated the No. 10 quarterback prospect in the 2016 NFL Draft by CBS Sports.

In six games, Wentz is No. 3 in the Valley in passing yards with 1,454. He is tied with Saluki senior quarterback Mark Iannotti for the conference lead with 16 touchdowns. 

In Wentz’s place will be freshman Easton Stick. Stick completed nine of 20 passes for 126 yards with one touchdown and one interception during NDSU’s 28-14 win on Oct. 24 at Indiana State, his first career start. Stick added a team high 124 yards rushing. 

NDSU rushes for 194.7 yards per game, but none of its backs average 60 yards per game. Junior running back King Frazier leads the Bison stampede at 58.0 yards a game. Wentz was averaging 35.8 yards per game on the ground before his injury. Stick averages 49.3 yards per game, but in his first two games he record no attempts. 

Senior wide receiver Zach Vraa leads the Bison in receptions, with 28, good for seventh in the Valley. No NDSU receiver is in the top 10 in the MVFC in receiving yards.  

Thomas Donley can be reached at [email protected] or at 618-536-3307

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