FARGO — The common denominator in Trey Lance’s assessment of his play after each of the first two North Dakota State football games had to do with the opponents. Both Butler University (Ind.) and the University of North Dakota, he said, threw defensive wrinkles at him that the Bison offense wasn’t expecting.
In other words, the two teams tried their best to confuse the young, redshirt freshman quarterback.
“I think the biggest thing we’ve seen is both of these teams probably had the entire off season to game plan for us,” said Bison head coach Matt Entz. “They were going to do something completely different or something they hadn’t shown necessarily on film just for the shock value it might cause.”
If it did cause any shock value, Lance didn’t let it show. He has been sharp in NDSU’s 2-0 start completing 21 of 26 passes with six touchdowns and zero interceptions.
If the Bulldogs and Fighting Hawks presented defensive line or secondary looks Lance hadn’t seen, the Bison found a way to adjust. UND did find a way to get to Lance for a couple of quarterback sacks and Lance said afterward it was his fault for not getting his team into the correct pass protection alignment.
They are detailed items of football that perhaps a veteran quarterback like Easton Stick or Carson Wentz would have instantly figured out. Lance is just in his second year in the program and has played in four games overall.
“I think if you were to compare a junior or senior Carson or Easton to a freshman Trey, it’s probably not fair to compare that but that’s exactly right, because of the experience, those guys had seen a lot more football,” Entz said. “As I watched film with the offensive staff, I think there were a few times he missed some things as far as protection and getting us lined up. But Trey has done well.”
That will have to continue Saturday when the Bison take their No. 1-ranked show on the road to the University of Delaware. The noon (CST) kickoff will be the first away game at a Colonial Athletic Association foe in NDSU history.
The Blue Hens will go in ranked tied for 18th in the FCS top 25 coaches poll and 18th in the STATS.com media poll.
It will be a rematch from last year when NDSU won 38-10 at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome. This year is the tail end of a two-year, home-and-home agreement between the two programs.
“I told them after the game (Saturday), when teams go on the road, it’s opportunities to create a bunch of continuity for guys to get to know each other’s story and start caring for one another,” Entz said. “I’m excited about this being a big trip for us and we’re going to play a really good football team as well. I know they’ll be prepared for the Bison when they come to town.”
Entz said he’s still not certain of the status of starting free safety James Hendricks, who suffered possible concussion symptoms in the UND game.
“If I were a betting man, I know James is going to do everything he can to play,” Entz said.
He said running back Dimitri Williams, who left the game with an apparent injury, is fine and will play against Delaware.
Also returning will be backup linebacker Jaxon Brown, who missed the UND game with what Entz called a non-discipline, non-football issue.
The news wasn’t great, however, for backup sophomore linebacker Mason Hofstedt, who Entz said has a “lower body injury” that will require surgery in the next two weeks. Backup linebacker Jasir Cox (knee) has been jogging in practice in a brace and the hope is he’ll return in a couple of weeks.