The Griz return home to face the best passing offense in the Big Sky, coming off the heels of a game where UND torched our pass D to the tune of 660 yards. ISU will be without their head coach, Mike Kramer who was suspended by the conference for pushing a player in practice. Lets take a look at ISU.

Record: 1-6

21-49 loss to Air Force: AFA ran for 485 yards in the rout. ISU’s passing efficiency was good but they didn’t get rolling until late, it was 28-0 at the half.

38-5 win vs Black Hills State: ISU’s lone win, the Bengals threw for 530 yards on 68 pass attempts and held Black Hills to 202 total yards.

7-73 loss vs Nebraska: It was 35-0 at the end of the 1st qtr, 45-0 at the half, and 66-0 at the end of the 3rd qtr. Total destruction. Nebraska had nearly 400 yards rushing in the game and another 150 passing. ISU had 3 turnovers and despite nearly 50 pass attempts they had just 179 passing yards.

31-54 loss vs Sac St: This one looked like it was going to be a game, it was 27-23 Sac at the half in a total shootout. However starting with a 2nd qtr TD Sac rattled off 27 unanswered points through the 3rd qtr and into the 4th which sealed the deal. Sac ran for 350, passed for 200 – while ISU passed for 540 on 73 pass attempts and had a net -2 yards rushing.

10-77 loss vs PSU: PSU pummeled the Bengals, 437 rushing, 321 passing for a total of 758 yards. ISU’s pass attack was held in check with just 283 yards passing as well as 3 picks and 2 lost fumbles.

45-52 loss vs UCD: The game was going score for score until near the end of the 3rd qtr where UCD scored two TDs in a row to grab a 14 point lead. From there, once again, it went score for score – so UCD was either holding a 14 or 7 point lead as the game went on. ISU scored to get it to 52-45 with 3:40 left but UCD ran out the clock getting 3 first downs. UCD ran for 330, passed for 310 while ISU passed for nearly 400 and ran for just 50.

14-52 loss vs UNC: NC ran for 250, passed for 300 and went +4 in turnovers on the day. ISU had nearly 360 passing but was severely hampered as UNC held the ball for nearly 11:00 more clock time.

Players to watch:

#15 Kevin Yost, QB: By the design of the offense it’s no shock that Yost has the most prolific passing stats in the Big Sky. He’s averaging 351 yards per game, has 16 TDs and 9 ints. He is a small risk to scramble a bit as well.

#13 Rodrick Rumble, WR: Rumble is just 1 game back from missing a few game. He’s one of the best WRs in the league. He averages 110 yards/game but has just 2 TDs in 5 games played this year. He’s a big 6-2 guy, 210 pounds.

#5 Cam Richmond, WR: A JuCo kid, Richmond leads the team in receptions. He’s got 562 yards and 4 TDs, averaging about 80 yards/game.

#88 Josh Hill, TE: Probably going to be the 1st team all-conf TE, Hill has 405 yards and 4 TDs this season.

#82 Luke Austin, WR: Another taller WR, Austin has 453 yards and a team-leading 6 TDs.

#20 Aaron Prier, RB: One of two RBs that’ll get some carries. Prier has 184 rushing yards this year and 2 TDs. The other RB to watch for is #31 Xavier Finney – a bigger guy with 170 rushing yards and 3 TDs. Prier also has 132 receiving yards while Finney has 82. Prier is also the main KR guy for the Bengals.

#46 Mitch Beckstead, LB: This linebacker leads the team in tackles with 61 but just 0.5 TFL, no sacks, no ints, no forced fumbles.

#11 Demetrus Allen, LB: 2nd on the team in tackles with 57, he’s got 3.5 TFL as well and 0.5 sacks.

#2 Donovan Henley, DB: Was an all-conf honorable mention last year, leads the team with 2 picks this year as well as 7 pass break ups. He’s got 35 tackles this year.

#28 Cam Gupton, DB: 3rd on the team with 45 tackles, 1 int, 1 fumble recovery.

General stats:

– ISU averages 373 passing yards/game and 54 rush yards/game which ranks them the #1 pass offense and the #13 rush offense. Meanwhile the UM defense allows 307 pass yards/game and 98 rush yards/game which equates to the worst pass-d in conference and the 2nd best rush-d.

– Scoring defense, ISU is the worst, they AVERAGE allowing 51 points per game. Also ISU’s total defense is dead last while UM’s total offense is 2nd best. The way all of these stats are stacking up, Saturday could be a shootout.

– ISU is averaging 53 pass attempts per game and just 23 rush attempts per game.

– ISU has a -10 turnover margin while the UM has a -4 turnover margin.

– ISU’s played 4 road games and has been beat by an average score of 13 to 63.

– ISU’s rush defense is the worst in the league, averaging 333 yards per game allowed.

– ISU has only sacked a QB 3 times this whole year, while Yost has been sacked 21 times himself.

Keys for a Grizzly victory:

– Ball control, a good running game that will keep ISU’s pass attack off the field will really help. I think that despite a strong passing game from Shay the Griz should consider using TMac more (not exclusively) who can better handle the spread-rush attack.

– Give the safeties help, somehow. Maybe go more nickel and use 5 DBs with the corners that can play more man-to-man coverage. Look at dropping Tripp back into more shell coverage, something, please.

– Get after Yost, sacks will help, I’m expecting a big day from Wagenmann and the rest of the D-line.

– Get help from mother nature – low 30’s and snowy/rainy plays advantage to a running offense vs a pass-heavy offense.

– Risk getting beat deep. I expect ISU to put up somewhere between 400 – 500 passing yards unless something totally wild happens. They’re going to copy UND, put their better WRs in positions to attack our safeties in the middle. Against UND there was such a fear of getting beat deep our safeties allowed just about everything in front of them to be caught. Since that strategy didn’t work out, at all, why not actually have them play closer and run the risk of getting beat a little more, but also have the chance of making a play on the ball as well.

– Get creative with some blitzing, Yost may get rattled if he’s got JP and Tripp knocking him around after some rushed throws.

– Don’t scrap the passing game. While I suggested Trent should play more I won’t be shocked if Shay actually goes most/all of the way. A full game and weeks’ worth of prep might have him dialed in, however ISU’s pass D is one of the better ranked, statistically.

– Don’t get cute or conservative on offense, I think I’ve said that ever since the team has started to skid… and it’s bit them in the butt every time.

– Let Ellis Henderson bust out. He had a few big plays against UND, lets keep that going.

– Give Counts some carries. Please.

This game is a total unknown. On one hand you’ve got ISU’s record on the road and their defense which is just horrid, it suggests they should be blown out even with the state of our current pass defense. However, we all saw that game last week – and ISU is even more dynamic in the passing game. They probably will not even try to run… why would they? I’m beyond saying our pass D needs to “step up” b/c they don’t seem to have that ability this year, however if they can just keep the mistakes to a minimum, and if our safeties can actually just tackle… a little bit even – the Griz can win this game. I’m thinking this will be a shootout, last team with the ball may win it.