Back on Saturday, September 7, the University of North Dakota football team lost 35-28 to South Dakota State University at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. The loss was pointed to by many as the possible return of the UND football team.
To them, the score reflected UND pushing a highly ranked SDSU team to the brink. UND threw for over 400 yards and exposed a weak SDSU secondary. The sky was the limit for UND and what they could do in an offensively driven Big Sky conference.
That was, perhaps, the last time anybody anywhere has said anything positive about the School up North and their football team. Since that loss, the team has rattled off embarrassing losses to Montana, Montana State, Eastern Washington and Sacramento State.
The most embarrassing of these losses was last week’s 31-7 loss to Sacramento State, a team that UND was suppose to challenge at the beginning of the season. In the loss, UND had four turnovers, ran for 49 yards and threw for a paltry 167 yards. UND quarterback Joel Mollberg was sacked five times and two of UND’s leading tacklers were from their secondary.
So far this season, UND ranks near the bottom in every team defensive statistic in the Big Sky. And a once promising offense can no longer move the ball. The running game is non-existent. The turnover margin is -15. This team is just bad.
The question becomes what can be done to turn things around? You have to look at the region, not the conference, that UND plays in. North Dakota State University is so far ahead of UND, they need binoculars to see the Bison.
SDSU is closer to where NDSU is at than UND despite the struggles the Jackrabbits have had in 2013. You could say that UND and the University of South Dakota were close as far as program progression but USD has made some significant strides this season.
UND is struggling to stay afloat while every other team in the region is moving forward and moving forward very quickly. It isn’t like you can blame this on youth either. The defense starts just one true freshman.
It may be harsh to say but perhaps it is time for UND to start over. Does that mean removing Chris Mussman as the head coach? That seems like the most likely way to go with this because in five plus seasons, he just has not gotten it done.
In five plus seasons as head coach, the UND defense has gotten progressively worse, with this year shaping up to be their worst in his tenure. It appears he is trading defense for offense and that would work if he was outscoring opponents but that is not the case.
I understand that saying a head coach should be removed is a little unfair but what other solution is there? Unless, UND is happy with having a second rate football program while the rest of the programs in the region move forward with theirs.
With four games left, three on the road, for UND, we will see how it all plays out. If UND turns it around, say they win three out of the next four, I can see him sticking around. If UND goes out and drops the last four or three of the last four, I find it hard to come up with reasons for sticking with him.
Frankly, I am not expecting the former to come true for the School up North and their football program.
You can follow Daniel "Pinto" Gunderson on Twitter at @pintoKFGO or friend him on Facebook. You can hear him on his weekly podcast show on kfgo.com, 740thefan.com or on iTunes called “The Pinto and White Shadow Show.” Pinto is a radio producer within the Midwest Communications-Fargo company.