NDSU confirms ACL injury to Tanguay as hunt for Valley title continues
FARGO—The worst-case scenario when it came to the evaluation of Nate Tanguay's knee injury came true when the North Dakota State standout defensive tackle was diagnosed with a torn ACL. It is yet another blow to a Bison defense that also saw its best player, middle linebacker Nick DeLuca, get sidelined for the season.
But at 8-1 overall and 5-1 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, nobody is going to play sad violin music for the five-time FCS national champions. Tanguay will have surgery and head coach Chris Klieman expects him to return for his senior year next season.
Meanwhile, junior Grant Morgan will start for Tanguay and sophomore Blake Williams is slated for a bigger role as a backup. It also means redshirt freshman Jack Darnell has reached the two-deep depth chart at noseguard for the first time.
"It's the hand we're dealt," Klieman said. "I feel bad for Nate, he was having a tremendous season but in the same respect the train keeps moving and Nate wouldn't want it any other way."
The Bison host Indiana State Saturday, Nov. 12, at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome. It's the final regular season game at the dome and it will be Senior Day for 11 players, although DeLuca is expected to get a medical hardship and return next season.
In the Sycamores, it will be NDSU's first game where it will be definitive favorites since Oct. 8 at Missouri State. Three of the last four games have been against teams that are expected to make the FCS playoff field and the other was Northern Iowa, perennially a playoff team and arguably the second-best team in the postseason field last year.
South Dakota State, Youngstown and Western Illinois are each 6-3 and probably need to win one of two games to make the field.
Moreover, NDSU's last two games against UNI and Youngstown came against two of the best defenses in the FCS. In each case, the Bison ran for more than 200 yards.
"Which is a great sign that we were able to move the line of scrimmage," Klieman said.
The passing game, however, needs to improve, Klieman said. Quarterback Easton Stick was 6 of 12 with one touchdown and one interception against the Penguins. He was 8 of 16 with two interceptions and a touchdown against UNI.
The 50 percent completion rate is well below the team target of around 65 percent.
"We have to get more out of the passing game and that's everybody," Klieman said. "I think it's all 11. We have to protect better, we have to run routes better, we have to have better schematics on things and we have to place the ball better from a quarterback standpoint at times. For us to be successful, we have to improve the passing game in general. It would be different if we didn't have success running the football but now we have to get the passing game caught up a bit."
Klieman left open the possibility of senior King Frazier returning to the backfield this week. He injured his ribs at Northern Iowa.
Up next: Indiana State at NDSU
When: 2:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 12
Where: Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome