FARGO — As awards go, North Dakota State is dominating the Missouri Valley Football Conference Offensive Lineman of the Week. Junior left tackle Dillon Radunz took the honor last weekend after NDSU’s 56-17 win at Youngstown State and became the fourth member of the Bison offensive line to earn the honor this season.
He’s the third Bison lineman in the last four weeks following right tackle Cordell Volson against Missouri State and center Karson Schoening against Northern Iowa. Right guard Zack Johnson got the award in September in the win over the University of North Dakota.
Radunz had zero missed assignments and allowed zero pressures while NDSU rushed for 251 yards averaging 7.4 yards per attempt.
“Every guy is going to love seeing their name on the headline of an article for something like that but a big thing is it’s a testament to coaching and whole offensive line as a group,” Radunz said. “I was just the lucky one who didn’t miss an assignment and was able to play at the top of my game that game.”
The award is the result of each team’s coaching staff submitting their film review grades of their offensive linemen to the league office, which are due on Monday. The other players of the week nominations are due on Sunday.
NDSU was sixth this week in the Division I FCS football in quarterback sacks allowed giving up just seven in nine games. It’s a figure that traditionally favors the triple option teams like Wofford, Kennesaw State and Davidson, which are the top three respectively, since they don’t throw the ball very often.
“I think we have the best offensive line in the country,” said Bison defensive end Spencer Waege, who faces it routinely in practice. “Seeing those players of the week, it’s not a shock to anybody here. It’s the best thing for our d-line and why our d-line has been successful because every day in fall camp and spring ball we go against these guys constantly. We always tell ourselves we’re going against the best guys in the country and it shows it every week now during the season.”
With four starters now winning the award, it leaves only left guard Nash Jensen remaining as a starter who hasn’t been honored. It’s made for some good fun, Radunz said.
“Yes, so when the first three got it, everybody was like, so the left side hasn’t gotten any of the awards yet?” he said. “We joke about it but Nash is doing phenomenal these past few games and he’s grown so much since the beginning of the season. Like I said before, it’s a testimony to us all. We’re all playing well and this offensive line group is pretty special.”
Penalties addressed; penalties reduced
A point of emphasis for the Bison after a 23-16 win at South Dakota State and a 22-0 win at home over Missouri State was to minimize their penalties. NDSU had nine infractions for 75 yards against the Bears and 10 penalties for a season-high 100 yards against the Jackrabbits.
Before that was seven penalties for 66 yards at Illinois State.
“We talked about it. I don’t know what caused us to have 10 that week and unfortunately some of those penalties were on some upperclassmen that you don’t anticipate getting penalties,” said Bison head coach Matt Entz. “It’s just the way it is and we’ll continue to stress playing as clean of a game as we can.”
It appeared to pay off last week. The Bison had just one penalty for five yards at Youngstown State.
“Well, sometimes you get what you emphasize,” Entz said. “When you don’t hurt yourself, you can stay out of your own way, it becomes easier to get first downs and gets much easier to get stops.”
More true freshmen getting looks
As the regular season dwindles to three games in November, Entz said he’s more apt to dress more true freshmen on Saturday to take advantage of the NCAA four-game rule. Look for running back Jalen Bussey (Brandon, Fla.), defensive end Eli Mostaert (Lakeville, Minn.), defensive tackle Javier Derritt (Olathe, Kan.) and cornerbacks Terrell Hall (Winona, Minn.) and Anthony Coleman (Grimes, Iowa) to be in line to get in the game.
Merely dressing for a game doesn’t count toward the four-game rule; a player has to play in at least one play.
Will Mostaert, Eli’s twin brother, has already played in two games. Derritt has played in one while the others have yet to see the field.
“Whether they play or not, at least they’ll have the opportunity to go through pre-game, the Friday night logistics, all those little things,” Entz said.
Four true freshmen have already had their redshirts removed: kicker Griffin Crosa, running back Kobe Johnson, linebacker Luke Weerts and safety Julian Wlodarczyk. Crosa, Weetz and Wlodarczyk have been seeing most of their time on special teams.