FARGO - North Dakota State's football team may be without one of its premier players on Saturday when it hosts the University of South Dakota. Junior linebacker Jabril Cox suffered an unspecified injury against Western Illinois last Saturday and his status is unknown.
Cox, along with several other Bison starters, did not play in the second half in the 57-21 win at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome.
“As of right now, not really sure,” said Bison head coach Matt Entz. “We're going to go to practice today and prepare as if he won't be available.”
Entz said the injury was “lower leg” in nature.
“Nothing structurally,” he said. “At the same time it's a young man's health we're talking about. I'm far from a doctor so we'll let our medical staff handle it.”
Cox is NDSU's third-leading tackler with 56 stops. He has six tackles for lost yardage and three quarterback sacks despite the penchant of teams to run away from his side of the field.
NDSU, 10-0 and 6-0 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference, can clinch a tie for its ninth straight league crown with a victory over the Coyotes. It’s something Entz stressed to his team in the immediate aftermath of the win over the Leathernecks.
It will be the last regular season game for 14 seniors.
“For these guys to put their trust in me,” said Entz, in his first year as the head coach. “At least half of the staff is new, it says a lot about their character. And I’m excited to recognize these guys this week. As the week comes to an end, there will probably be more emotions and more trips down memory lane with a couple of them.”
On the flipside of the class structure, true freshman running back Jalen Bussey burst on the scene in the fourth quarter for the Bison. He had 173 all-purpose yards, including 123 rushing on six carries and two touchdowns, and was named the Missouri Valley Newcomer of the Week.
The 5-foot-5, 153-pound Bussey will not play in more than four games this season to preserve his redshirt, Entz said.
The unbeaten Bison will face a South Dakota team that hasn’t performed to preseason expectations. The Coyotes are 4-6 overall and 3-3 in the Valley.
They did, however, snap a three-game losing streak last weekend with a big win of their own. The 56-21 win over Youngstown State was met with a league award of their own when quarterback Austin Simmons was named the Missouri Valley Offensive Player of the Week.
He threw for 180 yards, ran for 72 more, and accounted for five touchdowns in just three quarters. The Coyotes had four straight drives of at least 75 yards to start the game.
Simmons, a senior, also moved into third place on the USD all-time passing chart with 6,162 yards.
“We’ll have our hands full as we move forward this week,” Entz said. “USD has a high-octane offense and they’ll throw it all over the place. In the last two weeks they’ve done a really good job of running the football. Austin Simmons is very talented and they get into a lot of gun-run game with him.”
Former Bison TE charged in GF County
Former NDSU tight end Dawson Weisenberger, whom Entz said in early October left the team, pleaded guilty to minor in possession and marijuana possession of less than ½ ounce, both misdemeanors, on Sept. 14 in Grand Forks County, according to Northeast Central District Court records.
Weisenberger, from Fargo South High SChool, was part of the NDSU signing day class last winter and was redshirting this season.
“He chose to not be part of the team,” Entz said.
Weisenberger paid $250 in fines.