FRISCO, Texas — James Madison defensive end Ron’Dell Carter knows what to expect from the North Dakota State offensive line for Saturday’s NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision title game. Carter practiced against that Bison style of play when he was at Rutgers.
NDSU offensive coach AJ Blazek used to be the offensive line coach for the Scarlet Knights, while Carter was in the program.
“That’s my guy. He’s a great guy,” Carter said of Blazek. “I got to go against him and his players every day in practice when I was at Rutgers and it was pretty cool. I know what type of mentality he brings.”
The 6-foot-3, 269-pound Carter has 11.5 sacks and 25.5 tackles for a loss through 15 games. The Dukes (14-1) play the Bison (15-0) at 11 a.m. Saturday at Toyota Stadium for the national championship. NDSU is the two-time defending champion.
“I can’t wait to see him,” Blazek said of Carter during Thursday’s media availability. “I’m going to give him a big old hug when I see him.”
Carter and 6-foot-2, 227-pound John Daka give the Dukes a dynamic defensive end combination. Daka has 16.5 sacks and 26.5 tackles for a loss this season.
“It’s kind of like two different types of running back, thunder and lighting,” Blazek said.
James Madison has the top rushing defense in the FCS, allowing 61.1 yards per game. The Dukes rank third in scoring defense, giving up 14.9 points per contest. The James Madison defensive line and Bison offensive line is expected to be one of the key matchups in the title game.
Bison offensive tackle Dillon Radunz anchors a line that has helped the Bison rush for 288 yards per game. NDSU is also averaging 37.9 points a game.
“They play really sound defense,” Radunz said. “Those two defensive ends, teams have been scared of them all year. We’ve got to respect them. … We trust our offense is good enough.”
Carter is in his third and final season with the Dukes after transferring from Rutgers. Carter said Blazek sent him a message to congratulate him after Carter received an All-American honor earlier this season.
“That just lets you know how good of a guy he is,” Carter said. “He’s a great coach. He’s an even better person off the field.”
Carter expects the Bison offensive line to be aggressive, physical and well coached.
“They are going to play to the end of the whistle because (Blazek) doesn’t play that. He doesn’t play that at all,” Carter said. “It’s a great battle. We’re up to that challenge. … We have a great D-line as well though.”
Dukes head coach Curt Cignetti said his team’s defensive philosophy is to be aggressive and create tackles for losses and sacks. The Dukes have 46 sacks and 131 tackles for losses entering the championship game.
“They’re really dynamic players with a lot of talent,” Cignetti said of Carter and Daka. “I think it’s a combination of what we’re trying to get done and the talent we have.”
Blazek said the Dukes are talented across their defensive front with Mike Greene at defensive tackle and Adeeb Atariwa at nose guard starting inside of Carter and Daka.
“They’ve got very different types of defensive linemen,” Blazek said.
“There are not a lot of holes out there, but you expect that when you’re playing for a national championship,” Bison head coach Matt Entz added. “Defensively, it starts with their two defensive ends, Carter and Daka. Excellent football players, difference-makers.”