Bison CB Eubanks: Arizona game chance to make a statement
NDSU defensive backs will have their hands full against talented corps of Arizona receivers
FARGO — The prevailing theme for the Arizona Wildcats football team this season carries an “it’s personal” motto, a reference to building team unity in the second year of head coach Jedd Fisch’s tenure. North Dakota State cornerback Courtney Eubanks may take a different meaning to it.
It’s personal, as in a Division I FCS defensive back matching up against high-flying FBS receivers.
“You know, FBS, they don’t look at us that way,” Eubanks said. “They probably just think they’re going to come out here and dominate. I guess we don’t get the respect that we need because we’re the FCS, but I feel like we can beat a lot of FBS teams.”
The matchup of the Arizona receivers vs. the NDSU defensive backfield is expected to be a major factor when the two teams kickoff at 10 p.m. (CST) Saturday at Arizona Stadium. UA quarterback Jayden de Laura threw it 48 times last week against Mississippi State, completing 23, and the Wildcats’ struggles getting a running game going may carry over to the Bison game.
Arizona brought in a couple of transfer wide receivers to make de Laura’s passing worthwhile. Jacob Cowing extended his nation's longest consecutive games streak with a catch to 34 that includes his time at Texas El Paso.
Cowing has four touchdown receptions in two games, which ranks third in the FBS, and already matched Arizona’s season high of last season when Michael Wiley, who will also be a threat against NDSU, had four.
The Bison will try to counter with a good pass rush against de Laura and an experienced defensive backfield including Eubanks, a junior in his second season as a starter but still looking for his first interception.
“I feel like it’s going to be a big game and I feel like this is a game where I can make a statement and put myself out there,” he said. “I’m excited for this.”
Eubanks will start opposite senior Jayden Price at cornerback, but the Bison play senior Destin Talbert and sophomore Marquis Sigle regularly. The Bison have sixth-year seniors Michael Tutsie and Dawson Weber at the two safety spots with junior Dom Jones part of that mix.
The three-receiver Wildcat set includes sophomore Dorian Singer, who played high school football in St. Paul before transferring to Pinnacle High School in Phoenix. The Bison offered Singer before his senior year.
“Him having that success tells me that at least our recruiting department is doing a good job identifying people,” said NDSU head coach Matt Entz.
Cowing has 16 receptions in two games. Singer has nine, Wiley and Tetairoa McMillan, a 6-foot-5 true freshman who was a consensus top-five wide receiver recruit in the country, have seven each.
Entz said his secondary sees receivers of that level in the FCS, but just not as many on one team.
“I think every team in our league has a guy or two,” he said. “I think we do see some really talented young men in our league, but maybe not the depth you see now with Arizona.”