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Game day notebook: Bison offensive coordinator Roehl has played role in majority of NDSU's FBS victories

NDSU offensive coordinator Tyler Roehl has played a role in six of NDSU's victory against FBS opponents.

North Dakota State offensive coordinator Tyler Roehl
North Dakota State offensive coordinator Tyler Roehl has played a role in a number of Bison victories against NCAA Division I FBS opponents.
David Samson / The Forum
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FARGO — North Dakota State offensive coordinator Tyler Roehl has had a hand in nearly 70% of the program's nine victories against NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision opponents.

The West Fargo High School graduate was part of three FBS victories as a player and three more as part of the coaching staff.

Roehl is going to get another chance for an FBS win at 10 p.m. (CST) Saturday when the Bison play at the University of Arizona, which is a Power Five program in the Pac-12 Conference.

“What it is, is an amazing opportunity, an opportunity for us to see where we match up with some of your upper echelon FBS programs," Roehl said. "We consider ourselves a mid-major program and an opportunity for us to see where we match up.”

It was an 11 a.m. game in 2007 when North Dakota State defeated Minnesota 27-21 and Tyler Roehl ran for single game rushing record with 263 yards. Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor
Former North Dakota State running back and current offensive coordinator Tyler Roehl helped the Bison knock off the Minnesota Gophers during the 2007 season at the Metrodome.
Michael Vosburg / Forum Photo Editor

As a player, Roehl helped the Bison knock off Ball State in 2006 and Central Michigan and the Minnesota Gophers in 2007. Roehl rushed for a school-record 263 yards and three touchdowns on 22 attempts in a 27-21 victory against the Gophers at the Metrodome.

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“If I could pick one each, it would be the Minnesota game, the (2007) one, as a player," Roehl said. "And then the Iowa game in 2016, those are Big Ten opportunities where you felt confident going in, but at the end of the day to come out with a victory, was really big.”

The aforementioned Iowa game was in 2016 and the Bison won on Cam Pedersen's 37-yard field goal as time expired for a 23-21 victory before 70,585 fans at Kinnick Stadium. He also coached during a 2011 victory against Minnesota and 2014 win at Iowa State.

The Bison — who have won nine of the past 11 FCS national championships — are 9-3 against FBS teams. As a player, Roehl was part of FBS losses at Minnesota (2006) and at Wyoming (2008).

“It’s a football game at the end of day and it’s an opportunity to compete," Roehl said.

“We’re really excited," added Bison senior wide receiver Zach Mathis of the Arizona game. "We’re not going in there thinking we’re just going to get rolled over. We’re going in there to win, just like any other game. ... Everybody is excited. There’s juice all around the building. We’re ready to go.”

Entz: Kicking game needs more consistency

The Missouri Valley Football Conference has a travel limit of 64 players, but being its nonconference, NDSU will bring more to Arizona. Bison head coach Matt Entz said his administration has given him the green light to bring as many players as he needs.

That includes two kickers, where Entz would like to see more consistency from juniors Will Cardinal and Griffin Crosa. Cardinal is 0 of 2 on field goals and Crosa is 13 of 13 on extra-point kicks.

"We need more consistency," Entz said. "We need more elevation of the football on our PATs. It's just more consistency and that starts on Monday. I don't know if we've necessarily identified who our go-to guy is and that's frustrating because I think we've had ample opportunities but we need to get that locked down soon."

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NDSU's punting game, meanwhile, is in the consistent hands of sophomore Kaedin Steindorf. He's had five boots averaging 39.6 yards, but two of those were the shorter variety landing inside the 20-yard line.

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Wildcats want more greed on defense

A point of emphasis for Arizona this season is improving the turnover margin, which not surprisingly wasn’t good with last year’s team that finished 1-11. The Wildcats defense forced only six turnovers all season.

They’ve already taken the ball away five times after two games.

“Defensively our players have done a great job of embracing that mentality,” said Arizona head coach Jedd Fisch. “There are times that we look to try to get the ball out and we haven’t but you can see great strip attempts and opportunities there. So we’re going to continue to emphasize that.”

The Wildcats brought in a new defensive coordinator in Johnny Nansen, who came to UA after two years as the defensive line coach at UCLA. He spent the previous six years as an assistant at USC. Arizona scored just 10 points off of turnovers all of last season.

Like a lot of teams, the Wildcats have developed a prop, in this case the “turnover sword.”

“I think it’s fun,” Fisch said. “I guess it started maybe four years ago with the turnovers chain and then turned into the turnover throne and then the turnover crown. It’s a fun gimmick that seems as if a lot of teams have started to incorporate. I appreciate our guys finding something to get excited about. It’s a way for them to celebrate with the fans and celebrate with themselves and it seems to have worked so far.”

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NCAA Football: Mississippi State at Arizona
Arizona Wildcats quarterback Jayden de Laura (7) throws a pass during the first half against the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Sept. 10, 2022 at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Arizona.
Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports

Arizona ground game looking to improve

The statistic doesn’t lie for Arizona against Mississippi State last Saturday. The Wildcats averaged 1.8 yards per rushing attempt, although 25 yards in losses by quarterback Jayden de Laura didn’t help.

Junior Michael Wiley was the leading ground gainer with 49 yards on six attempts, averaging 8.2 yards per carry that was helped with a long run of 34 yards. Jonah Coleman and DJ Williams, the next two running backs, averaged just 2.4 and 1.4 yards per attempt.

“The plan for sure is that we take the last game and use it to our advantage,” Fisch said. “Losing gives you a lot of lessons right there. I think the fact of the matter is that it was a situation where we played against a good team and we played against a good defensive front. We’re a good team and we’re a good offensive front but we have to continue to improve.”

It was most glaring in time of possession last week. The Bulldogs held the ball for more than 41 minutes in a 60-minute game.

“We just weren’t in as good of a rhythm,” said Fisch, comparing last week to the 38-20 win over San Diego State to open the season.

Etc. etc. etc.

  • The Bison-Wildcat game will be NDSU's third appearance on Fox Sports 1 joining the 2013 game at Kansas State and 2014 at Iowa State.
  • It will be NDSU's first game against a Pac-12 Conference team. The Bison were scheduled to play Oregon in 2020, but the game was canceled because of the pandemic and eventually rescheduled for 2028. The Bison are scheduled to play Colorado in 2024. “We look at this as a big game," Bison quarterback Cam Miller said of Arizona. "We’ve been looking forward to this since COVID really.”
  • The Bison were ranked 58th in the Sagarin Ratings ahead of Pac-12 teams California (59), Arizona (65), Stanford (69) and Colorado (103).
  • Arizona is 15-1 all-time against FCS opponents losing only to Northern Arizona last season.
  • NDSU running back Dominic Gonnella — who is in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization — has spent the past two summers playing baseball in the Arizona Complex League.
Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.
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