#1 North Dakota State FCS Football 2019 Preview

North Dakota State Bison
Overall Rank: #1
#1 Missouri Valley
 North Dakota State Logo
The Bison just keeps dominating the FCS. And until proven otherwise, North Dakota State is the team to beat. Once again the program must replace their head coach, this time as Chris Klieman heads to Kansas State. The Bison promoted Matt Entz to head coach after he spent the last five seasons as the defensive coordinator under Klieman.
2018 Record: 15-0, 8-0
2018 Postseason: FCS Playoffs
Coach: Matt Entz (0-0 at NDSU, 0-0 overall)
Offensive Coordinator: Tyler Roehl
Defensive Coordinator: David Braun
Returning Leaders:
Rushing: Adam Cofield, RB, 563 yards
Passing: Trey Lance, QB, 12 yards
Receiving: Ben Ellefson, TE, 194 yards
Tackles: Jabril Cox, LB, 91
Sacks: Derrek Tuszka, DE, 7.5; Cole Karcz, DT, 7.5
Interceptions: James Hendricks, S, 5
Other Key Returnees: CB Marquise Bridges, P Garret Wegner, OL Dillon Radunz
Key Losses: RB Bruce Anderson, RB Lance Dunn, RB Ty Brooks, QB Easton Stick, WR Darrius Shepherd, WR Dallas Freeman, WR Nate Jenson, OL Tanner Volson, DB Robbie Grimsley, DL Greg Menard, LB Dan Marlette, LB Levi Jordheim, DB Jalen Allison
Only three starters are back on offense, but the Bison are ready to reload. Trey Lance was a superb recruiting coup for NDSU and he will step into the starting quarterback spot as a redshirt freshman. He played in a couple games last year and completed his lone pass for 12 yards. Lance also rushed for 86 yards and two touchdowns on eight carries. Tight end Ben Ellefson is the most experienced pass catcher returning. Eight of his 14 receptions went for touchdowns. He will be a nice safety valve for Lance, but a couple receivers need to step up and emerge as consistent threats downfield. Adam Cofield is the next star at running back. The 5-11 junior rushed for 563 yards and six touchdowns on 82 carries last year and will now handle a bulk of the carries. Another redshirt freshman, Saybein Clark, should see plenty of action at running back too. With Lance adding another rushing threat, the Bison should still be one of the best rushing teams in the FCS even without Bruce Anderson, Lance Dunn and Ty Brooks.
The defense returns four starters and will reload around a handful of experienced players. On the line, Derrek Tuszka and Cole Karcz recorded 7.5 sacks each and Spencer Waege has plenty of experience as well. Jabril Cox was the MVFC Defensive Player of the Year in 2018 and will earn plenty of trophies in 2019 too. He led the Bison with 91 tackles and added 4.0 sacks, 9.5 tackles-for-loss, four interceptions and seven quarterback hurries. James Hendricks is a superb playmaker at safety and tallied five interceptions last season. Marquise Bridges and Josh Hayes have some starting experience at cornerback and are more than ready to shut down the opposing receivers.
The Bottom Line:
Cleary NDSU has some big holes to fill. That is often the case with this program though and they will reload with upperclassmen who have been sitting behind the talented departed starters and a few younger players who have the skills to make an immediate impact. The schedule has some interesting early contests against North Dakota, Delaware and UC Davis. In September the Bison will still be working out some kinks and those may not be easy games. The conference slate starts tough too with a trip to Illinois State and a home date with Northern Iowa. North Dakota State may not be perfect this season, but by the time the playoffs roll around, this team will be ready to make a push for another national championship.
Projected Postseason: FCS Playoffs
2018 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 286.2 (7th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 185.5 (88, 9)
Total Offense: 471.7 (14, 2)
Scoring Offense: 41.5 (6, 2)
Rushing Defense: 114.5 (16, 1)
Pass Defense: 174.7 (11, 1)
Total Defense: 289.3 (5, 1)
Scoring Defense: 12.6 (3, 1)
Turnover Margin: 1.27 (4, 1)
Sacks: 3.13 (7, 2)
Sacks Allowed: 0.80 (8, 1)
HERO Sports 2019 Recruit Rankings:
#21 Luke Weerts
#79 Reed Ryan
#148 Cameron Smith
#196 Javier Derritt
#205 Luke Dwyer
#246 Travis Yohnke
#273 Jalen Bussey