Football Notebook 9/24
Idaho State quarterback Kevin Yost came into Saturday’s game against the Lumberjacks leading the nation in passing yards per game (394.3 per game,) and in total offensive yards (405 per game.)
NAU’s defense was on-point at Saturday’s game, coming away with 10 sacks and an interception at the goal line. Idaho State managed just 163 passing yards, 231 less than their average, and only 43 rushing yards.
The defense knew what they had to do to keep Yost down. “We knew we were going to get to rush the passer,” said senior defensive lineman Isaac Bond. “When you hit the quarterback like that, it affects his throw a lot and he doesn’t have that follow through.”
The offensive line opened up the field for the Lumberjacks to amass 336 rushing yards. Sophomore running back Zach Bauman, who ran for a career high 219 yards, attributes his success to the offensive line and coaches. “The offensive line was great,” Bauman said. “Without them I wouldn’t have had the performance I did. The coaches had a great scheme coming out. All week we’ve been preparing for this game and it showed today.”
Bauman started the game with a 59-yard run to put the Jacks at a 7-0 lead. Bauman and junior running back Giovannie Dixon, who had a 60-yard drive to put the Jacks in position for a 17-0 lead, clearly made the difference in this game.
Bauman also credits his quarterback, junior Cary Grossart, who made some daring runs of his own. “Cary’s a running quarterback,” Bauman said. “And as long as he doesn’t get hurt, I love a quarterback to run like that. You see your quarterback putting his shoulder down and you can’t do anything but get hyped.” Grossart pulled out 65 rushing yards featuring a 20-yard carry. Idaho State’s coverage focused on stopping the passing game, but Grossart took matters into his own hands when the opportunities were there. “I feel good,” Grossart said. “Some of those holes opened up and I just took off. I would’ve liked to make more passes today but it’s important to show that side of my game too; that if things break down, I can get some first downs and gain some yards.”
Coach Jerome Souers had been preparing the team to focus on keeping the passing game down, and running the ball on offense all week. He saw his game plan come through on Saturday. “To see defense come up the way that it did I thought was huge,” Souers said. “That’s a defense that’s very talented and they’re going to hurt some people [through] the year. And then the toughness of our offensive line and the guts of our running backs really made the difference.”
Heading into their bye week, the team is enthusiastic to have this break after a Big Sky Conference win. Souers sees this as an opportunity to work on fundamentals that could have been prevented some of the penalties from Saturday’s game. “It’s great to go into a bye with a win,” said Souers. “And we’re going to rest our guys up, make some tweaks and get ready for more Big Sky play.”