FARGO-Two days later, North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman said his team "made a lot of mistakes" in the 21-17 win over South Dakota State on Saturday, Sept. 29. It was the Missouri Valley Football Conference opener for both teams.
And Klieman said his team needs to make strides forward this week with its first road game of the season on deck.
"We have to shore up a number of areas," he said during his press conference Monday, Oc.t 1. "We have to continue to play better and progress. We're still just flipping the page from September to October and we need to play our best football moving forward and our guys will learn from the tape."
Specifically, Klieman said communication on defense was a problem in the first half. The Jackrabbits owned the first quarter and threatened to take a 14-0 lead before Bison defensive back Jalen Allison intercepted a pass in the end zone.
"They came out with a number of looks that we have to be able to adjust to and I don't think we did a great job communicating what those adjustments were," Klieman said. "It took us awhile to get those things going. We were fortunate Jalen Allison made the really good play."
There's not much time to reflect on the Jackrabbits. The Bison will pack for their game at Northern Iowa that is annually one of the toughest-fought of the season.
The Panthers are 2-2 and head into the 1 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6, kickoff on the heels of back-to-back shutouts.
"It's eight one-week seasons," Klieman said of the Valley schedule. "We just finished one week of it. This will be another tough, competitive game."
The Bison did not lose a player to injury in the SDSU game who will not be able to play Saturday. Klieman said backup tight end Noah Gindorff, out last week with an ankle injury, should return to practice this week.
The SDSU win solidified NDSU's No. 1-ranking in both the FCS coaches and media top 25 polls. South Dakota State remained No. 3 in the STATS.com media poll and dropped to a tie for fourth in the coaches poll.
Bison punter Garret Wegner was honored as the Missouri Valley Football Conference Special Teams Player of the Week after averaging 47.4 yards on five punts, with three ending inside the Jacks' 20-yard line. Wegner leads the Missouri Valley and is sixth in the FCS with a 44.9-yard average.