At first glance, casual Northern Sun fans probably looked at University of Mary’s loss and thought, “I didn’t expect anything different.” Even though the Marauders fell to St. Cloud State, 14-13 Thursday evening at Husky Stadium, this loss felt different.
Maybe it’s because UMary held a lead throughout most of the game, only trailing once with 67 seconds to play in the contest. Or maybe it’s because the Marauders had a passing touchdown and catch over 50-yards for the first time since it seems like forever. However, it’s only been five games.
Or maybe it’s because they competed and that’s something fans in the blue and orange aren’t used to.
Here are some general observations from UMary’s 2018 season opener:
- Everyone talks about how improved and different the offense is going to look this year but Brett Holinka is turning this defense around quietly. The Marauders held talented SCSU running back Gregory Lewis to just 34 yards on 11 carriers. UMary also picked off Dwayne Lawhorn twice as junior Paul Guptill and redshirt freshman Marquell Evans each had one.
- UMary junior quarterback Jordan Verlarde had a solid outing and completed 18 of 32 passes for 191 yards and two total touchdowns. He also threw an interception but overall looked in the Marauders offense. I really like the fact he’s a dual-threat guy and showed his speed on his 20-yard touchdown to give UMary a 7-0 after the Brody Riggs extra point.
- The Most Valuable Player of the game, in my opinion, was UMary punter Bailey Meyer. The junior punter pinned the Huskies inside the 1-yard line once and hammered a 75-yard punt that may have gotten a few key bounces. Meyer had eight punts over 50 yards last season. You always hear coaches talk about winning all three phases of the football game: offense, defense and special teams. All three looked pretty good against the Huskies.
- I didn’t agree with UMary head coach Craig Bagnell on a few clock management moves. The Marauders had multiple fourth down’s near midfield multiple times in the fourth quarter and decided to punt on every single one of them. They had a fourth-and-1 at SCSU’s 47-yard line and punted. They had a fourth-and-1 with 5:04 left at the 50-yard line and punted and then their next drive they had a fourth-and-6 at their own 48-yard line with 2:45 to play and punted. Now we can go back and dissect every single move that Bagnell made, which isn’t totally fair but those are three plays that I look and think maybe UMary should’ve gone for it on fourth down one of those times. Also, Bagnell going for two after the 51-yard pass and catch from Velarde to Tyson Carney was a mistake. Attempt the extra point and move on. This team has a long road ahead of itself but the ship is headed in the right direction.