Montana State’s Vigen Playing Alma Mater; NDSU Using Close Games As Advantage Heading into FCS Championship
Players, coaches speak for first time ahead of next Saturday's match-up
FARGO, N.D — North Dakota State football has returned from their holiday break and in day four of winter camp getting ready to make the trip south to Frisco and the FCS Championship for the 9th time in 11 years on Wednesday.
While about a quarter of the roster and the program itself have the experience of making it this far, many of the new faces have played in their fair share of close games this season to get them ready for the moment.
In the regular season, Missouri State and South Dakota State were one score games, however it was the semifinal game against James Madison that gave the Bison the most confidence after giving up a 13 point lead and preventing the Duke from a game tying touchdown in the final minutes.
“There were a lot of moments of pressure in that game. There is a big difference between stress and pressure,” head coach Matt Entz said. “Pressure of the moments you’re prepared for. Stress is when you’re not prepared. For our players to have to execute and operate in those pressure packed situations, I think that only helps you moving forward.”
“We just had a ton of resolve. A ton of competitiveness left in people and just the belief we were going to win,” defensive lineman Logan McCormick said. “That’s huge when your back is against the wall and you respond in situations like that. You can have a lot of growth from both the younger players as well as veteran players.”
It’s familiar territory for NDSU playing for a national title, however its who will be on the other sideline that’s the biggest difference this time around.
Montana state head coach Brett Vigen was part of laying the foundation for what the bison football program has become as an assistant under Craig Bohl winning the first three FCS Championships from 2011 to 2013 and coaching quarterbacks Brock Jensen and Carson Wentz.
There has been two coaching staffs since then, however coach Entz says there still has been some communication between the two.
“I know Brett relatively well. If we see each other, were going to stop and say hi,’ Entz said. “When he got the head coach position at Montana state, sent him a quick text. Just congratulating him. After beating south dakota state, did the same thing. He’s done a great job and have nothing but respect for who he has done it.”
This will be the first match-up with the Bobcats since the 2019 FCS semifinal game. NDSU went on to win the title and complete an undefeated season in year one under Entz.