Concordia-Moorhead enters 2014 at number 16 in our rankings. Check out our Top 25 Season Preview for more on the top college teams to watch this fall. Can’t find your team in the Top 25? View our full rankings to see where every team stands.
Last Season: 8-2 (6-2) Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
The Cobbers weren’t the most prolific offense as far as yardage, and they weren’t the best defense by any metric, but they made the most of Griffin Neal’s efficiency at the quarterback position last season. Generally speaking, teams that finish outside the top 50 in total offense and outside the top 100 in total defense don’t make playoffs. They rarely break .500. Concordia-Moorhead averaged just shy of 400 ypg, good for 84th in D3. They were also the 141st best total defense, allowing 383.3 yards per game. Against all odds though, the 84th best offense on the same team as the 141st ranked defense made playoffs as one of the 32 best teams in D3.
Ultimately, the yards a team gains before getting to the endzone don’t matter – all that matters is paydirt. The Cobbers were 36th in scoring offense (compared to 83rd in total offense), and 93rd in scoring defense (compared to 141st in total D). They scored points when they had to and made stops when they had to, which is why they went 8-2 in the regular season. Their only losses were to MIAC champ Bethel and co-second place finisher St. Thomas. UW-Platteville ultimately ended Concordia-Moorhead’s season in the first round of the D3 playoffs with an unceremonious 54-20 clobbering.
– Ben Tamm OL – First team All-MIAC
– Mark Wychor NG – Second team All-MIAC, 23 tackles, 2 TFL
– Tyler Berling LB – First team All-MIAC, 60 tackles, 6 TFL, 2.5 sacks, 4 pass defences, 1 FF
– Kenyon O’Brien CB – First team All-MIAC, 52 tackles, .5 TFL, 5 INTs, 4 pass defences
– Bryce Hentges S/KR – Second team All-MIAC, 51 tackles, 1.5 TFL, 1 INT, 3 pass defences, 1 FR, 19 KR, 26.8-yard average, 1 TD
– Luke Peterson DB – Second team All-MIAC, 61 tackles, 5 TFL, 2 pass defences, 1 FR
– Ben Wagner PK – First team All-MIAC, 7-9 FGs (77.8%), long of 37
– Brett Harmelink P/K – Second team All-MIAC, 33 punts, average 37.8, 62 KOs, average 55.3
What to Watch For
High-Flying – Griffin Neal is a senior, and with his favorite receiver Brandon Zylstra back as well, he’ll have a good shot at another All-MIAC season. Zylstra, Matt Peterson, and Jon Baune should be primed, knowing this is their quarterback’s last shot at an MIAC title (and some of theirs as well). They’ve finished second the last two years, and while that’s the best they’ve done in the last few seasons, they’ll want more. As they should.
As usual, Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference rival Bethel is no joke; they didn’t make it to the D3 quarterfinals by accident. The Royals lost quite a few talented players from both sides of the ball though, including half of their all-conference performers. Concordia will certainly have to respect Bethel as conference big-dogs, but they also need to keep a serious eye on St. Thomas. The Tommies got quarterback Matt O’Connell back after a half a season on injured reserve and face a majority of their toughest opponents at home. Concordia on the other hand has to travel to Bethel, St. John’s, and St. Thomas – not ideal.
As talented as this Cobber team will be in 2014, I don’t see them winning the MIAC. St. Thomas is just too experienced, too hungry, and too good. The best Concordia fans should hope for is an opportunity to play spoiler – to upset either St. Thomas or Bethel on their home fields. Their third game of the season at St. John’s will be a good litmus test – if they leave 3-0, maybe fans should set their hopes a little higher. If they’re 2-1 (or worse), a co-second place finish like 2013 might even be out of reach.