North Dakota State defense prepares for tricky Coastal Carolina offense

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FARGO, N.D. — Few teams in the last four years have been able to drive through the vaunted North Dakota State defense. Coastal Carolina is going to see if it can drive around the Bison.

The Chanticleers will bring a spread, up-tempo offense to the Fargodome on Saturday for a Football Championship Subdivision quarterfinal game against the three-time defending national champions.

It’s a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal with a few new wrinkles, said Bison defensive back Tre Dempsey, who was close to attending Coastal Carolina until NDSU came in at the last minute with a scholarship offer.
COASTAL CAROLINA AT NORTH DAKOTA STATE

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“They’ve got a lot of tricky plays, formations, schemes … that we’re really preparing hard for,” Dempsey said. “We saw them last year, but I’m sure they’ll come out with a lot more that we haven’t seen yet.”

Dempsey is the fifth defensive back when the Bison line up in the nickel formation and is likely to see a lot of time Saturday. The Chanticleers typically set up with three or even four receivers split out wide and attempt to make defenses “play sideline to sideline,” NDSU coach Chris Klieman said.

Klieman calls quarterback Alex Ross “a special player” who can hurt opponents with his arm or his feet. He has completed 65 percent of his passes and thrown for nearly 3,200 yards and 20 touchdowns. He averages nearly five yards per run. He’s 10th in the FCS in total offense.

“I think he is probably the best dual threat, throwing and running, that we have faced,” NDSU defensive end Mike Hardie said. “He has a very good arm and he is very mobile. It presents a few different challenges.’

To complicate matters, Coastal Carolina usually sets up without a huddle that leads to a cat-and-mouse game on both offensive and defensive formations. Both teams will rely on hand signals from their coaches inside the noisy Fargodome, where the expected crowd of 19,000 will be the largest Coastal Carolina has seen this year.

“I can’t even hear Schaetzy [lined up] inside of me,” Hardie said, referring to nose guard Brian Schaetz. “But they have been here before so it’s not going to be as big a shock to them hearing the noise. I’m sure they will have something in place to deal with the noise.”

Dempsey is looking forward to a familiar foe.

“It’s a big game for me,” he said. “I’m excited. I’m ready.”

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