BOZEMAN — This week MTN Sports spoke with Northern Colorado beat writer Jadyn Watson-Fisher of the Greeley Tribune Sports to give Bobcat fans an in-depth look at the Bears ahead of Saturday’s game.
With head coach Ed McCaffery at the helm, UNC has started 2-2, but there’s a different vibe to the 2021 season with higher expectations.
“After the loss at Colorado, he stood outside the locker room and made sure to fist bump to high five every single player who was there and tell them that they played well," said Watson-Fisher of the culture that McCaffrey is trying to instill on this new program.
Freshman Gene Sledge Jr. leads the Bears rushing attack. On 49 rushes he’s gained 206 yards and has two rushing touchdowns. He was slowed down last week by Northern Arizona, who stifled him for 1.2 yards per carry 18 carries.
“He’s sheer power, but he can be dynamic," Watson-Fisher said. "If you’re going to have him run through the middle, he’s strong and he can push past defenders, but if you get him outside, he can run as well. I think that’s something that probably will surprise people because he just looks like a strong guy and he’s just going to push you over.”
Sophomore wide receiver Kassidy Woods has been a standout for the Bears. With a 6-foot-4 frame, the big target who transferred from Washington State has 255 receiving yards, almost 150 more than anyone else on the team.
“Kassidy is both very large and strong, but he’s lean," she said. That kind of makes him dependable in a sense that if he can connect with the quarterback, he’s able to run and he’s able to get around defenders. He’s got some fancy footwork. If a pass is underthrown he’s still going to try and go get it. If it’s overthrown, he’s still going to try to go and get it."
UNC sophomore defensive end David Hoage has successfully made the transition from outside linebacker, just like MSU's Daniel Hardy. Hoage, like Hardy, is third in the FCS with five sacks on the season and is a huge part of trying to make UNC a winning program. Northern Colorado is the 30th-ranked defense in yards per game.
“All of his success, it’s not that he’s not talented and he doesn’t have good training -- he definitely does," Watson-Fisher said. "I think a lot of it comes from his motivation and eagerness to be aggressive."
As for Watson-Fisher's final score prediction, she’s taking the Cats.
"I think it’s going to be relatively close. We’ll say 28-20," she said.