Right Now, It’s Shepherd and Everybody Else

Right Now, It’s Shepherd and Everybody Else

NDSU quarterback Easton Stick is closing in on the school record for career touchdown passes neediing four more to overtake Brock Jensen’s mark of 72. This season, his favorite target to nobody’s surprise has been Darrius Shepherd. Although not at an all-conference pace with 17 receptions, Shepherd has been effective when needed with four touchdowns and a few critical first downs.

What remains to be seen for the passing game is who will develop into that No. 2 target for Stick, if anybody. In the run of Bison national titles starting in 2011, there were at least two productive receivers every year:

  • 2011:  Warren Holloway 77 receptions, Ryan Smith 44.
  • 2012: Smith 49, Zach Vraa 44.
  • 2013: Vraa 67, Smith 54.
  • 2014: Vraa 42, RJ Urzendowski 32.
  • 2015: Urzendowski 48, Shepherd 40, Vraa 40.
  • 2016: Shepherd 45, Urzendowski 31,
  • 2017: Shepherd 41, Urzedownski 38.

After Shepherd this season and among the receivers, Dallas Freeman has seven catches, Desmond Cain four, Chrisitian Watson two and Kenneth Channelle one. It appears the Bison are waiting for somebody to grab that No. 2 role, whether it’s the freshmen Watson or Phoenix Sproles, who has yet to grab is first collegiate ball. Maybe seniors Freeman and Cain will make their last season their best. It’s entirely possible, with the running game the way it’s been churning, the Bison offense can be high powered with Shepherd as the main threat and everybody else contributing. Every year is different, but at this pace, the passing game is taking a different tone than it did yearly since 2011.

View Comments (6)


  1. Never go in aganist the Bison when a Championship is on the line

    October 9, 2018 at 12:33 pm

    I think I heard Coach Klieman at the weekly presser on Monday say that the running game will discourage a defense more than the passing game. So long as that is the coaching philosophy and the Bison ‘ground and pound’ gets first downs, the number of catches will be down. Is there any team out there besides JMU and maybe SDSU (on a good day) that can hold down the Bison run game and force passes on a consistent basis for 4 quarters? And a question pertaining to next season – who is Hotchkiss (or whoever the heir apparent is) getting comfortable throwing to in practices this fall?

  2. Jeremy Romness (@jlromness)

    October 9, 2018 at 12:37 pm

    Is 2015 the only season in Bison history where 3 WRs topped 40 catches? I can’t imagine there is another one.

  3. Life Long

    October 9, 2018 at 3:28 pm

    Wouldn’t you figure that opposing D coordinators lick their chops at defending against the Bison passing game when it is this one-dimensional? Sure glad that NDSU can run the ball the way it does, but #12 would do himself a favor by spreading the ball around some more, IMO.

  4. bisonbill

    October 9, 2018 at 6:13 pm

    Unleash the tight-ends!!!!

  5. Bizmarck Bizon

    October 9, 2018 at 7:38 pm

    I’m fairly certain most all of those 2015 passes were thrown by one guy, Stick. So, if I had to bet my money on the cause for lack of “spreading it around” this year… would be target related!? I suspect some are not completely healthy?

  6. Ryan

    October 9, 2018 at 11:02 pm

    It’s interesting to note that Shepherd has gotten many of the balls thrown this year. Until they need to throw the ball more, they don’t need to. When they need to, then you may see more variety in the receivers. One thing I have noticed is there haven’t been as many TE receptions as in past years. I’m sure the coaches are well aware and are doing what they need to do to win games. As long as they are on the winning side I’m not going to question their decisions.

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