We have reached NFL Draft week, I know Carson Wentz is ready for whatever happens on Thursday, I’m not sure the rest of us are. Pleased to say myself, Jeff, Tim Frie and Dave Samson are leaving for Chicago tomorrow and our coverage will start on Wednesday. Please keep your eyes peeled on WDAY for some great content starting tonight, our sit-down with Carson will air on Tuesday.
Wentz’s Bison career officially ended in January, but now with some reflection wanted to post his top five performances during his NDSU career. Digest, debate and discuss.
5. at Missouri State (November 2014) Stat line: 15-22, 277 yards, 5 TDs, 2 INT. Some may forget this game, but remember when this happened. Wentz was coming off his worst game as NDSU was smashed at UNI, ending its record 33 game win streak. This game didn’t start off well either, Wentz threw two interceptions in the first half. Something switched after that, he only completed 15 passes on the day, but five of them went for touchdowns, tying a school record. He threw two to his cousin Connor, Zach Vraa caught a bomb and he did it while playing in nasty conditions. This is the coldest game Wentz played in (I can verify it, I was outside) 36 degrees, windy and wet.
Stat line: 16-28, 198 yards, 2 TDs, 70 rush yards, 2 rush TDs. This was the performance that got the entire nation’s attention. The FCS Kickoff game on ESPN had 981,000 viewers and for many this was their introduction to Wentz. He responded in a big time way, combining for four of NDSU’s five touchdowns, his two rushing touchdowns were a thing of beauty. Some will point out his twisted ankle and fumble may knock this grade down in terms of his performance, but think of how NDSU’s offense was humming before he got hurt and then after. It was night and day. One of his best games in my mind.
Stat line: 26-40, 335 yards, 4 TDs, 2 INT. This was the ultimate performance in my mind considering the competition. Wentz threw three touchdown passes in the fourth quarter, two to Darrius Shepherd that were a thing of beauty. The biggest play perhaps though was a fumble by Wentz that gave UNI the ball. Fortunately for NDSU, the Panthers missed a field goal and gave NDSU the ball back. Wentz then completed three terrific passes on the final drive, two terrific throws to RJ Urzendowski, including one on fourth down and another on 4th down to Zach Vraa that came on 4th and 8 that NFL scouts drool over. The out throw to the opposite sideline and Vraa tapped his foot barely inbounds. Not many could make that throw.
2. vs. Jacksonville State (January 2016)
Stat line: 16-29, 197 yards, TD, 2 INT, 2 rush TD. The numbers may not blow anyone away, but the stage was the biggest in FCS and Wentz hadn’t played in three months. He looked no worse for wear, his first rushing touchdown was as impressive as they come, rushing to the outside and diving for the endzone. His touchdown pass to Andrew Bonnet was a bullet, but he also had a couple of other lasers that got everyone’s attention, including an out route to Vraa that the NFL scouts continue to use to say this is “an NFL throw”. Wentz’s real coming out party to the nation was this game.
Stat line: 15-22, 237 yards, TD, 87 rush yards (led team), rush TD. This was the ultimate performance in my mind considering the time and stage. Tre Roberson just scampered 58 yards for a touchdown to give Illinois State a 27-23 lead. NDSU got the ball back at its own 22 yard line and promptly started with a false start penalty. After that Wentz took over, hitting Urzendowski with two tremendous throws of 32 and 13 yards to get NDSU to midfield. Then on a 3rd and 10, Wentz floated a pass that may have been a tad under thrown, but Urzendowski made a great play in the air to haul it on for a 33 yard gain down to the Redbird 5. The next play Wentz ran it in himself untouched for the game winning touchdown, securing a fourth straight championship for the Bison and Wentz a place in NDSU’s Hall of Fame.
Those are my top five. I’m sure some will argue for Iowa State and the UND game and there’s probably a couple others. What do you think, am I way off?