Week 1 Game Preview – Wyoming Cowboys

The Game Vitals

Game Time – 3:00 CT

Opponent – Wyoming Cowboys.  War Memorial Stadium – Laramie, WY.

Game Notes – UND   Wyoming

TV – None – Radio Only

Online Streaming – None – Radio Only                                                                     

Spread – Wyoming – 18.5.   Total = 47

Wyoming Breakdown

— Offense = Pro-style, FB-TE, 2 WR’s.

— Defense = 4-3

Offensively, the Cowboys employ the same system that NDSU ran when Craig Bohl was there.  Offensive coordinator Brent Vigen runs a pro-style, run oriented attack that loads up with multiple tight ends and fullbacks and tries to pound the ball as much as they can.  If its working they will keep doing it.

The Cowboys have a two-headed monster at running back again this year.  Brian Hill and Shaun Wick are both outstanding backs that compliment each other nicely and allow for a fresh back in the game at all times.  Wick, a senior, has rushed for over 2,000 yards in his career.  Hill, a true sophomore, rushed for over 750 yards last season.  We fully expect the Cowboys to get these two the ball well over 40 times on Saturday.

At quarterback, transfer Cameron Coffman (Indiana) has won the camp-long QB battle over juco transfer Josh Allen.  Coffman, 6’2-198, if more of a pocket passer who put up some decent numbers for the Hoosiers in his career, throwing for over 2,700 yards and 15 TD’s in 14 games.  We see Coffman being a game-manager type vs. UND, being he will be called upon a few times to hit the big one over the top once the running game gets going.

Defensively, Wyoming uses the same 4-3 “Tampa 2” scheme that Bohl ran at NDSU.  Last season they didn’t bring a whole lot of pressure, instead electing to sit back and react up out of their cover 2 look.  Without a doubt, the strength of the defense is the defensive line.  Led by all-conference pick #55 Eddie Yarborough, they do an excellent job at stopping the run game.

The weakness of the Cowboy defense will be the secondary.  They are extremely young back there, choosing to go with multiple freshmen due to the poor play from the incumbents last season.  This will be an area to watch listen for on Saturday.

Wyoming gave up 33 pts/game last season, which is obviously not acceptable.  The youth movement they have made is their answer to try and shore that up, eventually.  UND will have some chances to try and take advantage of that youth.

North Dakota Keys to the Game

  1. Being it’s the first game of the year for both teams, there is going to be a long feeling out period.  Wyoming is going to continue to try and establish their run game as long as they are still comfortable with the way the game is going.  The UND front seven needs to build off last season’s success in stopping the run and win the line of scrimmage.  If Wyoming gets their ground game going , UND is going to be in for a long day.
  2. We feel Wyoming is going to load up on offensive with tight ends and fullbacks and try to pound UND early.  They have traded/flipped the tight ends/fullbacks in the past to create an unbalanced line and we see that happening again.  Anything to try and get numbers on the edge and then hand it off to their stud RBs.
  3. We all know UND will want to establish the run.  But, the passing game and Keaton Studsrud hitting on timely throws will be the difference in this one.  The strength of the Wyoming defense is the front four.  The weakness is the back four.  Studsrud and his WR’s need to come up with timely third down connections and hit the big one when it’s dialed up.
  4. UND will be traveling with all six running backs on Saturday.  Which one’s will actually play is still the big question.  Our guess is there will be at least three of them carrying the ball but which three?
  5. If safeties Zach Arnell and Cole Reyes have solid day in the tackling department UND has a chance.  There are going to be many times where Hill and Wick break through.  If the UND safeties can cle
  6. Don’t give up the huge play on defense.  Limiting their big runs will force Wyoming to have to work their way down the field.  The inside/gap screen that they run so well is a killer to opposing defenses.  UND needs to recognize it early, react up and tackle it for an average gain.  If UND can make them snap it again they will always have a chance to make something happen defensively.

The Prediction

This could be a winnable FBS game for UND.  Both programs are in their 2nd seasons under new head coaches, so growing pains are still in the mix on each side.  Minimizing bad mistakes will be the key for both teams.  Controlling the tempo of the game, sustaining drives, eliminating turnovers and having young, new faces step up will be key.  UND QB Keaton Studsrud will be under the microscope in terms of seeing how he has progressed and matured since late last season.  There are going to be very few surprises on Saturday as both staff’s know each other so well.

Wyoming  26

North Dakota  20

 

 

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Q & A with WyoNation

As the start of the 2015 season nears, we were approached by Chad Smith of WyoNation.com about doing a Q&A session with them to allow the fan bases to learn more about their opponent.   Our answers to their questions can be found on their website (link above).

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Is Coach Bohl running the same offense and defense that he ran at NDSU?

Yes, Craig Bohl is running the same offensive and defensive systems that he did at NDSU. The offense is a run based west-coast system that I’m sure you guys have seen ran to much success over the past few years. Last season Wyoming ran the ball 54% of the time and had a true freshman Brian Hill rush for a Mountain West record of 281 yards in a single game. So the rushing attack is still the bread and butter of a Craig Bohl attack.

Defensively Wyoming is utilizing Bohl’s bend but don’t break 4-3 using the Tampa Cover 2. Unfortunately for Wyoming last year they broke quite a bit and gave up 32.8 points per game while facing some high powered offenses such as Oregon and Michigan State. With a young secondary and undersized linebackers, I’m not sure there will be much improvement but the defense does have the potential to improve as the season goes along.

Tell us about transfer QB Cameron Coffman (Indiana).  What style of QB
is he and what are his strengths?

Being a senior transfer who had to sit out last year, I can’t tell you much about Cameron Coffman as we have never seen him in live action wearing a Wyoming uniform. In this year’s spring game, he was 14 of 20 for 178 yards and a touchdown but that is not much to judge on so we are excited to see what he can offer in this system come Saturday.

He does have a fair amount of experience though playing in 14 games at Indiana and in his lone year as a starter (2012) he ranked 2nd in the Big 10 in passing yards averaging 248 yards per game. That was in a spread offense and he has had to make an adjustment to the west coast system and the coaches have indicated he has adapted to the system well and is making the proper reads after sitting out and watching for a year.

Style wise based on his time at Indiana I think you will see a QB who is very much a pocket passer but has enough mobility to escape the rush or run the bootleg game that you often see west coast offense’s use to move the quarterback outside in the passing game. His skill-set should be a good match for this Wyoming offense.

What part of the team would you say is the strength of this year’s squad?

The strength of this Wyoming team is the running back position. The starter is Sean Wick a hard running RB who gets downhill and knows where to find a hole. He has racked up 2,082 yards in his previous three seasons. His back-up is the previously mentioned Brian Hill who ran for 796 yards as a true freshman when Wick was out injured last season. The third string back looks to be true freshman Kellen Overstreet who is the first Parade All-American to attend the University of Wyoming. In high school at Missouri Overstreet ran for 4,259 yards as a senior the 4th highest total in the history of high school football in a single season. Wyoming feels so good about this position they moved RB D.J May to defense even though he himself had rushed for 629 yards over his first two seasons in Laramie as a running back.

What is the biggest area of concern coming into Saturday’s game vs. UND?

Biggest area of concern is definitely the secondary. Due to position changes, health, personal and academic reasons Wyoming returns only 2 players in the secondary who have ever played a college football game. The Pokes have 5 freshman or redshirt freshman listed on the two deep and these players will be learning on the job in the first few games this season. North Dakota may be able to advantage of this in the passing game.

For Wyoming to win the season opener vs. a lower-level FCS team, this
has to happen on Saturday…..

Wyoming will have to establish the running game in order to run clock and wear down the North Dakota defense in the 4th quarter. Last season Wyoming played FCS powerhouse Montana and won 17-12 with 239 rushing yards. Based on last year’s FCS rankings North Dakota limited opponents to 102 yards per game compared to Montana’s 148 yards per game so it should be a good test for Wyoming to see if they can establish the running game.

Can you also address the issue with elevation, what it is, and how teams
take steps to help?

War Memorial Stadium is situated at 7,220 feet and trust me you will not forget that with all the 7220 signage and signs asking the opposition, “How’s your oxygen?” around.

Through the years I have seen it all when it comes to teams dealing with the altitude. There are two schools of thought:

  1. Arrive to the game as late as you can
  2. Arrive as early as possible

Dealing with altitude is not mental and is purely as physiological situation. Your breath will be short, your lungs will burn and it can make things pretty miserable. Studies show that sports teams should arrive as early as possible in order for their players to acclimate which usually takes up to 2 days for maximum performance.

The only other advice I would give is to drink plenty of water and to drink it often. Altitude does weird things to the body and drinking water is one way to combat some of these symptoms.

 

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Depth Chart Released and Captains Named

Coach Bubba Schweigert named his four captains for the 2015 Football season yesterday.  As anticipated, he selected the best representatives for the UND program, on and off the field.  The following seniors were selected as captains:

OG Brandon Anderson – Sartell, MN

TE Zach Adler – Omaha, NE 

OLB Dayo Idowu – Woodbury, MN

ILB Will Ratelle – Edina, MN

Outstanding selections by Coach Schweigert.

The Depth Chart was released today and there were a few surprises.  We present with comments below:

NORTH DAKOTA OFFENSE
LT 78 A.J. Stockwell (So., 6-5, 290)
LT 70 Kevin Camy (Jr., 6-6, 305)

LG 71 Brandon Anderson (Sr., 6-6, 310)
LG 76 Dan Bell (So., 6-5, 310)

C 73 Colton Boas (Sr., 6-1, 315)
C 72 Mat Cox (So., 6-5, 290)

RG 61 Brandon Miller (So., 6-5, 290)
RG 65 Demon Taylor (Fr., 6-4, 310)

RT 63 Sean Meehan (Sr., 6-5, 300)
RT 75 Adam Stiner (Fr., 6-6, 280)

WRX 11 Miguel Cerriteno (Sr., 6-2, 195)
WRX 2 Brandon Walker (So. 6-1, 185)

WRY 1 Clive Georges (6-1, 170)
WRY 16 Romon Bridges (5-8, 170)

WRB 23 Josh Seibel (So., 5-11, 180)
WRB 81 Luke Stanley (Fr., 6-4, 215)

QB 7 Keaton Studsrud (So., 6-1-195)
QB 6 Ryan Bartels (So., 6-3, 220)

TE 36 Zach Adler (Sr., 6-3, 250)
TE 45 Luke Mathewson (Jr., 6-5, 255)

RB 22 John Santiago (Fr., 5-9, 170)
RB 42 Kyle Norberg (So. 6-3, 220)

As we expected, sophomore incumbent Keaton Studsrud has been named the starter for the Wyoming game.  We have been told Studsrud has done a nice job running the offense and has a great presence in the huddle, etc.  Leadership qualities appear to be one of the main differences in this one.  He will need to show significant improvement off his poor numbers last season when he was thrown into the fire due to injuries to Joe Mollberg and Ryan Bartels.  We didn’t expect much then but we do now.

We did not expect John Santiago to be the starting RB in Laramie.  We have been told that injuries are skewing this depth chart a bit and Arrington will more than likely be the starter if he is ready to go.  Santiago is more than likely to take on a role much like Weston Dressler did as a true freshman:  return kicks and punts and play a few snaps upon need.

Mat Cox is going to be the swiss army knife of the offensive line.  Any injury across the line and Cox will be the man to fill it.  Any of the five.

Freshman Elijah Grady will only play this season if there are injuries along the offensive line.  The staff is hoping to redshirt him if possible.

Expect every freshman RB to play this year.  Injuries are bound to happen and true freshmen Brady Oliveira, Iwarri Smith, John Santiago, and perhaps even Austin Gordon need to be ready.  Gordon has been a huge surprise and is a solid talent back there.

If AJ Stockwell stays healthy he could be the X factor this year along the OL.  Has made huge strides in fall camp and has a nasty way about him on the field.

If Stockwell or Meehan get hurt don’t be surprised if Brandon Anderson moves out to either tackle spot to take over.

Our speculation is that UND went with the guys who were performing the best at 100% health on this initial depth chart.  Some things are going to change by next Saturday, guaranteed.   But, sometimes coaches use these public depth charts as motivation to a few players who need a kick in the backside.

NORTH DAKOTA DEFENSE
ZOLB 48 Jake Disterhaupt (So., 6-1, 210)
ZOLB 37 Javen Butler (Sr., 6-2, 200)

LDE 43 Drew Greely (So., 6-3, 250)
LDE 93 Alec Carrothers (Jr., 6-2, 245)

NG 97 Kyle Woodsmall (Sr., 6-4, 270)
NG 93 Alec Carrothers (Jr., 6-2, 245)

RDE 99 Brandon Dranka (So., 6-2, 235)
RDE 91 Austin Cieslak, (Fr., 6-4, 280)

SOLB 31 Dayo Idowu (Sr., 6-2, 225)
SOLB 12 Brian Labat (Jr., 6-3, 235)

SILB 51 Will Ratelle (Sr., 5-11, 250)
SILB 26 Connor O’Brien (So., 6-1, 225)

WILB 32 Taj Rich (Jr., 6-1, 225)
WILB 54 Dylan Bakker (Jr., 6-2, 235)

LCB 21 Chris Brown (Sr., 5-8, 165)
LCB 27 Jahmere Irvin-Sills (So., 5-10, 175)

FS 20 Zach Arnell (Jr., 6-2, 195)
FS 38 William James (Jr, 5-11, 190)

SS 8 Cole Reyes (So., 6-2, 215)
SS 10 Jawon Johnson (Jr., 6-2, 210)

RCB 19 Deion Harris (So., 6-3, 190)
RCB 3 Tyus Carter (Fr., 5-11, 180)

Less to talk about here as there aren’t many surprises and there’s more certainty and experience returning across the board on this side of the ball.

The linebacker position is the same as it always was.  The only addition is that freshman Dylan Harmston will get some time at ZOLB position.  He would bring off-the-edge speed to the position, much like Disterhaupt.

At noseguard, Tank Harris appears to be the #2, but with his 1 game suspension, Carrothers has moved down inside to add some depth there along with his natural position at DE.  True freshman NG Steve Greer will play this year, and Nick Schmitz has been a pleasant surprise as well.

It appears true freshman Tyus Carter passed up a couple guys on the depth chart at corner to make the 2 deep.  Soph. Chris Carter still has a lot of football left in him and needs to continue to improve and develop his balls skills, based on what we have seen.  He is a very good tackler however.  Jahmere Irvin-Sills would be the 3rd corner into the game if Deion Harris or Chris Brown were to go down.

We’ve been impressed with safety Zach Arnell, who has come in since last winter and picked things up well enough in a short time span to make the starting lineup.  He has shown good instinctive play back there.  Jawon Johnson might be a #2 at this time, but we guarantee he will play a lot of football this year on defense and special teams.  He needs to develop mentally more with his knowledge of the defense.

We would appreciate any comments/questions you may have concerning the depth chart, UND Football, etc!

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More Camp Stuff

OFFENSE

  1. Offensive Line Coach Luke Knauf is doing a nice job with his group. They seem to be understanding the changes in footwork, calls, etc. that he brought to the program last year.  He is instilling a tough-minded nasty attitude in his lineman and they are playing that way more and more every week.
  2. With Brandon Miller returning at RG, the battle begins between he and Demon Taylor for the starting nod.  The darkhorse candidate here would be true freshman Elijah Grady, who is not your average freshman O-lineman.
  3. If we had to guess who will start at QB it would be Keaton Studsrud, as the depth chart dictates. He hasn’t particularly stood out or separated himself through making huge plays in the passing game, but the offense in general from the huddle to the cadence, seems to flow better with him at the controls.  We still maintain and believe, like we have since the end of last season & springball, that Studsrud will be the starter when UND heads to Laramie.
  4. We actually think Ryan Bartels might be the #2 right now with Joe Mollberg coming in at #3.  We also expect to see Mollberg improve during the next month when he starts to get more confident in his leg and gets more reps.  Both of these guys still have HUGE value to the team right now.  There’s no question that one and/or both will be called on this season.
  5. WR/RB John Santiago came into camp in great shape and has been turning some heads of late with his quickness and playmaking ability. At 5’8”, Santiago obviously relies on his speed/quickness to make a difference and he has done that several times thus far in camp.  He will be playing this fall.   We are told Santiago will take on a role very similar to another diminutive WR who didn’t redshirt some years back – Weston Dressler.  Punt returns, kick returns and a few snaps at WR and RB.  Pretty “slashy”.
  6. Josh Seibel and Miguel Cerriteno appear to be the #1 WR’s. Both have had great fall camps.  Clive Georges and walk-on surprise Luke Stanley will be backing them up.  Both of those players will get significant reps as well.
  7. Tim Dulin will more than likely redshirt. He could use a year in the program to develop.  He will be a bigtime playmaker with 15-20 more pounds on him and a stronger core.
  8. The RB position is down to 2 players right now. Yes, TWO.  Kyle Norberg and true freshman Austin Gordon are taking the reps today.  Ja’Won Arrington, Brady Oliveira, and now Iwarri Smith are out due to lower body injuries.  Smith was injured in the scrimmage.  All three are expected back in a 2 days-2 weeks.
  9. With Santiago, Oliveira and Smith all getting reps, you could see all 3 getting their redshirts pulled given the depth at RB right now.  All 3 bring different assets to the table.  Oliveira has the most physically ready body.  Smith has the special speed and quickness.  The question and challenge for both of them hold will be pass protection.  Can they figure where to go and fit into the protections, and when they get there, can they execute and sustain a block?
  10. It would be outstanding if freshmen TE Luke Fiedler (6’5”) could become the downfield pass-catching threat UND has not had for several years. He made a long catch in the scrimmage that showed his potential.
  11. TE Zach Adler has had a great camp and will be counted on heavily this fall at the TE and FB positions.

DEFENSE

  1. As of today, it appears the starters at cornerback would be Deion Harris and Chris Brown. The sophomore and senior, respectively, have looked the best even though Harris missed a couple practices.  Chris Carter and Jahmere Irvin-Sills would back them up.  This competition, like many others, is not over, however.
  2. It’s starting to feel like CB Tyus Carter might get his redshirt pulled. The kid is solid in technique and has enough of a physically mature body to play now.  He’s also been getting a lot of reps.
  3. Safety Zach Arnell had a nice scrimmage and could be positioning himself to be the starter opposite Cole Reyes. Jawon Johnson and Arnell will be battling it out until fall camp is over.  It’s a good competition right now, but we give the edge to Arnell. He, Johnson and Reyes all go around 6’2”, which would give UND size they haven’t had back there in years.  All 3 of these guys will be relied on throughout the season at safety.
  4. New Mexico transfer Daquan Bakers looks like he has a chance to be a difference maker.  He will play behind Will Ratelle, but will no doubt be in the rotation immediately and contribute on special teams.  He’s still young, but has the body of a veteran who has been in the program’s strength and conditioning for a few years.  We are excited to see what he can do on the field.
  5. At noseguard, it looks like veteran Kyle Woodsmall will be the starter right away.  His experience and knowledge of the defense give him the edge right now.  Tank Harris should be the #2 here.  The 6-3, 300 pound redshirt freshman just needs to get some playing time under his belt to gain confidence.  Behind them, it appears true freshman Steve Greer will be the #3.   Like most freshmen, he’s very raw from a technical standpoint, but has the requisite strength to hold up in the ‘A’ gaps.
  6. We have been impressed with true freshman OLBs Keelan Poole and Jade Lawrence.  While we fully expect both to redshirt, these two look like they will be difference makers in the future off the edge.
  7. When Jake Disterhaupt was signed and arrived on campus, we weren’t really sure where he would fit best for position.  His offensive prowess got him the attention in high school, so everyone assumed receiver or RB is where he would end up, but we projected him on the defensive side of the ball as a safety or linebacker.  It’s amazing to see how he’s developed as a OLB in a short time.  He is now expected to be one of the top playmakers as a sophomore on the UND defense.
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Week 1 Thoughts

We have purposely waited to give our view on UND’s fall camp to date.  Usually the first 2 practices are light and don’t yield much.  Now that UND has 7 full practices in we have compiled some thoughts on what we have seen and heard thus far in camp:

There is a scrimmage tomorrow morning (Saturday) at 8:30am for anyone who wants to check out the team.  This will be the only scrimmage of fall camp so make it out if you can.

We see the WR’s are up to their usual tricks of running “unique” routes in 1-on-1’s to try and get open.  Some of the routes don’t even exist in football-they may have come from the Sigma Chi flag football route tree.  :)

It is somewhat apparent who stayed in town for the summer to workout and who went home.  Many nagging/minor injuries are a result of not being in peak physical condition day one.

NG Tank Harris is doing an decent job in his first snaps with the #1s.  Hold the line, bull rush, stay home.   He is a big, powerful man at 6’2”-300 – needs to man those A gaps.  Will come with reps.

NG Steve Greer is a beast at 6’1”-285.   Just a naturally strong, big ox type of player.  At this point of his career the bull rush/pure effort is his best bet and if he can get underneath the OL he is usually going to do alright.

The QB battle seems to be a Keaton Studsrud vs. Joe Mollberg battle at this point.  Mollberg is coming back nicely from his achilles tendon injury but is not quite 100% yet, which is to be expected.  Studsrud has done OK in this young fall camp.  Way to early to call who will be the starter on Sept 5th.  We will dig into the QB battle more next week once more has been shown.

LT AJ Stockwell is a work in progress.  Has his moments (stoning Dranka off the edge) but struggles at times with the OLB speed rushers.  Needs a full fall camp to get multiple reps in.  The ability is there but Stockwell needs to stay healthy and get as much exposure as he can to those edge rushers.

RT Sean Meehan is a rock.  He has looked solid and can be counted on with 100% certainty.  The senior will play either RT or LT based on need.

Like Meehan, fellow senior Brandon Anderson is the guy at LG.  He has picked up where he left off last fall and should have an outstanding season for the UND offense.

OL Mat Cox has been the utility man thus far in camp.  Seen him playing center, guard and tackle.  Center would be the position where he would get the most immediate playing time as he is battling incumbent starter Colton Boas.

We see OL Kevin Camy moving down to guard at some point.  He has had his share of struggles vs. edge rushers out at the OT position.

RG Elijah Grady (true freshman) has done OK in his first week.  Held his own at times and got beat a few times.  To be expected.  But by all accounts he is what they call a “one-timer”.  Tell him once and he is able to make the adjustment and it won’t happen again.  That’s huge in the football world, coaches love that.

Freshmen Patric Rooney is playing center.  That may be a good position for him in the future based on his size (6’4”-280) and agility.

The corner position is still up in the air.  The veterans, like Chris Brown and Chris Carter, look the most comfortable and are playing well.  Deion Harris has had a nagging leg injury that has kept him out a couple practices but should be fine.  Charles Flowers will be a backup.

Transfer CB Jahmere Irvin-Sills has a ways to go with conditioning, it appears.  He has his wrist wrapped so we believe he has missed out on full-time training coming in.  By the end of fall camp he should be ready to go.

DE transfer Noah Johnson has great hands and well-refined pass rush moves.  He will be great to have opposite DE Brandon Dranka in the dime package when they go to a 4-man defensive line.

WR Josh Seibel is slowly turning into the undisputed leader of the WR corps.  He is usually the first one in line to do drills and has been making outstanding catches in camp, including a full-body diving catch along the sideline that was amazing.

—Here is an early list of true freshmen we could see getting their redshirts pulled:

RG Elijah Grady – has the size and footwork needed.  Now just needs reps.  Big, strong kid who would take his lumps early but would grow exponentially as the season went on.

WR Tim Dulin – all of 6’4”.  Lanky but can run routes fluidly and has good hands.  If they need a taller WR due to injuries, Dulin would get the call.

NG Steve Greer – just a brute down in the trenches.  Nothing pretty but he is so naturally strong that he can hold his own while he tries to figure what’s going on.  Greer was injured today, did not appear serious but we will know more next week.

RB Brady Oliveira – Ja’Won Arrington is the starter but has recently injured his ankle and could be out for a short while.  That will give the physically ready Oliveira a shot at more valuable reps with the #1s and #2s.  He has shown legit speed and moves in the open field.  Oliveira appeared to have injured his ankle today in practice so that is definitely something to keep any eye on as we move through camp.

RB Iwarri Smith – The sleeker, faster Smith will provide a nice compliment to Oliveira, Kyle Norberg, and Arrington, who are all more of the power-back type.  Smith can also return kickoffs which would makes him more valuable.

CB Tyus Carter looks the part.  He will have a bright future with continued work.  At this point they don’t need him to play but with an injury or two that could change.

 

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UND High Performance Center

Here are a few more pictures of the UND High Performance Center as of today, August 12th.  The turf is all finished and the work crew appears to be cleaning up the walls, windows, etc.  They are waiting to install the track surfacing until the concrete has fully bled out.

The large wall posters of former football, track, baseball, and cross country greats from the past  really add a nice finishing touch to the building – making it feel like a “UND Athletics” facility.

Right when you walk in at ground level is the canopy/viewing area that you see in the pictures below.  The light ring located directly above the track is a really cool touch, also.

 

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Freshmen Numbers and More

 

Transfers and Number Changes

1  Georges, Clive WR Jr. Key West, Fla. (Arizona)
2*  Walker, Brandon WR So. Flint, Mich. (Carman-Ainsworth High School)
3  Arrington, Ja’Won RB Sr. Birmingham, Ala. (UAB)
15  Reed, Alex WR Jr. Council Bluffs, Iowa (Iowa Western CC)
20  Arnell, Zach DB Jr. Rancho Bernardo, Calif. (Santa Barbara CC)
27  Irvin-Sills, Jahmere DB So. Elkton, MD (Mississippi State Univ.)
30  Baker, DaQuan LB RFr. Compton, Calif. (New Mexico)
40*  Francis, Jacob TE RFr. Liberty, Mo. (Liberty High School)
54*  Bakker, Dylan LB RJr. Amsterdam, Netherlands (West Hills CC)
65*  Taylor, Demon OG RFr. St. Louis, Mo. (Soldan International Studies)
70  Camy, Kevin OT Jr. Visalia, Calif. (Butte College)
82*  Holmen, Jacob LS So. Minot, N.D. (Minot High School)
95  Johnson, Noah DL Jr. Murrieta, Calif. (City College of San Francisco)
91*  Cieslak, Austin DL RFr. Hazen, N.D. (Hazen High School)

*Denotes returning player who changed numbers

True Freshmen Numbers

3  Carter, Tyus DB Greenwood Village, Colo. (Cherry Creek High School)
5  Oliveira, Brady RB Winnipeg, Manitoba (Oak Park High School)
9  Heidlebaugh, Brad QB Rugby, N.D. (Rugby High School)
11  Lawrence, Jade LB Moorhead, Minn. (Moorhead High School)
12  Hartness, Aidan QB Fargo, N.D. (Davies High School)
21  Gordon, Austin RB Maple Grove, Minn. (Wayzata High School)
22  Santiago, John RB St. Francis, Minn. (St. Francis High School)
25  Smith, Iwarri RB Farmington Hills, Mich. (Harrison High School)
33  Palmborg, Tanner DB Princeton, Minn. (Princeton High School)
44  Rodgers, Donnell LB Woodbury, Minn. (Woodbury High School)
49  Poole, Keelan LB Aurora, Colo. (Grandview High School)
50  Steiger, Andre LB Glen Ellyn, Ill. (Glenbard South High School)
52  Wilson, Carter DL Ottawa, Ontario (Amprior District High School)
55  Bennett, Mason DE Winnipeg, Manitoba (Vincent Massey High School)
58  Shaide, Brock LB Missoula, Mont. (Big Sky High School)
64  Alm, Logan DL Hawley, Minn. (Hawley High School)
67  Rooney, Patric OL St. Louis Park, Minn. (Benilde-St. Margaret’s School)
68  Blair, Bryce OL Greenwood Village, Colo. (Cherry Creek High School)
69  Nelson, Ted DE Brainerd, Minn. (Brainerd High School)
74  Grady, Elijah OL New Town, N.D. (New Town High School)
77  Greer, Steve DL Ballwin, Mo. (Parkway South High School)
79  Merz, Justus OL Eudora, Kan. (Eudora High School)
80  Hartness, Tristan WR Fargo, N.D. (Davies High School)
83  Blackwell, Carter WR Dickinson, N.D. (Dickinson High School)
84  Dulin, Tim WR Livonia, Mich. (Churchill High School)
87  Keller, Luke TE Bismarck, N.D. (Bismarck High School)
96  Denny, Kemuel DL Indianapolis, Ind. (Pike High School)
98  Engwall, Carl DE Lakeville, Minn. (Lakeville North High School)

  • Per media day, RB Oscar Nevermann decided to stay with the UND Football program and will sit out this fall after transferring to UND from Wyoming last winter.   He was going to transfer to UT-Permian Basin, a startup D2 program but did not.  Because Wyoming childishly wouldn’t release the former walk-on to an FCS program, he has to sit out and presumably play on the scout team this fall.
  • UND defensive coordinator Eric Schmidt pointed to cornerback and nose guard as the two areas of concern entering fall camp.  CB was helped by the addition of Jahmere-Irvin-Sills and Vashon Tucker so we are worried less about CB than NG.  UND is going to have to try several defensive lineman at NG to see who can make the biggest difference at that thin/inexperienced position.  True freshman Steve Greer will get a hard look during camp.

 

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Fall Camp Is On

Welcome to UND Football 2015.  The team has officially begun team meetings, gear fitting, more meetings, physicals, compliance, and eventually practice.  Below is the schedule for camp and as you can see the first official practice on the field is Saturday morning at 8:30am.

2015 Fall Camp Practice Schedule
Thursday, Aug. 6 Media Day Luncheon – 11:30 a.m.
Saturday, Aug. 8  Practice No. 1  8:30 a.m. Helmets and Shorts
Sunday, Aug. 9  Practice No. 2  8:30 a.m. Half Pads
Monday, Aug. 10  Practice No. 3  8:30 a.m. Half Pads
Tuesday, Aug. 11  Practice No. 4  8:30 a.m. Half Pads
Wednesday, Aug. 12  Practice No. 5  8:30 a.m. Full Pads
Thursday, Aug. 13  Practice No. 6  8:30 a.m. Full Pads
–                                 Practice No. 7 3:30 p.m. Half Pads
Friday, Aug. 14  Practice No. 8 8:30 a.m. Full Pads
Saturday, Aug. 15  Practice No. 9 8:30 a.m. Full Pads
–                               Practice No. 10 3:30 p.m. Half Pads
Sunday, Aug. 16 OFF
Monday, Aug. 17  Practice No. 11 8:30 a.m. Full Pads
Tuesday, Aug. 18  Practice No. 12 8:30 a.m. Full Pads
–                                Practice No. 13 3:30 p.m. Half Pads
Wednesday, Aug. 19  Practice No. 14 8:30 a.m. Full Pads
Thursday, Aug. 20  Practice No. 15 8:30 a.m. Full Pads
–                                  Practice No. 16 3:30 p.m. Half Pads
Friday, Aug. 21  Practice No. 17 8:30 a.m. Full Pads
Saturday, Aug. 22  Practice No. 18 8:30 a.m. Full Pads
–                                 Practice No. 19 3:30 p.m. Half Pads
Sunday, Aug. 23 OFF
Monday, Aug. 24  Practice No. 20 9 a.m. Full Pads
Tuesday, Aug. 25 OFF
Wednesday, Aug. 26  Practice No. 21 3:30 p.m. Full Pads
Thursday, Aug. 27  Practice No. 22 3:30 p.m. Full Pads
Friday, Aug. 28  Practice No. 23 3:30 p.m. Full Pads

UND recently received it’s ninth commitment to the Class of 2016 in OT Bennett Helgren of Edina High School (MN).  Helgren, 6’6″-290, is the second OL in the class (Noah Mortel) and appears to have outstanding athletic ability.  He looks like a prototypical tackle for UND in the future.

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2015 Position Group Thoughts

As we get closer to the start of Fall Camp 2015 (Aug. 6th), now might be a good time to look at the team by positions groups.  UND has added a handful of transfers since Christmas break, which changed the look of a few groups.  I didn’t address every position group as some need to be viewed in fall camp before anybody could possibly get an idea of where they are at (QB & RB).

Most Improved:  Safety

  • The safety position was arguably the weakest or most inconsistent last season.  This was a major reason why UND gave up a 38% conversion rate on third down.  They played tough on 1st and 2nd downs but then would give up a third and long that would keep them on the field.
  • With that being said, I am a huge fan of safety Cole Reyes.  The sophomore from Illinois is built like a linebacker (6’2″-220) but had the some of the best testing numbers on the entire team.  He has a year under his belt and we looking for big things from Reyes this fall.
  • To go with Reyes, UND added transfer safeties Jawon Johnson and Zach Arnell.  They go 6’2″ & 6’3″, respectively, and add much needed height on the back end.  Johnson showed very good play-making ability this past spring, while Arnell was injured.  A huge positive for UND is that both of them were able to learn the defense and should be ready to fly come August 8th (first practice).
  • When UND goes to a dime package, it is possible Arnell, Johnson and Reyes will be on the field at the same time.  That will look pretty.
  • Improved safety play, which in my opinion is a given, will make the UND defense much better this season.  They still need more depth at the position but they are starting to look the right way when it comes to the eye test.

Biggest Question Mark:  Cornerback

  • True sophomore Deion Harris will be a starter at one corner, that much is known.  At 6’4″, he brings so many unique traits that I have never seen at the corner position before.  He actually has pretty fluid hips and good speed to go with that frame.  Playing as a true freshman will be a huge boost for him in 2015.  If his technique has developed like we think it should have, he could be in line for a big year.
  • The other side of the field is big question mark.  Senior Chris Brown and sophomore Chris Carter will be duking it out with newly signed transfer Jahmere Irvin-Sills (Mississippi State).  Brown played much better in 2014 than he did his previous two seasons at UND, including a huge Pick 6 vs. the Griz at the Alerus Center.  The downfall of both Brown and Carter are they only go about 5’9″ so matchups in the Big Sky become an issue, where teams like to pick on small corners with their big WR’s.
  • Sophomore Charles Flowers is a wildcard at the corner position.  He was injured in the spring after redshirting in 2014.  I was told he made huge gains in the strength and conditioning department but we still don’t know what they’ve got in Flowers yet.
  • It appears UND will be signing CB/S Vashon Tucker from Eastern Christian Academy in Maryland.  Tucker is close with Irvin-Sills and that is what brought him to Grand Forks.  He reclassified to the Class of 2015 but it seems as if he needed to graduate before he was eligible or something along those lines.  He had many FBS offers in 2014 which means he is definitely a threat to play immediately.
  • UND has 5 cornerbacks that can play but they don’t know which one’s can be counted on yet.  This is the reason for the ‘question mark’ tag.

Wait and See What We Got:  Defensive Line

  • The defensive line won’t be the most talented group on the field for UND this fall but they won’t be far behind.  This is what I would describe as a lunch pail group that has a player or two that will show star tendencies.  UND is building depth along the defensive line and certainly isn’t where they need to be but it’s starting to look better.  Coach Jordan Gigli has done a superb job with them since his arrival in Grand Forks and we see that continuing this fall.
  • Sophomore Brandon Dranka is the war daddy of the group.  He has best been described as having the “horsepower” under the hood that is needed to make big, explosive plays from the defensive end position in UND’s 3-4 scheme.  As a true freshman last season, Dranka played extremely well, logging 10.5 TFL’s and 3.5 sacks while playing consistent reps.  Not bad for a 6’2″-230 pounder right out of high school.
  • His classmate Drew Greely also showed nice promise in 2014 as a true freshman.  Greely is similar in size to Dranka and notched 3 sacks himself to go along with 3.5 TFL’s.  At times last season, Greely showed some stiffness that we hope was remedied with off-season training, which could improve his play at the position dramatically.
  • Senior Kyle Woodsmall is coming off an injury and will be counted on for depth.  We are assuming he will be ready to go come fall camp.  Junior Alec Carrothers will also be counted on for depth at the defensive end position.
  • Two redshirt freshman that will be need to come up big for UND this fall are Tank Harris and Austin Cieslak.  Harris will be a nose guard in UND’s 3-4 scheme and consistent, strong play from that position is vital to UND’s success.  He has the size (6’3″-300) but will need a lot of reps and understanding of the system to become a force at this position.  Cieslak is a big, physical type of defensive end that will need to grow up in a hurry to spell the starters as games wear on.
  • UND did pick up a transfer in DE Noah Johnson from City College of San Francisco.  Johnson, 6’2″-275, will be another depth guy at defensive end and will need to produce when give the chance.  We could also see him as a candidate to move down inside to give more depth at nose.
  • We just learned this week that Jordan Hinojosa decided to move back home for family reasons.  This hurts UND’s depth at nose guard but is not insurmountable.  Hinojosa’s motor and intensity on the line will be misssed, no doubt.
  • There is a chance that true freshman Steve Greer plays this fall for UND.  He has the physical size at (6’1-285) and aggressiveness to play the nose guard position if the need arises.  With Hinojosa gone, the likelihood that Greer plays just became greater.
  • We know UND is currently looking for defensive line help through the FBS transfer world and it could go on even after camp starts.
  • This group has the ability to own the line and shut down an opponent’s run game.  But, it will depend on the development of some of the younger players along with them staying healthy for it to happen.  They know what they got with Dranka, Greely, Woodsmall and Carrothers.  After that it’s a guessing game and we won’t know much until 3-4 games into the season.

Deepest/Most Reliable Group:  Linebacker

  • UND is nowhere near what they want to be as far as a roster of players go but this years linebackers are certainly beginning to look the part of a solid FCS unit.  There is depth and talent to go along with size and speed.
  • There is no doubt in anyone’s mind who leads this group: senior ILB Will Ratelle.  The St. Thomas Academy product led UND in tackles last year with 106 to go along with 5.5 TFL’s and 2 sacks.  Ratelle is a workhorse in the weight room and is the prototypical leader by example.  I am obviously expecting another big year out of Will.
  • The second leading tackler on the 2014 team was Ratelle’s battery mate at ILB, Taj Rich.  The 6’1″-230 junior notched 86 tackles and an impressive 11 TFL’s.  He had a breakout year in 2014 but definitely has a lot of room for improvement.  We did love to see how well he developed his “trigger” to see a play develop and react immeditely.
  • A guy who will be pushing Rich hard for the starting spot is freshman transfer DaQuan Baker (New Mexico).  Baker, 6’0″-240, shows good speed on tape for his size and obviously has the size to hold up on the inside.  I am excited to see what he can do come fall camp.
  • Junior Dylan Bakker is the wildcard at ILB.  He redshirted last fall after transferring in from West Hills CC.  The Amsterdam native spent the fall getting stronger while also learning the UND defense.  Much like Charles Flowers who did the same thing, this move could pay off big for Bakker in 2015.  He is a rangy type of linebacker that can make plays on the perimeter.

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  • OLB is also a position of solid depth and play-making ability.  UND returns it’s top 3 OLB’s from 2014 in senior Dayo Idowu, junior Brian Labat, and sophomore Jake Disterhaupt.
  • Idowu is the incumbent starter at the weakside OLB position in UND’s 3-4 scheme.  He had a solid 2014 in which he made a number of big plays on his way to 9 TFL’s and 3.5 sacks, while also adding an interception.
  • Even though Idowu was the starter for most of 2014, he is certainly going to be pushed hard by Disterhaupt.  Disterhaupt is a funny story.  The kid came to UND as the typical tweener, kind of a safety, kind of a linebacker but not sure he could be great at either.  Well, he found a home at OLB.  In limited playing time, Disterhaupt notched 7 TFL’s and 2 sacks last season and was very noticeable as the season went on.  He will be one to watch in a few weeks.
  • Labat could be the starter at the strongside OLB position, as he was in 2014.  At 6’3″-230, Labat has the size to be a force on the end but needs to get much more consistent with his play.  By all accounts he is a very smart player, much like Idowu, but needs to step it up this year and become a leader on the defense.
  • Redshirt freshman Dylan Harmston is the wildcard at OLB.  He has the size, 6’2″-210, and speed to make big plays off the edge for UND.  He has never played before so it will take time but he could be a playmaker type, like Disterhaupt became last season.

Group With Most To Prove:  Wide Receiver

  • The WR group added the likes of Arizona transfer Clive Georges and Iowa Western transfer Alex Reed to a group of unproven, young talent.  Georges will be a home-run hitter type, while Reed will be the typical smaller slot guy.  Both were brought in to make plays and log reps.  Bottom line is both need to produce for the UND offense in 2015 if they have any hopes of improving from their pedestrian 2014 numbers.
  • Bismarck product and former walk-on Josh Seibel came out of nowhere last year to become UND’s best WR at the end of the year.  He ended the season with 25 catches for 215 yards and 1 TD.  I see Seibel as the “Mr. Reliable” of the UND offense.  If you need a first down, find Seibel.  He had a knack for getting open in those situations last season, including the game vs. Portland State where he converted four first downs himself on intermediate catches.
  • I need to see more out of sophomore Brandon Walker, who played as a true freshman last fall.  He had 7 catches for 105 yards in 2014 but played sparingly at the end of the season.
  • There are two wildcards in the group that could change things for the better with breakout seasons.  Senior Miguel Cerriteno now has a year under his belt after transferring in from Feather River College last fall.  He struggled mightily with drops in 2014 but really seemed to settle in this past spring.  At 6’2″-200, Cerriteno provides a nice sized possession type of receiver for the UND offense.
  • The second wildcard of the group is freshman Luke Stanley.  At 6’4″-215, Stanley gives UND the size they need to create mismatches and allow for quick audibles at the line if 1-on-1 is there.  Stanley had a great spring session as well and should be in the mix for consistent reps this fall.

Group With Most To Prove II:  Offensive Line

  • The UND offensive line is the most important group on the entire team.  The staff has said since day one that they are going to run the ball as much as they possibly can and get back to a physical style of football.  I believe they are on the right track with offensive line coach Luke Knauf.  He has been consistently instilling a tough-minded mentality that he brought with him from his playing days in Wisconsin.
  • For a good part of the year last season, the UND offensive line was not able to get done what needed to be done.  In fact, there was a five game stretch from Missouri State to Portland State (games 3-7) where they failed to gain 100 yards rushing in any of the games.  Then, as the offense started to gel things got better.  The culmination was a 297 yard steamrolling of Northern Arizona at the Alerus Center that showed what UND ultimately wants to do on offense.
  • The leader of the offensive line is senior Brandon Anderson (6’6″-310).  He has been the rock at left guard in his 3 years at UND, starting an impressive 30+ games.  Anderson will be relied upon heavily this fall the lead the run game and also mentor the numerous young offensive lineman that are the future of the program.  Anderson has a chance for post-season honors.
  • Senior Sean Meehan has made a smooth transition to right tackle and I am expecting a big year out of him.  We preferred to see Meehan down at guard, but last spring he looked good out on the edge.  He has shown the footwork and form to be able to pick up edge rushers and is known as a very intelligent football player.
  • After Anderson and Meehan things start to look a bit murkier.  I assume that senior Colton Boas is going to start at center.  Boas struggled at times in 2014 with everything from protection to errant shotgun snaps.  He is a bit undersized at 6’1″, which led to issues vs. bigger, physical nose guards.  Boas is a guy to watch in the fall to see how he is progressing.
  • Look for sophomore Mat Cox to battle it out at center with Boas.  Cox goes 6’5″-285 and would bring a completely different dimension to the center position (ability to reach the nose guard).  Cox also plays left tackle and could be moved to right tackle based on need.  His movement will be something to track.
  • Right guard is a position that is 100% up for grabs.  Sophomore Brandon Miller is going to be the starter, at least initially.  Miller had a nice spring but has very little experience (even though he did spell an injured  Brandon Anderson quite well vs. Montana).  He will be in a battle with freshman Demon Taylor, who also progressed last spring but has a ways to go.  Taylor has all the tools to be a good one but needs time and reps to become a collegiate offensive lineman.   That battle could go all the way up to game week.
  • Sophomore Dan Bell is also in their at the left guard position.  He, like Miller, showed flashes in the spring but needs reps and maturity.  Bell will more than likely back up Anderson.  Junior transfer Kevin Camy could be moving down to guard after starting at tackle last spring.  Guard may be a better fit at having some struggles out on the edge.
  • UND needs sophomore left tackle AJ Stockwell to stay healthy and own that position.  Stockwell has been hurt off and on during his two years on campus and hopefully can get the injury bug behind him.  He has shown flashes of ability and has the size/athletic ability that every OL coach wants in a LT (6′-6″-295).  Time for it to show.
  • The wildcard of the group is true freshman Elijah Grady of New Town, ND.  By all accounts, Grady is a very intelligent football player and picks up on things quickly.  He obviously has the size (6’5″-295) and very good footwork to be a good offensive lineman for UND.  Now, taking a step back, things change in a hurry once the ball is snapped and 19-22 year old college kids are coming at you instead of 16-18 year old high schooler’s.  Look for Grady to have a chance to play at guard but possibly play some tackle as well once camp wears on.

 

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Quite The Recruiting Weekend

The UND coaching staff had an unprecedented weekend when they pulled in 8 commitments in a 3 day span.  The commitments all revolved around their final Elite Camp of the summer.  They had 10-12 kids on campus the day before for “unofficial visits” and six of them committed.  This is definitely a positive start to the recruiting season and something that can help with other recruits that are currently weighing their options.  The list of commits is below:

RB Isaiah Secrest, 5’10” – 185, Rice Lake, Wisconsin (Rice Lake High School)

Secrest shows good speed on film.  He is able to break tackles in the box, which is a must for any high-end running back.  Secrest has good vision and cutting ability after the handoff.
Highlights

OLB Jake Geier, 6’2” – 200, Andover, Minnesota (Andover High School)

Geier has a lot of highlights playing WR, which shows his athletic ability, but we see him as an weakside OLB in UND’s 3-4 scheme.  He could easily play WR for UND as he reminds us of current UND WR Josh Seibel.
Highlights

OT Noah Mortel, 6’6” – 240, Luck, Wisconsin (Luck High School)

Mortel fits the mold of the lineman UND has been recruiting lately:  tall with big frame but undersized weight wise.  Mortel played tight end in high school but we see him sliding over a spot and playing offensive tackle at UND once he fills out that 6’6″ frame.
Highlights

TE Hunter Pinke, 6’6” – 215, Wishek, North Dakota (South Border High School)

Pinke is a UND legacy as his mother, Katie Pinke (Lukens) was a thrower for the UND track team and his grandfather was Fred Lukens, who played basketball for UND.  Pinke is also a very good basketball player and it seems to translate to the football field.  He shows a real fluid running stride and agility from the tight end position.
Highlights

CB Evan Holm, 6’0″ – 175, Edina, MN (Edina High School)

Holm plays a physical, instinctive cornerback.  He shows excellent speed on film and his breaks on the ball are above-average.  Holm is also a standout Rugby player for the Hornets, which is interesting to say the least.  Cornerback is definitely a position of need again this year.
Highlights

ILB Cameron Hunt, 6’1” – 210, Carmel, IN (Carmel High School)

Hunt shows good instincts from his inside linebacker position.   He has a frame that can easily get to 225 and play the weakside ILB position for UND.  Hunt is the type of LB that UND needs more of on the inside – playing sideline to sideline.  Hunt plays for Indiana powerhouse Carmel High School.
Highlights

S Tim Ryan, 5’11” – 170, Huntley, IL (Huntley High School)

Ryan is a bit undersized at 5’11” but makes up for it with outstanding instincts from the safety position and an aggressive playing style.  He reminds us a bit of former UND safety from Illinois Cam Kuksa.  Not quite the hitter that Kuksa was but every bit the playmaker.  We see Ryan starting out at free safety but he could also potentially play cornerback upon need.
Highlights

S Jordan Canady, 6’2″ – 175, New Berlin, WI (Eisenhower High School)

Canady has a big frame and will be a physical type of safety for UND, most likely a strong safety.  He is not a burner on film but has decent speed and excellent athleticism with good cutting ability at the point of impact from the RB position.  Canady will be a good player to roll down into the box when you need an extra hat in there.
Highlights

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