Because of injuries and non-spring participants, the Offensive side of the ball is a bit more challenged with less depth and numbers than their defensive counterparts at almost all positions. Coach Rudolph and the offense will no doubt have to practice and preach “smart practice tempo” to try and keep everyone healthy so that they can complete spring ball in one piece.
- Left Tackle: One of the two offensive line position with the most uncertainty needs to find itself and have an idea of where they will be at by the fall. Leading candidate AJ Stockwell is out rehabbing an injury after showing a lot of promise late last season. Kevin Camy is a big-bodied JUCO transfer that will need to assert himself immediately and also needs to get better in the weight room. We’ve heard good things about Mat Cox’s development both on the field and in the weight room, but he is still a work in progress and still needs to put on more weight. This is one of the top two most intriguing position battles this spring on the O-line.
– Left Guard: The most certain starter on the O-line, 3-year starter Brandon Anderson is the experienced anchor up front. Sophomore Dan Bell will be counted on for depth and will hopefully be able to be a quality depth guy in case of injury.
– Center: Colton Boas is the returning starter here and with redshirt freshman Jacob Francis also out with an injury, Boas seems to be the guy at the outset. However, the darkhorse is redshirt freshman Grant Aplin, who has gotten rave reviews in the weight room and is known as a grinder in the trenches despite his lack of height. Having a certain level of ‘nasty’ can make up for a lot of things in the trenches.
– Right Guard: The other O-line spot with the most uncertainty entering spring practices. We think the experienced Sean Meehan being at this spot gives the offensive line their best starting lineup, but because of the uncertainty at both tackle spots right now and lack of depth for spring ball, Meehan will remain at right tackle for now. Enter sophomore Brandon Miller and redshirt freshman Demon Taylor to battle for this spot during spring. Both have the size you like to have at your guard spots and we feel Taylor could challenge for the starting job.
– Right Tackle: The aforementioned Meehan started here last year and is more than likely slated at this spot again. Redshirt freshman Adam Stiner will be the number 2 guy for now but we wouldn’t be surprised to see some shuffling at this spot, dependent upon the progression of Camy and Cox on the other tackle side. Either guy could be a potential swing candidate if they develop enough this spring, which would allow Meehan to move down inside to guard, especially given the hopeful return of a healthy Stockwell in the fall.
The no-brainer returning starter here is senior Zach Adler, who will be the guy in ’21’ and ’11’ and sets. Junior Luke Mathewson more than likely enters as the #2 man on the depth chart, followed by promising redshirt freshman Luke Fiedler. We are interested to see how Fiedler develops this spring because of his size (6’5″-235) and huge frame and we expect to see him in the slot to try create mismatches on linebackers and safeties up the seam. When sophomore Kyle Ruhe returns from injury next fall, this position should have some of the best pass receiving threats they have had in quite some time.
- X: The wide receiver position in general is the biggest crap shoot on the team. Some shuffling around is almost imminent. We really have no idea how these positions could shake out because of the lack of experience. Senior Miguel Cerriteno probably starts off as the #1 ‘X’-receiver with 6-4 redshirt freshman Luke Stanley being the #2. Stanley has tons of potential because of his size and ability to go up and get it so he could challenge Cerriteno as early as this spring.
– Z: Sophomore Josh Seibel surprised last season after the receiving unit was decimated by injuries. We feel his progression continues at the flanker spot as the #1 guy on the depth chart entering spring, which he earned. Arizona transfer Clive Georges will no doubt be pushing him but will need to get comfortable with the offense and prove he can be a playmaker and apply his physical ability that he possesses. Maverick Edmunds moved over from cornerback and will be counted on to be a quality depth guy and is one of the faster guys on the team, but will need to use the spring to mold his craft as a WR.
– J: Sophomore Brandon Walker and JUCO transfer Alex Reed are both candidates to be swing guys for all 3 spots, but we believe Walker starts as the top guy in 3 WR sets at ‘J’ because of his experience in the offense. We’ve heard great things about Reed and believe he will have a say in things before spring practices are concluded. It’s anyone’s guess and is up for grabs as to who will be the 4th man in 4-WR sets at this time. By all accounts Reed brings great intangibles to the team, which is crucial as Coach Schweigert is still trying to create the right culture in his UND football program.
UND returns just two fullbacks in their pro-style offense, meaning both should be getting plenty of reps this spring. Returning starter and North Dakota native Dustin Iverson (6’3″-250) is coming off a nice sophomore campaign where he caught 12 balls and more importantly evolved as a lead blocker. Freshman Tyler Coyne is a walk-on but will be counted on to challenge Iverson and provide quality depth at an important position in UND’s pro-style offense.
This is a position on the offense that is completely up for grabs when spring ball begins today. We do not think that the position is set in stone as far as the depth chart goes, however, based on the fact UND is still looking for possible transfers to make an immediate impact. We see senior transfer Ja’Won Arrington breaking through and winning this job based on his experience, combined with his size and speed. He will not be an ‘everydown’ RB, as few are these days, but should log the lion’s share of the reps. Sophomore Kyle Norberg returns as the bruising, between the tackles RB on the UND roster. He made in immediate impact last fall after switching from ILB early last season. Norberg finished the 2014 season with 225 rushing yards.
What UND does need to find is a “speed” back, a guy that can break a long run with one move and provide a change of pace for the bigger RB’s in Arrington and Norberg.
With Joe Mollberg rehabbing his achilles injury and Jake Hanson making the move to defense, there should be plenty of reps to go around between Ryan Bartels and Keaton Studsrud. In this sense, the spring should be invaluable for both guys in terms of getting quality reps with the first and second string offense, which will aid both in gaining confidence and building a rapport with their young and inexperienced receiving corps. We hope both guys push each other all spring. Bartels brings the experience to the table while Studsrud brings the physical athletic attributes that bode well for Paul Rudolph’s offense. Studsrud needs to take steps mentally to show he can be the guy long term and we feel if he shows that, he will be the #1 guy on the depth chart heading into fall camp where a 3-man, free-for-all will ensue at the QB spot. The quality of depth here should be the best it’s been in a long time come August.