Q & A: Trial Version 1.0

As we have discussed on here before, we have been kicking around the idea of  some new formats for posts and info on our blog.  One idea we had was a ‘Question & Answer’ format where our readers ask any questions about UND Football in the comments section and we answer them all day as we can handle them the best we can.  This litmus test will determine if we use this format again and how frequently based on interest and participation from our readership.  And yes, we will moderate as necessary.  All comments will be ‘approved’ before posting.  Don’t waste your time, trolls.

So without further delay, we give you the beta version of “SFI Q & A”.

Fire away with your questions related to UND Football in the comments section!  We’re waiting…

93 Responses

  1. Johnny

    What do you think about next year’s defense? Who might get their redshirt pulled and which redshirt freshman can make an impact?

    1. I am interested to see what changes, if anything, with the Kotelnicki-led defense in terms of philosophy or playcalling. I’m not sure it will be all that much different given the fact that both guys worked together on the same defensive staff, but there could be subtle changes in terms or down and distance and adjustements etc.

      The defense will be better from a statistical standpoint, regardless of who the D-coordinator is next year. It has to. The most important thing for them is to tighten up in the red-zone like UND Defenses of the past have done. You are going to give up yardage and big plays in the Big Sky. You just have to make them snap the ball again and see if you can hold them to Field Goal attempts where we always have a good chance to block a kick.

      They also have to tackle better. A lot of that is on the players themselves.

      As far as redshirts getting pulled on defense, we have said we think Cole Reyes is a candidate at safety. Marcus Cheatom at NG, Garett Cary at DE and Kyle Norberg at LB all are players to consider. But you just never know until you get those guys on campus and see what they can do physically, and maybe even more importantly, what they can handle mentally.

    2. One specific position that we feel could be addressed is the strongside linebacker spot. They need to become better vs the run and “bulking up” that spot with a bigger player could be an option. A defensive lineman that is athletic, like a Alec Carrothers maybe. They really don’t drop into coverage that much anyway.

    3. Labat at LB should be on the field a lot with Carrothers at DE for redshirt freshman. I think Mike Edwards will be a difference maker week 1.

      I want to see Konowalski on the field at corner too, but only he will be able to determine that.

      Kodee Varner has a shot.

  2. abc

    Is JJ Robertson human? Reportedly one of (if not the fastest guy) on the team and has already shattered the WR lifting record by benching 370 lbs as the equivalent of a red-shirt?

    1. Yeah, he is pretty freaky given the fact that he was basically on his own at community college last year. He has the chance to be a big difference maker. A 370 pound bench press for a guy that size? Wow.

      UND does have the option to redshirt him, if they wanted. I can’t see that happening though if all his talent translates to the football field like we think it will. It would be nice to play him this year and have that redshirt in the back pocket in case of an injury.

      1. Hambone

        I was under the impression that his eligibility clock had started already, so he wouldn’t have a reshirt year available?

    2. 370 lb bench press max. for a WR – unreal. He has been drawing rave reviews and now we know why he was recruited by Illinois out of high school. He never signed due to grades (which as we found out were not that bad, 2.4 GPA I believe). Their loss, UND’s gain.

      The OL is going to have to improve to get these receivers the ball. Need that area to improve considerably.

      1. Hambone

        Along the lines of the OL – who do you see as the starters for this year, and who are the key youngsters that should be able to contribute when called upon if not starting?

        1. The only guys I can write in with a permanent marker are Kleason, who they very much missed in 2012, Deneui at LT, and B. Anderson at one of the guard spots. Would assume Shea Walker will take over at center. After that Dustin Adams will be fighting for another spot but don’t know if he can play tackle. They really need another tackle to emerge.

        2. My guess is Kleason, Anderson, Denuei, Walker and ????….

          Battle for the other guard spot might come down to 2 freshman – Adams and Meehan maybe?

          This is a complete guess as there is so much football to be played before that decision is made. 45 practices worth between spring and fall.

          One thing is for certain – overall quality depth on the OL is at an all-time high in my eyes.

        3. CR1984

          Seems like the left side is set.
          LT- Darren Denai SR.
          LG- Brandon Anderson SO
          C- Shea Walker JR.
          RG- Adams? Meehan? Kleason?
          RT- Joe Kleason SR.

          Spring will be a fight for all. Good competition breeds success. I hear the weight room and conditioning has gone well, they have to get stronger– evident from Big Sky play last year.

          Jameer Jackson and Blair Townsend are both big bodies taht have to be used more as TE. Will help open up that run game.

  3. LetsGoSioux!

    So the offense has a chance to be very special again, obviously. Give us some hope that the D can hold teams under 30….please.

    1. Like I stated above. I think the defense takes a step forward this year. If nothing else, because there is no way to go but up.

      This is our challenge to the players: live and play up to your potential and uphold the UND defensive tradition and legacy that has been laid down before you. Play with pride.

  4. LetsGoSioux!

    What kind of numbers do you expect from our starting QB this year? Ballpark estimates if possible.

    1. Asking us to predict the future huh? Ok, I’ll give it a shot…

      Last year, Braden Hanson and Marcus Hendrickson accounted for 3,268 yds, 30 TDs and 10 Ints.

      If the UND QB’s can go for 2,500 yds, 20 TDs and 10 Ints with better defense and better running game, I would say that would something to shoot for. Regardless of who the QB is. Although I tend to think Mollberg comes away with the job after fall camp and a good competition with Bartels.

    2. Last year Hendrickson and Hanson combined for 3200+ yds and 30 TD’s. They were both Seniors. The team only ran the ball for 1400+ yds, however. That cannot happen again.

      My early prediction is Joe Mollberg wins the starting QB spot. The team puts an added emphasis on running the ball and that includes Mollberg. In 2013, he throws for 2,400 yds and 22 TD’s but runs the ball for another 500 yds.

  5. Dakota_Fan

    Obviously, the WR Core is deep…. The QB battle should be interesting. How about the run game? Arguably, there is talent in the back field as well. At this point, it appears that there is at least 1 position to fill on the OL. What are your thoughts on the offense?

    1. Because of the explosiveness at WR and the experience returning on the OL, we feel the offense can be very explosive again this year if the freshman QB gets the time to operate. UND can simply not ask the freshman QBs to shoulder the load like the seniors last year did.

      I am interested to see how the offensive staff handles the playcalling for the young bucks at QB. Do they go more conservative? A myriad of variables enter that equation with spring ball and fall camp practices being determination #1. It will be a feeling out process as the kids gain confidence.

  6. SiouxFan

    Might be a bit early but…

    1.) Any top local recruiting Targets for 2014?

    2.)Biggest position of need in 2014?

    1. 1) As far as “local” is concerned, the Cieslak kid from Hazen, ND already holds an offer from UND. There’s a kid from Lakota, ND that could be a potential recruit too, but we know nothing about either kid. Other than that, I don’t think I can think of anyone else yet. It is still so early. A handful of 2014 local kids will get noticed in camps and on film and then there will be more potential offers.

      2) Corner, Corner, Corner, DL, LB, OL, and……corner

    2. They do need a kicker next year. Zeb Miller is a Sr. this year. The one kicker they went hard after ended up at Memphis so I would assume they are looking hard at kickers for 2014.

  7. Hambone

    Where will Tyhre Ivery play – CB or S? And do you feel he will have the skills to make an impact there? Are there any other WRs (Bridges, Young, Fletcher) that could make the switch to the defensive backfield? And lastly – do I have to put up with another year of watching Mackey get demolished, or will someone finally step up and move him down the depth chart?

    1. Ivery should be a safety, based on need but he could play corner in a pinch. He was originally slotted to be a DB upon arrival but was moved to WR due to need. That is no longer the case. He will add much needed athleticism to the position.

      Rumors are that Mackey could be moving to safety, depending how spring ball goes. So that could be your saving grace!

    2. I think he’s a natural safety. But he has the ability to do both and is a great asset because of that flexibility. Just depends on need I guess and alot of that won’t play out until after spring and fall. With the freshman coming in at safety, I’m gonna say the need is bigger to have Ivery at corner next fall. Just a guess.

  8. abc

    Who steps up between Shaugabay and Sparks? Both seem to have the build for some up the middle yardarge along with some speed as well.

    1. Two different backs. Sparks has some rugged style to him but appears to be a “slicker” type of back than Schaugabay, who is a bigger short yardage type of RB only.

    2. I think Sparks should have the edge because of his scatty, yet strong running-style and balance in between the tackles. He’s pretty well built and showed some promise last year, albeit against vastly inferior competition.

      However, Shaugabay turned my head with his top-5 forty time this week. A handfull of speedsters didn’t run, but still impressive.

      You put a gun to my head and I will say Sparks, but it could be a battle up to Valparaiso prep week.

  9. UND Fan

    Thanks for setting up this Q&A option – it is great!

    Please explain putting a bunch of $ into the FB locker room in Memorial Stadium (I know improvements were definitely needed) when we may have a new IPF quite soon. I suppose the lockers and some of the other stuff can be moved but…..

    1. Exactly right. We assume they are going to move the lockers over to the IPF. Other than that they only re-carpeted and painted it. Nothing real major.

      It was badly needed for recruiting and morale purposes.

    2. The lockers will be removable and re-locatable.

      It was something that simply couldn’t wait for the IPF quite frankly. It will do wonders for the locker room and Memorial Stadium for the players and potential recruits who visit campus.

  10. abc

    Thoughts on UND putting out so many offers this early? Even though a lot of these kids are going to end up at schools are a level above, does this have the potential to rub kids that get included in the “second round” of offers the wrong way?

    1. They need to show they are serious with kids and “offering” is the way to do it. There is a misunderstanding about these early spring offers during their junior year. We have heard that no actual dollar figure is thrown out but it is more of a verbal offer that will be confirmed later during their senior year. Some kids actually get the offer while other do not.

      We know for a fact that they do NOT actually offer 30-40 kids an actual scholarship with dollar amount. Far from it.

      1. abc

        Thanks for clearing that up. I know the coaches can’t really speak about it, but one had to assume there was a lot more to it then it appears on the surface.

    2. It’s the nature of today’s beast. You can look at anything in a negative light if you really want to. Don’t see how it would be a bad thing whatsoever.

      Maybe other staffs don’t like it because it makes them look bad when they are behind in the game?

  11. Hambone

    Who is going to be the main TE threat this year, both catching the ball and blocking? I thought Grant would have been utilized by now, but nothing seems to be going on there yet. Have you heard the thoughts on the RFr after last year?

    Also, I’ve asked this question multiple times so bear with me – did we get any PWO’s in the last recruiting class? I know the prior class was large, but I was expecting to see at least a couple come through. I think we uncovered an OL from Illinois during the recruiting process, but never had anything confirmed.

    Lastly – any more news on the Opara deal?

    1. Honestly, I don’t think there will be a receiving threat at the TE position. It will mainly be a blocking position by the looks of it.

      Have not heard anything about PWO’s, sorry. Will try to keep looking.

      From everything we heard, Opara does not qualify for college. He cannot sign with anybody due to that fact and would probably need to go Juco to get qualified. We do not expect him to come to UND anytime soon.

    2. The TE position is a HUGE unknown for me. I have no idea. It’s so tough because of the perimeter weapons UND has at WR. Only so many balls to go around. Maybe the freshman QBs will look for them more now though on shorter, safer check down routes. Hard to say.

      Opara ain’t comin’…..not this year. He would have to go JUCO first I believe.

  12. UND Fan

    I am still confused how SDSU can announce 10+ preferred walk-ons (for example) while we only have room for one (as far as we know). SDSU is fully funded for FB scholarships, aren’t they?

    1. Funny how that works. They must be planning on cutting kids or having some kids not make it to the fall due to grades, etc. Maybe they graduated a big class but only signed a normal amount.

  13. Bang

    I know it was said there was a few guys held out of the 40 yard dash time. Isn’t it scary to that only one DB came in faster that Finley? Maybe there was a bunch of DB’s that were held out but it kind of worries me. Although maybe it should be encouraging to have that amount of speed at OLB.

    1. Objectively speaking, yes. However, it’s no secret that UND doesn’t have “burners” playing corner right now based on what we have seen over the last couple of years on the field. Daryl Brown probably possesses the best speed, but he didn’t run. Not sure if Konowalski ran and what time he got. I would hope he was in the 4.7 range as well.

      Good technique ALWAYS hides lack of speed – always. If the corners can get better technically, they will look faster.

    2. Without knowing who was actually running, yes it is worth noting. However, Finley can run pretty well. Corner is definitely a position that needs to add continued talent.

  14. Hambone

    Related to the defense, maybe I’m wrong but I seem to remember a little 4-3 being played at certain times (very, very sparingly, which is why I’m not sure if I was seeing it correctly). Do you think they will play a little 4-3 at times this year?

    1. It depends on down and distance. A nickel or dime package does morph into a 4-3 at times. The base package appeared to still be a 3-4 most of the time.

    2. UND has always sprinkled in some 4-3 looks in Nickel and Dime packages, dating back as far as the mid-90’s. They still do some of it when down and distance and opponent scouting and tendencies call for it. I wouldn’t expect to it become more prevalent than that, especially with Kotelnicki running the defense.

  15. SeanS

    Not sure if asked already or not, but which Freshman that redshirted last year will have the biggest impact in 2013 not counting Molberg or Bartels depending on who the starter is?

  16. SeanS

    Also a follow up…. Which Fr & Soph who didn’t play much last year, or played sparingly would you expect to push for a starting spot this year?

    1. FB Zach Adler, FB Kevin Bayer, OL Sean Meehan, RB PJ Sparks, NG Mike Edwards, CB Rumeal Harris, DE Alec Corrothers – just to name a few off the top of my head.

    2. I would say Adler and Ratelle should step it up and get good reps. One of the sophomore OL (Windfeldt or Meehan) is going to need to contribute to add depth along the OL.

  17. By the way, we’d like to up our odds for the IPF to have shovels in the ground by May.

    Yesterday we said 75/25 that it gets done on a blog post.

    I’d like to up that number to 90/10 that shovels are in the ground in May.

  18. UND FAN 1

    I am curious what you guys think of the SDSU game next year in Grand Forks? Assuming we steam roll Valaparaiso it will be setting up a huge early season matchup. How much of an advantage for UND will it be that it will be the Jackrabbits first game? Will they bring any fans? They have not been to Grand Forks since 2001 I believe, they never used to travel that well but their fanbase as grown since then as well. I think this is the biggest game of the year and if we can beat the Jacks it will spring board us to great year! This is by far the game I am most looking forward to, I think they have gotten a little high on there horse for a program that has won one playoff game in it’s history. Thoughts?

    1. I am very excited to get the Jacks up at the Alerus next fall. It is a huge advantage for UND to have Valpo the week before for many reasons. Whoever wins the QB battle will have a game to get the jitters out and get used to running the offense in the Alerus Center. Also, SDSU is notoriously bad early the season. They have had some bad early season losses over the past 10 years.

      They are a run oriented team which in the past I would say would be great for UND. But after last season I am a bit worried because if they drop the plow on UND its going to be trouble for the home team.

    2. Big game with potential playoff implications on the line in a Big Sky vs Missouri Valley Football tilt.

      It will be nice to have an ‘old friend’ back at the Alerus in a game that means something. South Dakota State is a very good football team.

  19. RD17

    Is there any chance that the coaching staff will still try to land an experienced transfer at QB or do they feel so good about Mollberg and Barrels that its not necessary?

    Are there any young players that will develop into that next great ILB?

    What are the odds that UND is still playing in the Alerus Center in 2025?

    1. IMO, they are going to see how spring ball goes before accepting any “feelers” about potential FBS transfers at QB. Obviously, they are a ripe candidate for one based on the age of the current QB’s but Bartels and Mollberg do have talent and were both highly recruited.

      On the roster currently I would only point to Labat maybe but not really anybody we can definitively name. There are some decent ILB’s on the roster now that will turn into nice players, however. If you are looking for the next great UND ILB – look to Cary, IL. Norberg is going to be good.

      Odds are pretty good. Don’t see any Ralph types of gifts coming anytime soon, which is what it would take.

    2. I don’t see any other QBs coming to UND, unless someone completely falls into their lap and wants to be at UND specifically. Even then, it would have to be the right fit in terms of eligibility remaining.

      The next great ILB? I won’t use that phrase until it is earned. There might be a guy in mind that has that potential, but he needs to prove it on the field first. Just my opinion.

      Odds on UND at the Alerus in 2025: I’ll say 40% chance they are still there. 😉

  20. homer

    This isn’t as much of a question as it is a statement- Huge props to Faison and the staff for the schedule they put together for next year. Its been a long time coming, maybe overdue but our home schedule next year is as good as they come. The players have to be excited about that.

    Great job on the blog guys!!

    1. Agreed. Mr. Faison has done a nice job as AD at UND, considering all the crap he has had to deal with (nickname, conference, etc). Other AD’s don’t need to deal with all that.

      7 home games is ridiculous. On top of that 4 of them are vs. perenially Top 25 teams.

  21. abc

    Have you heard if a lot of guys will be sticking around this summer to work out? Not sure what it has been in the past for summer participation, but that year-round dedication seems vital for success.

    1. Every player in that program needs to stay in GF for summer workouts. This needs to become the only way. The commitment level of the players and team is shown by this number.

  22. KG

    6 out of first 7 at home. Does UND need to go at least 5-2 in that stretch for playoffs or 4-3 and win out? Gotta beat Valpo, ISU, & Sac State for sure, then hope for 2-2 vs. SDSU, Mont, Mont. St, and EWU?

    1. If they can go 2-2 vs. SDSU-Montana-Montana State-EWash they should be in business. They proved they can win on the road vs. a middle of the pack team by beating Sac State last year. Idaho State and UC-Davis are must wins. NAU on the road will be tough. Portland State is winnable but probably a 50/50 deal.

      5-2 at home is a must. 2 wins on the road will get them to 7 wins. The problem is that teams can play 12 games this year. The new “7-win plateau” may turn into “8-win plateau” this year.

    2. Presuming they don’t choke away a road game they should win, 2-2 is looking good. 3-1 would be great.

      The optimist in me says that even though UND has a suspect defense and a lot of unproven youth at QB, that type of record could have them looking at the FCS playoffs.

  23. Jon

    You guys ever thought of expanding to und men’s BBall with the blog? You do a good job with football coverage.

    1. I don’t think anybody wants us talking about basketball. We were both really good players at the Y – would that qualify us to breakdown and second guess the decisions of the UND Basketball staff? 🙂

      I will add that we love watching the UND basketball team play. They got a lot of good talent now and just need to stay healthy and could do some damage at the BS Tourney.

    2. Ummm, no.

      We are amateur enough with our football coverage.

      Basketball for us would be awful. We really wish someone who knows it well would take off with it. We love following the basketball programs too.

      1. SeanS

        Maybe the Herald or WDAZ could like how they do for the Bison in Fargo…………doubtful it’s not hockey.

  24. matty

    Has there been any talk about adding a 12th game on the two open dates, or will it just be 11 with time to heal up?

    1. There has not. When looking at the schedule the only opening would be the last week of the season, Nov. 23rd. Kind of an aakward time to find a team. They would need to find another team in their same situation who isn’t a high end program. No way in heck they go on the road and take on a Top team, the last game of the year with the playoffs on the line. Not worth it.

  25. UND Fan

    I hope the activity you’ve seen today shows that this could be a very popular featuee on your site. I think today’s dialogue was a bit heavier than normal as 1) many of us had a few questions “stored” up that you addressed and 2) many were specific questions that will likely not need to be talked about going forward.

    What are you thinking? Being on line on a certain day once every two weeks during the off-season or should we keep asking questions here and you will answer them when you have time to do so.

    Bottom line – thanks for devoting so much of your time to this. It is great!

    1. We will need to look into the Cover It Live feature at some point also for live blogging. Yes this did go well, lots of good questions.

      We appreciate the kind words. UND has a big year coming up – they really need to take that next step!

      1. SeanS

        An idea. Maybe a specific time each week or every two weeks. That or just have a option to submit questions each week, and then post the answers to those every Fri. or every other Fri. Seen that work well before.

  26. Teeder11

    Assuming Opara succeeds in JUCO, are his connections to UND strong enough to lead him here in a year or two? I know there are a lot of variable involved here.

    1. Not sure on that. There are UND connections at his school that wanted him to end up at UND. I’d like to think that if he gets everything in order, we could still have a small chance at getting him. But who knows, he could end up doing too well and get an FBS offer.

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