If you want to do some reading about the UND Football team, have we got a treat for you. Buckle up:
Offensively – QB spot is still very unsettled. Joe Mollberg continues to struggle with his accuracy at times. He threw a pick 6 on a flat route where the corner was sitting in the flat in a hard cover 2 look. The WR went up the field on what looked to be a conversion route and Mollberg threw it right to the corner for a TD. That absolutely cannot happen this year. On another instance, Mollberg tried hitting freshman TE Zach Fiedler on a quick seam route. Fiedler had position on the safety but the ball was thrown to the backside shoulder instead of leading him to his upfield shoulder. It was the difference between the ball being knocked down incomplete and being a big gainer. On the plus side, Mollberg hit a couple intermediate routes over the middle in the scrimmage when he stepped up in the pocket and stuck the ball where it needed to be. It’s time for Joe Mollberg to step up and be consistent with his throwing and decision making – now.
-Ryan Bartels also continues to struggle and made some bad decisions and reads by throwing the ball to covered WR, with others open. His first couple passes were dropped by the defender and could have easily been picked off. Bartels is not too far behind Mollberg but in our opinion he is definitely #2 right now.
– Freshman Keaton Studsrud does not look like a freshman and is probably way further ahead that Kurt Palandech was at his age. Studsrud showed nice poise in the pocket when he waited for his #3 WR (Walker) to clear on a corner route to the field side, and put the ball right on the WR for a big gainer. Studsrud just appears to have the intangibles and “it” factor so far as a young pup. He still will almost definitely redshirt, barring injuries. Jake Hanson had a tough day and still has a long ways to go.
– At RB, injuries have kept anyone from claiming stake to anything. Once again, you can’t play if you aren’t on the field. Nicks and bruises are part of the deal and everyone has them in fall camp. The difference is who is tough enough to deal with them mentally while still practicing smart. So far, nobody has showed this, in our opinion. Jer Garman has been out recently along with Cedric Simmons missing a couple days. We like Patrick Sharp a lot still and think he can be a difference maker eventually, but he still needs to prove he can do it mentally and hold up in pass protection before he can be counted on for 3rd down.
– Adam Shaugabay is probably your #1 guy at this point. He had a long TD run in the scrimmage and has the most experience in the backfield. After that, you probably could “slash” Simmons/Garman/Sharp at the #2 spot. All four backs are in line to get playing time this fall. It’s just a matter of someone taking the bull by the horns and stepping up to stake their claim. We will be waiting for that to happen.
– The fullback position is led by Dwayne Pecosky and Dustin Iverson. Pecosky has been a big surprise since moving to FB last season and will definitely be in the mix with Iverson as a 2-headed option blocking for the RB’s. Tanner Vesledahl will provide depth and freshman Tyler Coyne has shown that his future could be bright as the big, string, physical fullback made some good blocks this spring in his limited reps.
– The WR position has similar issues with staying healthy. Nagging injuries have made Miguel Cerriteno, Aeron Carr and Pat Brown all miss extensive time thus far. Freshman Dev Ferguson had missed a day or two as well but is back on the field now while the others remain out. Carr specifically is becoming a concern as he has spent a large amount of time sitting out practice last spring and this fall. Hopefully, he can keep progressing towards a football players mentality and stay on the field. Freshman Brandon Walker continues to impress and work his way up the depth chart as well, if nothing else because of injuries. RJ McGill will be the leader of this group and has shown that he is back from the knee injury sustained last year. He is by far the most polished of the group. Wide receiver is a position group that needs to show they can make plays in this year’s new offense.
– By far the biggest surprise of the offense to date is the advancement of the TE position. Kyle Ruhe has shown that he can be a factor in the passing game with his size and pass catching ability. He threw a very nice peelback block on a cornerback that led to a long TD in the scrimmage. Zach Adler looks ready to be the guy in regular 21 personnel sets as the every down TE and has been impressive. Luke Mathewson and Tucker Nordby took a ton of reps in the scrimmage and need to be counted on for depth during the season. As we mentioned in an earlier post, true freshman Luke Fiedler has a chance to be a special player in the coming years but is not ready yet. Look for Ruhe to be the pass-catcher of the group with the others being the blockers.
– The left side of the offensive line is set with Devin Barton at LT and Brandon Anderson at LG. Both of those guys are rock solid and should be counted on heavily by offensive coordinator Paul Rudolph.
– The right guard and right tackle spots need to be shored up in our opinion. Ben Henson, while being in a new spot, has done admirably so far but needs to be more consistent and eliminate the mental mistakes. Sean Meehan remains the #1 RT but we would like to see him become more dependable than he has so far. Again, both guys are playing new spots, so growing pains are expected there to a degree.
– At center, the battle is on between JUCO transfer Colton Boas and true freshman Jacob Francis. Boas is a bulldog with a good motor. Once he’s engaged, more often than not you see him driving back the interior defensive lineman. Francis is more technically sound and has the better feet for a big guy. Probably a dead heat at this point between those two. With Jace Hellman being moved to right guard, it appears that it’s almost a certainty that Francis will not redshirt.
– AJ Stockwell is gigantic at the backup LT spot and is learning his way through a new position. His technique is still flawed right now but he definitely has the tools the be a starter next year. He just needs more time to develop.
– True freshman Demon Taylor has the potential to be a special player. On a screen play out on the perimeter, Taylor released from his left guard spot and showed good feet before throwing his body and a huge block on the edge that laid out the linebacker.
– Mat Cox has been a pleasant surprise after being moved to RT and should be a nice addition to the depth this fall.
Defensively – Cole Reyes needs to be starting now. He is the difference maker on the 2014 UND defense and needs to be on the field for every down, even as a freshman. He goes 6’2″-215 and looks like a linebacker but runs like a safety. His breaks are smooth and he can matchup with bigger TE’s across the middle. When he triggers on a play it is quick and immediate.
– Transfer Jordan Hinojosa will not be a superstar for UND. What he will be, however, is a lunchpail lineman who absolutely works his ass off every play. He has an intensity that almost makes you laugh, one of those guys that gets worked up during a walk-through drill. We love it. This team needs more of that and we think Hinojosa will be a nice addition to the team. He has the athletic ability to make plays on his own in UND’s 3-4 scheme but won’t dominate a game. He will bring is 100% effort every down, though.
We are waiting for the other defensive lineman to step up and take over the defensive end starting roles. Sophomore Alec Carrothers has looked decent in fall camp thus far and will most certainly be a starter at left end. Senior Spencer Cummings has been steady and should start opposite Carrothers. UND is lacking horsepower on the defensive line right now. They need some players to show they can make plays and not just take up a blocker.
Sophomore Marcus Cheatom is an intriguing player in that he shows flashes where he can dominate but then gets handled on the next play. Cheatom has quick feet and hands and can be explosive off the ball. Consistency is his biggest issue. He can be a disruptive force from the NG spot but it is not there on an every down basis right now.
Ben Peters made a couple really nice open field tackles for no gain/loss in the scrimmage, sniffing out a RB screen to make the play and also bring down a RB in the flat one-on-one. While Peters will now be battling Marcus Jenkins-Moore (Kansas) for playing time, beside Dylan Bakker and Kyle Norberg.
Bakker had a nice scrimmage also. He is a fast linebacker who relies on quick reads and triggering on the ball to make his plays, which he did a few times in the scrimmage. Bakker is a prototypical weakside ILB in that he can run sideline to sideline to make plays.
Dayo Idowu and Brian Labat have a stranglehold on the OLB starting spots. Both are just better than their backup and show it with size and athleticism. Labat is a guy who has also been playing the strongside and weakside ILB spots, making him all the more valuable. The coaches appear to want to have him ready to go at more than one spots incase another player jumps up and is ready to contribute.
Even though true freshman Chris Carter dropped a wide open INT during the scrimmage, we feel he may be starting on August 28th. He will need to shore up his understanding of the defenses as there were times in Cover 2 where he let the receiver run by him but was not threatened by any other receivers in the flat. That cannot happen. UND’s safeties are not to the point where they can cover a seam receiver and still get to the sideline receiver while the ball is in the air. Having said that, Carter has only practiced for a couple weeks and he will learn alot in the next two weeks with repetition.
Alex Tillman is solid all-around, as one would expect from the transfer senior. He should be starting at one corner spot, IMO. Charles Flowers hasn’t shown the pop in his breaks that we saw on tape from last season at Citrus College. There is still time to contribute but he will need to adjust as camp progresses.