Spring games in the books
FARGO — Brock Jensen had his number called one last time at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome. He was awarded his FCS national title ring from North Dakota State President Dean Bresciani in a pre-Spring Game ceremony.
No. 16 is moving on to perhaps a shot at making an NFL team. No. 11 is still here.
Junior Carson Wentz has taken over the reins at quarterback and Saturday’s annual Green vs. Gold game was a passing of the baton of sorts from Jensen to Wentz.
The review: a mixed bag, he said.
“It was up and down for sure,” Wentz said. “I missed a couple of throws here and there and I wasn’t on the same page with a couple of my receivers. Those are things we need to iron out in the summer.”
He finished 11 of 20 passing for 165 yards, although he wasn’t allowed to get hit that essentially took away the running portion of his game.
“Had he been live, I think he would have made some plays with his legs,” said head coach Chris Klieman.
Overall, Klieman said Wentz had a productive spring practice and although he hasn’t officially been named the Bison starter, all indications are he will start against Iowa State in the season opener Aug. 30.
At 6-foot-6 and 222 pounds, he has the physical skills to be a factor in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The Bison coaches have long said he has the mental acuity to make it at the FCS level.
After being Jensen’s understudy for the last two years, and having been in the program for three years, he said he’s ready to take the next depth chart leap.
“It was a lot of fun to lead these guys and be with the 1s for the first time in a game-like situation,” Wentz said. “We had a lot of young guys making plays for the first time in front of these fans.”
UND’s Green-White scrimmage sees progress
GRAND FORKS — It didn’t take long for UND junior linebacker Dayo Idowu to notice the new motto at Memorial Stadium.
It’s Day by Day. That’s the message instilled by first-year coach Bubba Schweigert and his new coaching staff.
“Everyone is buying into that little by little,” said Idowu, who made his presence know Saturday at the annual Green-White game at the Alerus Center. “Coaches are emphasizing day by day. And, as the spring went on, players started to believe we can be a really good defense. We got better and better as we scrimmage more.”
No clear-cut winner emerged after the game as the controlled scrimmage wrapped up the UND spring football season.
The defense had its moments. Offensively, there were positive plays as well.
“We wanted to stay healthy and evaluate guys,” said Schweigert. “And we were able to do that.”
But where the program stands heading into fall camp is anyone’s guess.
“It was a learning experience,” said Idowu, who had a sack to open the scrimmage and one to close it. “But what I’ve noticed so, as far as the coaches go, it’s their love for the university and the program. And that translates into the way we play.”
Offensively, UND did move the ball at times — showing signs of a run game that can produce.
Also, UND used four quarterbacks — Ryan Bartels (5-for-8, 50 yards); Joe Mollberg (3-4, 21); Kurt Palandech (4-8, 33) and Jake Hanson (3-4, 29). The scrimmage and spring season ended, however, without any of the four grabbing the No. 1 spot on the depth chart.
Adam Shaugabay, who scored two 1-yard touchdowns during the 55-play scrimmage, said progress on offense has been made.
“It’s a work in progress but (assistant) coach (Paul) Rudolph said before the game that we’ve made strides the past few days. And I think we made a few more strides today.”
Schweigert said there are areas that need improvement.
“We had too many penalties,” he said. “And we have to get the snaps figured out offensively. We can’t have negative plays.
“Defensively, we have to play with more spirit. We were on our heels a little bit at times. We want to be in more of an attack mode and that will be addressed. We’ll get that corrected.”
The defense was led by cornerback Maverick Edmunds’ seven tackles, four solo. Kyle Norberg and Will Ratelle each had four while Shea Walker, Idowu and Carr all finished with three.
The scrimmage ended the spring season for the coaching staff but the recruiting season is still on.
UND’s roster could look considerably different in the fall with the addition of high school recruits and possible transfers.
“We’ve got some spots open on our team,” said Schweigert. “We’re always going to be recruiting in our program. Our guys know that.
“There are two ways to improve your team. You develop guys and you bring in different personnel. We’re always going to be challenging our guys.
“Our goal is to play with effort and execute our stuff. We’re going to keep it real simple as we move into the summer and into the fall.
“But this was a good day. I had fun watching our guys.”