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FOOTBALL: UND’s spring practices heavy on tackling, blocking

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As a senior, UND safety Baylee Carr takes nothing for granted.

It’s the way things are being done these days at Memorial Stadium as a new coaching staff is in place for UND football.

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“Definitely, there is a different message being sent,” said Carr.

The message?

“We’re being a little more aggressive,” said Carr. “There are high standards around here. That’s from the top on down, whether you’re a senior or a freshman.”

UND wrapped up its fifth football practice of the spring season Saturday at Memorial Stadium. And, like the previous four practices, there was an emphasis on fundamentals — tackling and blocking.

“We’re having more live tackling drills than we’ve had before,” said Carr. “That’s good; that’s how you get better, by doing it.”

UND struggled defensively last season, ranking 12th out of 13 Big Sky teams in scoring defense. UND allowed 33.9 points last season. In total defense, UND ranked ninth in the league, allowing 431.8 yards.

Poor tackling certainly didn’t help those numbers.

“We want to be good at tackling, running to the ball and getting off blocks,” said UND defensive coordinator Eric Schmidt. “It’s no secret that if you’re good at those things, you’re a pretty good defense.

“We’re trying to put some meat into what we’re putting on paper.”

Schemes and blitz packages will be installed as the spring season progresses.

“In the spring, it’s all about development,” said Schmidt. “We’re not too worked about schemes right now. We’re trying to find out who are the guys that can make a tackle one-on-one; who can get off a block; who can rusher the passer.

“We can teach guys.”

With 10 more spring practices to go, Schmidt said he’s pleased with the overall progress of the UND defense.

“I don’t know if we’re ever totally satisfied,” he said. “But every day our guys have gotten better. Our guys seem to be young and eager. What I like about them is that they’ll look you in the eye and honestly try to do better the next time.”

UND returns to the practice field Monday. The annual Green and White game is set for April 26 at the Alerus Center.

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