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UND FOOTBALL: Annual spring game will be different this season

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Saturday’s annual Green-White spring game likely won’t answer a lot of questions for UND and its upcoming 2014 season.

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But it’ll be a start.

UND’s spring season comes to an end with its annual scrimmage, scheduled for a 1 p.m. start at the Alerus Center. It can also be viewed as the official beginning of coach Bubba Schweigert’s tenure as the North Dakota coach.

The spring season has been more about teaching and fundamentals rather than X’s and O’s as a new staff is in place and it’s one that will emphasize running the football.

“Hopefully, we’re winding up and not winding down,” said Schweigert. “This will be the highlight of the spring and our guys hopefully will show what they can do.”

The Green-White game will be more like a controlled scrimmage.

Red zone ready

The football will be placed in the red zone to start the scrimmage, to see how the offense and defense react. There will be goal-line plays along with normal down and distance plays from various spots of the Alerus Center turf.

“We just want to see guys make plays,” said Schweigert. “We want to see the defense pursue and contain. And we want the offense to take care of the ball, eliminate penalties and make positive plays.”

In all, the scrimmage will consist of roughly 50 plays.

The annual game will differ from past years because of two factors.

One, a new coaching staff is in place and the offense is still a work in progress. Defensively, UND should have the upper hand as it has retained its 3-4 alignment. That’s no surprise since Schweigert helped install the linebacker-dominant defense during his 15 years with the program as an assistant before taking the head job at Minnesota-Duluth in 2004.

Two, UND’s lack of depth is a concern. UND had a handful of players transfer after last season. Coupled with graduation, North Dakota is short in numbers at a handful of positions — notably cornerback and offensive line. Only three cornerbacks have been practicing and the line has been down to eight players at times.

But the numbers should improve when fall camp rolls around as high school recruits and possible transfers will begin practice at Memorial Stadium.

On Friday, UND had a light practice, its 14th of the spring season. Wednesday’s practice, however, was one of UND’s best of the 15-practice spring season.

“It was pretty spirited on both sides of the ball,” said Schweigert.

UND’s 2014 season begins Aug. 28 at San Jose State.

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Nelson is the sports editor of the Herald
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