UND FOOTBALL: Running game may be a concern in 2014 season
Through seven spring practice sessions, UND has run only a handful of live plays — the ones involving full contact.
The live session came earlier this week. Not a lot could be taken from the quick session, which lasted about six plays.
One play, however, did stand out.
Running back Adam Shaugabay powered his way for roughly a 20-yard gain.
UND’s running game in 2014 will be a concern, considering North Dakota’s lack of depth. Shaugabay and Jer Garman are the two returning backs with most experience. Both carried the ball 45 times last season.
Shaugabay, a senior from Warroad, Minn., was UND’s power back last season. He rushed for 80 yards but led the team in touchdowns with eight.
Can Shaugabay be UND’s every-down back when the season starts Aug. 28 at San Jose State?
It’s too early to tell.
“At this level of football, you need more than one guy,” said UND coach Bubba Schweigert, who is installing a new run-oriented offense. “Unless you find that one guy that’s pretty unique, you probably have to do it by committee because it’s a tough, physical position.”
Shaugabay has been impressive in spring ball so far.
“We think he can be that power guy for us,” said Schweigert. “But we want him to be well-rounded. That’s what we’re shooting for.”
Shaugabay said he can’t wait for more live sessions.
“I’m just happy to be out here,” Shaugabay said after UND’s seventh practice of the spring wrapped up Wednesday at Memorial Stadium. “It’s a new offense. It takes time to learn. We’re getting there. We’re not where we want to be but every day we’re taking steps forward.”
UND practices remain heavy on technique and fundamentals.
But it’s obvious to the players that an emphasis will be placed on the run game in the fall.
“They’re really getting serious about the run game,” said Shaugabay. “I’m excited for the opportunities we’ll get.”
Shaugabay said he’s been impressed with UND’s new running backs coach, Kevin Maurice, who spent the past two seasons at Purdue.
“Coach Maurice is teaching us things we haven’t been taught in the past,” said Shaugabay. “It’s all starting to come around. It’s making sense.”
But the evaluation process at the running back position will continue through the spring season.
“We’re trying to sort out what guys do well; who can pass protect; who can catch the ball,” said Schweigert. “We’ve added a lot of stuff. With our different run plays, we’ll have to decide who can do different things.
“But we’ll sort it out.”