UND FOOTBALL: Tight ends, fullbacks expect to be bigger part of the offense
When UND football coach Bubba Schweigert was hired last winter, he promised fans a certain offensive style.
The style would be a run-first, smash-mouth, old-school brand of football, he said.
That was music to the ears of tight end Zach Adler and fullback Dwayne Pecosky.
UND’s pass-happy offenses the past few seasons often ignored the position groups of Adler and Pecosky.
Amazingly, no UND tight ends caught a single pass during the 2013 season, despite playing in an offense that threw for more than 3,000 yards.
“There was a sense of frustration,” said Adler, a 6-foot-3, 245-pound junior from Omaha. “All of my teammates at my position … we just want to compete. This opportunity we have now, through spring ball and now fall, we’re excited about the direction this offense is taking.
“We just want to have fun and play hard.”
Adler’s attitude is mirrored by Pecosky, a 6-foot, 240-pound senior.
“We want to bring our hard hat and work hard,” said Pecosky, who transitioned from defensive line to fullback two seasons ago. “We want to pound the rock and move the ball. That’s what football is — a tough, physical game.”
The way Adler and Pecosky talk, it’s no surprise that the new coaching staff has taken a liking to the tough guys who often fly under the radar.
“They’re good, tough, physical guys,” UND offensive coordinator Paul Rudolph said. “They’re the kind that we want to have more of in our program.”
Instead of last year’s offense that often went into five-wide receiver sets, UND hopes to get more big bodies on the field starting Thursday at San Jose State. That starts with fullbacks and tight ends.
In addition to Adler and Pecosky, UND will utilize tight end Kyle Ruhe and fullback Dustin Iverson.
Ruhe, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound redshirt freshman, has been impressive in the passing game during fall camp. Iverson, who played as a true freshman a year ago, is 6-foot-3 and 250 pounds from Elgin, N.D.
“We have guys we feel can be involved in both the run and pass game,” Rudolph said. “They’re pretty versatile. Some are better here or there, but we’re happy with how they’ve developed. It’s a good arsenal of tools. We expect those guys to be a vital cog in our offense.”
Rudolph said the tight ends haven’t struggled to adapt to the passing game, despite their lack of involvement in 2013.
“I wouldn’t use the word rust, but they had a few things to practice,” Rudolph said. “We’ve been pleased with their progress.”
Who: UND at San Jose State.
When: 9 p.m., Thursday, Spartan Stadium.
TV/radio: ESPN3; The Fox (96.1 FM).
Records: UND 3-8 last season; San Jose 6-6.
Of note: San Jose suspended Jarrod Lawson, last season’s leading rusher, for the team’s first two games of the season due to a violation of team rules.