Not much drop-off: Goodman, Peters ready to fill linebacker spotsDan Hendrickson was UND’s leading tackler for the past two seasons and an all-Great West Conference selection at linebacker as a senior. In looking to replace such a defensive leader, the experience and skill of Garrison Goodman and Ben Peters have made the transition smoother than expected.
By: Tom Miller, Grand Forks Herald
Dan Hendrickson was UND’s leading tackler for the past two seasons and an all-Great West Conference selection at linebacker as a senior.
In looking to replace such a defensive leader, the experience and skill of Garrison Goodman and Ben Peters have made the transition smoother than expected.
“We’re young but we have experience,” Goodman said. “The learning curve is short because we’ve all done it before. The transition has been pretty easy so far. That’s what spring ball was for, getting acclimated.”
Goodman, a junior, played behind Hendrickson for two seasons. The San Ramon, Calif., native played in all 22 games as a freshman and sophomore totaling 51 tackles in the two seasons.
Now, Goodman has the starting role all to himself.
“Garrison played a lot of football for us last year,” UND linebackers coach and assistant head coach Josh Kotelnicki said. “He’s doing a good job. I’m happy with his progress. He’s been doing that since he was a redshirt freshman.”
In UND’s defensive scheme that features four linebackers, Peters currently has the starting role next to Goodman. Peters, a sophomore from Chandler, Ariz., is in a starting battle with junior Brian Otto.
“Those two are duking it out for one spot,” Kotelnicki said.
As the coaching staff monitors the progress of the young linebackers, Kotelnicki said the most important thing is for his inside linebackers to be heady.
“You can be a smart football player and an average athlete and be very successful inside linebacker,” he said. “It’s much more difficult to do that at outside linebacker.”
Kotelnicki is confident in the team’s depth with Goodman, Peters, Otto and Goodman’s backup, Will Ratelle, a redshirt freshman from Edina, Minn.
Kotelnicki is also interested to see how junior college transfer Derrick Goard fits into the mix. Goard arrived at UND from DuPage College (Ill.) during the spring.
“He’s the wildcard,” Kotelnicki said. “We’re hoping he can play for us. Physically, he can do it.”
Although Hendrickson and Goertz have exhausted their eligibility, Peters said the two still have an impact on his position group.
“They were a huge influence,” Peters said. “Dan did everything 100 percent and knew his responsibilities at all times. That’s something we need to learn and do also.”
Goodman said his group is ready to step into Hendrickson’s role.
“Dan was such a good player,” Goodman said. “He made a lot of plays that weren’t even necessarily his to make. Obviously we’re going to miss him. But now there will be plays that are going to need to be made, and I think we can make them.”
Miller reports on sports. Call him at (701) 780-1121; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1121; or send e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.