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Spring season answers a few questions

UND didn't have great weather to start with. A number of Sioux players have been bothered by minor injuries. And there are a lot of new faces trying to make their mark after UND lost 20 players to graduation last season.

UND didn't have great weather to start with. A number of Sioux players have been bothered by minor injuries. And there are a lot of new faces trying to make their mark after UND lost 20 players to graduation last season.

But UND's spring football season has been a success, said Sioux coach Dale Lennon.

"It's been a work in progress," Lennon said. "But it's been a good spring."

UND's spring season concludes today with the annual Green-White scrimmage at Memorial Stadium.

Sioux coaches hope the controlled scrimmage will provide a few more answers as UND prepares for its final season as an NCAA Division II program.

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UND's concerns entering the spring season focused on the defense and quarterback.

The Sioux return only three defensive starters. "But I've been very pleased with the defensive progression," Lennon said.

For much of the past decade, UND's strength has been its defense. The Sioux seemingly have depth and experience at virtually every position year after year.

However, the Sioux will have a different look defensively in the fall. The Sioux will have the look of youth.

Their most experienced defensive player will be senior cornerback Donovan Alexander. Other returning starters are lineman Alex Cadwell and linebacker Robbie Meek.

And the Sioux linebacker corps - long regarded as the program's overall strength - will be comprised of mainly sophomores and juniors.

Of the 12 seniors expected to resume practice in the fall, only four play defense.

"This is probably the youngest we've been on defense since the 2002 season."

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But the opposite is true on offense.

The Sioux will enter the fall with one of their more experienced offensive units, led by All-America receiver Weston Dressler, a dynamic 5-foot-8 receiver who should receive considerable Harlon Hill Award consideration in the fall.

UND has offensive experience in every area except quarterback.

Besides Dressler, who caught 90 passes for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns last season, the Sioux also return receiver Brady Trenbeath, who was on the receiving end of 60 passes for 753 yards.

UND's running game also should be solid as Ryan Chappell returns for his sophomore season. The former Grand Forks Central standout had a dynamic freshman season, rushing for 1,253 yards and 15 touchdowns on 191 carries.

And the Sioux line may be as experienced as its been in a handful of seasons. Center Mitch Braegelmann and guard Brian Troen are two of the best linemen in the North Central Conference. The Sioux return four starters on the line.

The quarterback position, however, is untested. Danny Freund, who will be a junior, clearly is the No.1 quarterback coming out of spring ball. In the past few practices, Freund has progressed significantly, looking sharp throwing both the short and long ball.

"Danny has had a very good spring," Lennon said.

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Fruend - along with the rest of the offense - made major strides during the last week as the Sioux began to practice on a near daily basis, which was necessitated because of poor weather to start the spring season.

As always, the spring season, Lennon said, will go a long way toward determining the personality of the 2007 Sioux.

"The dynamics of the team will be completely different from last year," Lennon said. "We have to find a new identity."

Reach Nelson at 780-1268, (800) 477-6572 ext. 268 or wnelson@gfherald.com .

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