UND's wide receiver depth on display at Spring Wrap-up
Early in UND's Spring Wrap-up on Friday night at the High Performance Center, the Fighting Hawks' offense targeted the proven wide receivers in Travis Toivonen and Noah Wanzek.
As the hour-long scrimmage developed, UND's passing game hit the newcomers in Cam McKinney, Mikey Griebel and quarterback-turned-receiver Brock Boltmann.
Overall, the Hawks showcased a bit of the receiving depth needed as the program shifts some of its philosophy under first-year play-caller Danny Freund to a spread look.
UND's offensive personnel is expected to feature more receivers on the field at one time next year as opposed to last year when the offense was under the direction of now-departed offensive coordinator Paul Rudolph, who featured an offense centered more on tight ends and a fullback.
"I think we've made progress," UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. "We're looking at ways to allow our best players to make plays, and we think our receivers are tough matchups."
In 2019, Toivonen and Wanzek will be fourth-year regulars. In the Spring Wrap-up, the pair showcased their strong hands in making a number of catches on the sidelines in the red zone.
As a whole, UND's passing game sputtered out of the gates at the scrimmage, missing on the first handful of opportunities—a sequence that included an interception by freshman cornerback C.J. Siegel, who Schweigert mentioned as a spring standout after the event.
"We liked that we made some plays on both sides of the ball," Schweigert said. "We would've liked to have got off to a better start offensively. We recovered and made some plays. It's hard when you go against your own guys the entire spring. Your tendencies are there."
After the initial grabs by Toivonen and Wanzek, UND turned its attention to some of the younger, shiftier receivers in the Hawks' repertoire.
McKinney, who's taking repetitions at receiver and running back, showed some of his big-play ability, as did Griebel and Boltmann, who had the most impressive catch of the day.
"We think we've got some talent there," Schweigert said. "Any time you have talent, you have to figure out a way to use it. We think we have a strong core. Then we mix in guys who are getting better with Cam, Brock ... and Mikey has taken good steps. We'll need depth there the way we want to play."
Spring ball is often a time to look at the up-and-coming talent on a roster. Running back James Johannesson and defensive end Mason Bennett didn't participate in the Spring Wrap-up as the roster's proven, veteran talent.
Despite that focus, Wanzek and Toivonen made enough plays to remind everyone of their worth and potential for 2019.
"Those guys are really hard workers and that's why they've developed into top-notch receivers," Schweigert said. "They're big and strong and good route-runners. They set a real tone. We wanted to get them some chemistry (with our quarterbacks)."