ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

College football: Sioux up to speed

More speed has been a recruiting priority for UND the past two seasons. Now, it's time to see how some of that speed performs on the football field. UND opens spring practice Monday at Memorial Stadium. In the spotlight will be a redshirt freshma...

More speed has been a recruiting priority for UND the past two seasons.

Now, it's time to see how some of that speed performs on the football field.

UND opens spring practice Monday at Memorial Stadium. In the spotlight will be a redshirt freshman class that will be expected to shoulder a considerable load as the Sioux enter their third Division I FCS season.

The immediate focus will be on the freshmen.

"We've got to get the 20-plus freshmen that we redshirted up to speed," UND coach Chris Mussman said. "That will be the biggest thing. Our upper classes are relatively smaller than we've had in the past few years.

ADVERTISEMENT

"We'll be more talented, athletically. But we'll be inexperienced in some key areas."

Receiver could be one area where UND will be inexperienced.

Last year's leading receiver, Ismael Bamba, may not play next season, which could be a setback considering he led the Sioux with 52 receptions in 2009. He currently is suspended and will not participate in spring practice.

"Technically, he's on the team," Mussman said. "But he's on pretty thin ice. I'm preparing the team for life without Ismael."

Bamba and Ryan Konrath, who graduated, combined for 94 of UND's 191 receptions last season.

Bamba's potential absence could open the door for a handful of freshmen and sophomores.

Mussman said Ryan Dressler, Chris Anderson, John Heimler and Drew Daggett all will get serious looks to carry the load at receiver as well redshirt freshmen Blair Townsend and Greg Hardin. Dressler and Anderson combined for 40 receptions and 274 yards last season.

Mussman said running back Jarrel Davis also may get a look at receiver. "He has great, soft hands," Mussman said.

ADVERTISEMENT

However, the receiving corps could get immediate help in the fall when the true Sioux freshmen arrive at Memorial Stadium.

"The reality of it is that we may have to pull the redshirt off one or two of the skill kids we signed," Mussman said. "You might see as many as three to four redshirts pulled."

UND's 2010 recruiting class appears to have more speed than the 2009 group, but UND wants to maintain the redshirts on as many true freshmen as possible.

UND finished 6-5 last season and is 12-9 in its first two Division I seasons.

The Sioux will enter their third Division I season with no major philosophical changes. But there will be some new wrinkles.

"We'll work more with a no-huddle offense, the biggest reason being the 40-second clock," Mussman said. "With the clock, we're seeing a decline in the number of plays the offense runs. As the NCAA as moved to make (college football) a TV game, we've lost some plays here and there.

"We won't run a shotgun, spread, wide-open offense. We'll still run the ball. But a no-huddle offense gives us an opportunity to run more plays."

Defensively, UND will move more toward a true 3-4 alignment.

ADVERTISEMENT

"We've kind of drifted away from it the last couple of years," Mussman said.

Sioux defensive coaches recently spent time at Southern Illinois, where former UND defensive coordinator Bubba Schweigert runs a 3-4 with the Salukis.

"I wanted our guys to see what they're seeing," Mussman said.

UND will practice three times each week. The annual Green-White game is scheduled for April 24 at the Alerus Center.

The Sioux will open spring practice with 15 returning starters, eight on defense.

"We should be pretty solid defensively," the UND coach said. "Through spring ball, the offense will have some catching up to do."

Nelson reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1268; (800) 477-6572, ext. 268; or send e-mail to wnelson@gfherald.com .

Wayne Nelson is the sports editor at the Herald.


He has been with the Grand Forks Herald since 1995, serving as the UND football and basketball beat writer as well as serving as the sports editor.



He is a UND graduate and has been writing sports since the late 1970s.



Follow him on Twitter @waynenelsongf. You can reach him at (701) 780-1268 or wnelson@gfherald.com.
What To Read Next
Featuring prep basketball results from across the region, boys and girls hockey scores, men's and women's tennis results, and much more!
Featuring area prep sports cancellations and postponements, local boys and girls basketball results, N.D. girls wrestling second edition coaches' poll and much more!
Featuring the prep honor roll, area college basketball conference standings, N.D. Class A and B prep basketball polls, and much more!
Featuring boys and girls hockey results from throughout the region, area prep basketball scores, boys swimming and diving results, and much more!