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UND football fall camp Day 6: Morrison, Johnson give defensive line lengthy experience

Jalen Morrison, Jaelen Johnson provide experience to a defense that loses seven of its top eight tacklers from 2021.

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Fighting Hawks head football coach Bubba Schweigert answers media questions following the first fall practice of the season at Memorial Stadium in Grand Forks on Wednesday, August 3, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — The UND defense lost seven of its top eight tacklers from a year ago but experience isn't a problem on the defensive line.

Nose guard Jalen Morrison and defensive end Jaelen Johnson return as starters and both have played in at least 28 career games.

But both Jalen and Jaelen have plenty to prove in 2022 after missing time with injuries in 2021. Johnson started the first six games at defensive end before missing the second half of the year with an injury, while Morrison was limited to eight games.

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The Fighting Hawks will face a run-heavy opponent in Youngstown State, a program entering the matchup with questions at quarterback.

UND defensive line coach Austin Flyger said both Morrison and Johnson are putting together strong falls as the leaders of that group.

The third starter in UND's 3-4 is expected to be Minnesota Gophers transfer Ben McNaboe, who started in place of Johnson down the stretch in his sophomore season.

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McNaboe, who's bigger and listed at 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds this fall, got his feet wet in college football last fall with 19 tackles and 3.5 for loss.

UND's depth is still getting sorted out at fall camp as players such as Luke Lennon, Casey Schultz, Elijah Beach and Craig Orlando continue to develop.

UND has used more of Beach and Orlando at defensive end in certain looks this fall in case the Fighting Hawks want to match an offense with more physicality.

Day 6 notes

The scene: UND practiced indoors at the Pollard Center (with a mix of outdoor practice for punting) in pads from 8:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.

Play of the day: Red Wilson, who's drawn consistent buzz at fall camp, made a diving catch on a deep bomb from Quincy Vaughn.

Looking good: UND worked on punts outdoors as the roof of the indoor facility is too low for punting and both starter Cade Peterson and rookie Luke Silvernale boomed their reps.

Other notes

  • Rookie running back Anthony Moe-Tucker went through parts of practice for the first time this season as he recovers from an injury.
  • It's the point of fall camp where a few players are starting to pick up injuries. I won't dive much into injuries until it appears they could impact the regular season.
  • Tommy Schuster was sharp for the second day in a row, hitting Bo Belquist, Jack Wright and running back Tyler Hoosman on short balls during 11-on-11 work.
  • Prior to Quincy Vaughn's long bomb to Red Wilson, the defense picked up a "sack" when inside linebacker Tommy Kimball broke into the backfield.
  • Safety Sammy Fort had an interception of Simon Romfo off a tipped pass. Fort then emphatically dunked the ball into a garbage can, per turnover tradition at UND practices.
  • Richard Agyekum, who's fighting for playing time at cornerback, had a nice pass breakup of a Simon Romfo ball intended for second-year wide receiver Nick Kupfer.
  • Rookie Sam Strandell from Grand Forks Central had his best reps of his young career catching a back-shoulder throw from Perham product Colton Hackel late in team work.
  • Team work ended with a nice break up by rookie cornerback Jamal Dixon, a Moorhead product.
  • After team work indoors, UND went outside to work on punts from both Cade Peterson and Luke Silvernale. UND also worked on punts from emergency options (a number of kickers).
  • Catching the punts were C.J. Siegel, Garett Maag, Red Wilson and defensive back Cole Davis.
Related Topics: UND FOOTBALLUND SPORTS
Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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