In assessing the fall workouts for his football team, UND coach Bubba Schweigert made sure to distinguish between how he felt about results on the field or off.
"When you look at the football-only stuff, it felt like spring ball," Schweigert said. "You'd practice, then teach, then practice. You could see the progress within the team."
Last week, UND wrapped up an every-other-day, 15-practice regimen. With the regular season getting flipped in 2020 from the fall to the spring due to the pandemic, so too was the slate of practices usually called "spring ball."
"We think it was really good for the young guys," Schweigert said. "This is the first time you've really had first-year guys to through that. It's like they all early-enrolled. Usually guys are learning so fast during fall camp because it's every day. This way it slowed it down."
The challenge for the Fighting Hawks was keeping enough players available for practice, due to positive COVID-19 tests or quarantine requirements for close contacts. UND's practice schedule went a week longer than planned because the team shut down for a week at one point due to a high number of athletes impacted by positive tests or quarantine needs.
"It was good for our football team overall to be together and do football stuff," Schweigert said. "When you look at football-only, it was really good. The challenging part of it was not having guys there every day. The first part of staff meetings was always a health report. Toward the end (of the 15 practices), we were pretty good but our (COVID-19) numbers got pretty high at one time and so we paused. That was a coaching staff decision, where we just said let's hold off for more of our guys to be available the last two weeks."
The team wrapped up the practice schedule with a 50-play scrimmage last Friday.
When asked to evaluate some of the young talent the staff was able to see more of this fall, Schweigert said offensively he was pleased with the continued development of sophomore running back Luke Skokna, who became a prominent part of the UND offense late last season.
He also liked the potential of rookie running back Creighton Mitchell, one of the team's top recruits a year ago. Mitchell, a short but speedy back, enrolled early at UND, so he spent last spring and this fall learning the offense.
Schweigert was impressed with rookie wide receivers Marcus Preston of Kansas, Elijah Klein of Mandan and Bo Belquist of New Rockford, as well as the play of redshirt freshman quarterback Tommy Schuster and true freshman quarterback Quincy Vaughn.
"(The rookie wide receivers) were guys we felt could develop into really good players and the early signs are good," Schweigert said.
As for defensive newcomers, Schweigert noted the explosiveness of freshman linebacker Quinn Urwiler of Mooseheart, Ill.
The staff also was impressed with the furthered evaluation of St. Cloud State transfer Devon Krzanowski, an inside linebacker, who joined the program after the Huskies' program was cut last year.