UND football: Offense wants to make a statement

If two things happen at today's UND annual Green-White scrimmage, what already has been a solid spring football season could turn into one of the program's best in recent years.

If two things happen at today's UND annual Green-White scrimmage, what already has been a solid spring football season could turn into one of the program's best in recent years.

"We want to take care of the football on offense and we want to be healthy coming out of the scrimmage," UND coach Chris Mussman said.

The scrimmage, scheduled for a 1 p.m. start at the Alerus Center, will cap the spring season for the Sioux, who will enter their third Division I FCS season in September with an experienced defense and an offense that is finding its way.

UND's final week of spring ball, Mussman said, has been productive -- especially on the offensive side of the ball.

"We took a step forward as a team this week," Mussman said. "We pushed our guys mentally every day. We added new stuff every day this week and our guys handled it well."


UND opened spring drills with 18 players that saw extended playing time last season on defense.

On offense, only five guys with considerable experience were at the first spring practice on March 31.

There have been two scrimmages so far, with the defense leading the way. But the offense made considerable strides last week in the second scrimmage.

UND will open the season with a no-huddle offense. It's not a radically different Sioux offense, but the no-huddle was installed to generate more plays.

The offense has had its moments during the spring season.

The Sioux running game could have an impressive one-two punch with Mitch Sutton and Josh Murray at tailback. Murray sat out last season for academic reasons, but has had an impressive spring.

"I couldn't be more happy, more excited about being back on the field with the guys," Murray said. "I'm getting used being hit again. I'm getting into the swing of things."

Murray said the no-huddle is coming along.


"Communication is the big thing," Murray said. "We're trying to run more plays. Other than that, most of the plays are the same as last year. We're just running it out of the pistol offense."

With an experienced defense, the spring focus has been on the offense.

Mussman said the play of freshmen receivers Chris Townsend and Greg Hardin has stood out.

"They're physically getting better at what they need to do," Mussman said.

If there has been a surprise on offense, Mussman said, it's been the play of Catlin Solum, who was moved from tailback to fullback.

"We're kind of shutting him down," Mussman said. "He's gained some weight. He's been aggressive and physical. He's one of those kids you want sitting next to you when there is trouble."

Today's controlled scrimmage, which contains a special scoring system, will pit the defense against the offense.

The offense hopes to make an impression against the Sioux defense.


"Our defense comes at us pretty hard," said Murray, who rushed for more than 1,000 yards in 2008. "It's good to work against the top defense in the league."

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

UND spring game

What: UND Green-White scrimmage.

When: Today, 1 p.m., Alerus Center.

Radio: The Fan (1440 AM).

Up next: UND will open its 2010 football season Sept. 2 at Idaho.

Of note: There will be tailgating and events for kids prior to today's game.

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
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