Spring game showcases new abilities, new coach

North Dakota football team takes the field under head coach Bubba Schweigert

Senior Zeb Miller throws the ball Saturday at the Alerus Center. Photo by Chester Beltowski/The Dakota Student.

Around 60 UND football players suited up Saturday for the team’s first game-like play under new head coach Bubba Schweigert.

Although there weren’t enough players for a true game, the “live sessions” were enough to show where the team is at.

“I had fun today watching our guys go live,” Schweigert said. “I thought our offense took a step forward running the ball and in the passing game. It was good to see us convert some third downs.”

The coach also was pleased with his team’s ability to turn things around after a slow-starting first half.

“Defensively, I thought we played much better during the second half of the scrimmage,” Schweigert said. “We tackled better and played more aggressively. Early in the game, we needed to play on our toes instead of our heels. You need to play this defense with a lot of emotion, so I was a little disappointed in that. But I felt as the scrimmage went along, we got better.”

A group of about 1,100 fans cheered on the team at the Alerus Center, happy no matter the outcome of each play as no score was kept.

The offense, dressed in white, was able to show versatility by setting up various plays — some end zone and some starting from their own goal line.

Multiple quarterbacks were given the chance to show their levels of ability with most of the young players stepping up to the job.

On his first play, redshirt freshman Ryan Bartels was sacked by sophomore teammate Dayo Idowu, but brushed it off quickly and went for 26 yards in his next three plays. The sophomore finished the scrimmage with 50 yards to lead QBs.

Also calling the shots were redshirt freshman Kurt Palandech and sophomore Joe Mollberg. Palandech ended the day with a total of 33 yards, all of which came off of one long drive, while Mollberg finished with 21 yards and a four-yard carry that got a first down.

On the other side of the line, the defensemen were wearing home-field green and holding their own, getting five sacks in all on the afternoon. Leading these men was defensive back Maverick Edmunds, who had one of the five sacks and seven tackles total.

Sophomore wide receiver Casey Young was pleased with how everyone played and is excited for where the team is at this point in time.

“Today’s game we did a really good job,” Young said. “We came out physical, we had a few mental errors but I think the coaches expect a lot out of us and we brought that out today. I was very pleased with how we did.

“It’s really good to see the success we had. The guys are starting to play with a little more confidence, a little faster, which helps us have those scoring plays. Beginning of spring, we were struggling a little bit learning a new system, but I think by today, practice 15 of spring, guys are getting a lot more confident.”

Marie Monson is the multimedia editor for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].