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Bison near ready
Quarterback Nick Mertens and running back Tyler Roehl each spent a Saturday intrasquad football scrimmage looking more like spectators. They took a knee. They walked around. The morning wasn’t about them.
It was about evaluating the North Dakota State backups and as usual, it will probably take a few looks at the film to figure it out.
What’s not hard to figure out is the mindset of the players. The Aug. 28 season opener against Austin Peay is coming quick.
“I’ve been waiting for it ever since the closing horn at South Dakota State,” Roehl said. “It left a bitter taste.”
That taste was the result of a season-ending 29-24 loss to the Jackrabbits. It spoiled NDSU’s bid for an unbeaten season.
But when the players reported on July 31, the thought was more on getting through the regimen of meetings, practices, more meetings and more practices. Next week, however, the focus will turn to the Governors.
“Next week, we’ll start buckling down on the first opponent,” Roehl said.
The scrimmage was a peaceful conclusion to a week that wasn’t the smoothest. Two highly touted freshmen left the team for personal reasons and a host of players missed practice time with various minor ailments.
“There was good, brisk play out there,” said head coach Craig Bohl. “We accomplished a lot of the things we needed to accomplish.”
The focus was to sort out some battles for No. 2 positions. Quarterback Troy Jackson established himself, especially with freshman Jose Mohler out until his eligibility from high school is certified by the NCAA.
“He threw the ball well,” Bohl said.
In a change from the first scrimmage last Saturday, the offense scored. Jackson tossed a perfect 27-yard yard over-the-shoulder throw to Belquist in the end zone to end the drought.
“There was some good hitting and some good play on both sides of the football,” Bohl said.
The offense’s best player was probably running back D.J. McNorton. After missing a couple of days with his own academic issues, the redshirt freshman showed some moves that turned heads last year in practice.
“I thought D.J. McNorton did a couple of spectacular things with the football,” Bohl said.
By Jeff Kolpck