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NDSU Bison blessed with backup at several spots
North Dakota State got more than a victory Saturday night against Lafayette College (Pa.). The Bison got some reinforcement in what the coaches have thought all along: the backups can play, too.
NDSU juggled players on and off the field like a clown juggles bowling pins at a circus.
Bison head coach Craig Bohl said Monday it’s the deepest team he’s had in his nine years at NDSU and no more was that evident last Saturday night then in the offensive and defensive lines. The offensive line, after a few missed assignments in the first half, made the absence of starting left tackle Billy Turner a non-issue with a big second half in the 42-6 victory.
The win didn’t change NDSU’s standing in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision coaches poll. The Bison remained No. 11.
NDSU’s defense gave up only 198 yards in a night when almost everybody played. The statistic of note: Sixteen players had at least two tackles and that doesn’t include starting defensive tackle Leevon Perry and four key backups in defensive end Scott Stoczynski, cornerback Aireal Boyd, defensive tackle Justin Juckem and linebacker Grant Olson, who were all credited with one tackle each.
“Right now we’re deeper in a lot of positions,” Bohl said.
Juckem is just returning to the lineup because of a concussion and Olson left the game with the same injury, although Bohl doesn’t expect him to miss much time.
Three defensive ends, Coulter Boyer, Cole Jirik and Kyle Emanuel each had a quarterback sack and defensive end Ricky Hagen had three tackles.
“I thought our depth at defensive end was phenomenal,” Bohl said. “That will benefit us as we go through the season.”
The Bison should return to some normalcy on the offensive line this week when they host Saint Francis University (Pa.) at the Fargodome. Turner, who missed the Lafayette game after having surgery on his thumb, will start. Bohl said right tackle Jeff Jerve, who earned a starting spot in spring football before hurting his knee, will return to practice this week. Backup offensive tackle Jason Pomerenke, should return soon from an MCL injury in his knee.
“All those offensive linemen are very capable offensive linemen,” Bohl said.
That leaves receiver Zach Vraa as the only player out for an extended period of time. Bohl said the broken collarbone will keep him out “for several weeks.”
It will be another test of depth. Sophomore Ryan Smith will start opposite Warren Holloway on Saturday and freshman Trevor Gebhart will play a lot. Sophomore Cooper Wahlo, the fastest receiver, may see the field more.
Bison add opponents for 2012, 2013
NDSU added another home game for 2012 and most likely completed its schedule for 2013. Robert Morris University, the same FCS school that came to Fargo for a first round playoff game last year, will return to the Fargodome next season.
NDSU athletic director Gene Taylor said the game with the Colonials was in the mix before the playoff matchup.
The Bison will host Western Carolina in 2013 bringing the number of games for that season to 11. Teams are allowed to schedule 12 games in 2013 and 2014 because of the way the calendar falls, but the Bison historically have shied away from that.
Both Robert Morris, not to be confused with the Robert Morris College (Ill.) that Minnesota State Moorhead played on Saturday, and Western Carolina are one-game contracts worth about $125,000 to each school, which includes a charter airplane and cash.
Taylor said the University of North Dakota was not a possibility in either 2012 or 2013. It appears the earliest the Bison and UND could play would be 2015.
By: Jeff Kolpack, INFORUM