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UND looking for depth after season-ending injuries to linemen
The University of North Dakota football team’s bye week is expected to help the Fighting Sioux get healthier for the stretch run of the season.
Unfortunately, it also will be used for another purpose — to find depth on the offensive and defensive lines after injuries ended the season for two of UND’s top linemen.
Head coach Chris Mussman said senior defensive lineman Broc Bellmore and junior offensive guard Emmett Lynch both will miss the final five games for the Sioux, who entered the bye week with a 4-2 record and a Top 25 ranking in both NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision polls.
Bellmore, a senior from West Fargo, hurt his shoulder at Southern Utah two weeks ago. Lynch suffered a broken ankle last week against Montana Western.
“Both of those guys were pretty heartbroken, especially Broc because he couldn’t finish his career the way he wanted,” Mussman said.
Bellmore was an anchor on the Sioux defensive line. His specialty was blocking kicks. He finished with seven for his career.
“Broc’s injury really hurt,” Mussman said. “That’s the one position we can’t afford to get anyone nicked up. Guys will have to step up; it’s plain and simple. Guys will have to take more reps than they’re used to.”
Injuries now have claimed two starting offensive linemen. Tackle Brandon Quesenberry was lost to an ankle injury in UND’s opener against Drake. Lynch was the Sioux right guard.
“We’ve lost the starting right side of the offensive line but that will give other guys an opportunity to step in,” Mussman said. “(Caleb) Gillson will get the first opportunity. We’ll move (starting right tackle) Connor McKendry to guard. Shea Walker will get some looks; Jay Hoerchner also will get some looks and we’ll have to give (starting left guard) Joe Kleason some reps at tackle in case something else happens.
“One more injury and we’re really in trouble,” the coach said. “Right now, we should be fine.”
UND’s offensive line has been the big reason for the team’s offensive strength — running the football. The Sioux, led by tailback Jake Miller’s 695 yards and 12 touchdowns, average 185 rushing yards per game.
Mitch Sutton, who was the starting tailback at the start of the season, is recovering from a pulled hamstring he suffered at Fresno State in mid-September.
Mussman hopes Sutton will be available for UND’s homecoming game Oct. 22 against Cal Poly.
By WAYNE NELSON, Grand Forks Herald