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Think Big: Day one in the books
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Updated: Thursday 03/29/2012 10:04:31 (ET)
by UNDsports.com
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GRAND FORKS, N.D. - Head coach Chris Mussman brought his team together at the end of his squad's initial practice of the spring on Monday and simply said, "Not bad for the first day". It was a historical day for the program as well, serving as the first on-field work as an official member of the Big Sky Conference and that was not lost on the fifth-year head coach.

His post-practice speech concluded with a reminder to the players their new conference home is where the focus needs to be. "It's all about the Big Sky now," were the parting words from Mussman. 

The team had to overcome one unexpected challange after two weeks of temperatures ranging in the 60s and 70s. During the two-hour session, strong winds howled through Memorial Stadium, reaching up to 40 miles per hour in force. 

"It was a typical first day," Mussman said. "Of course we have a stretch of great weather, then open camp on the worst day. So, we were sloppy in some areas.

"Offensively, we put the ball on the ground a couple of times with exchanges, dropped some passes, but also made some nice plays. Defensively, we just focused on getting guys in the right spots and pursuing the ball. Those are minor things now, but turn into major things during a game. But, all-in-all it was a good day."

The team, which worked out with only helmets and their green and white practice jerseys, went through the usual special team drills, individual work and got right into 11-on-11 work.

After a shaky start that Mussman alluded to earlier, the offense put together a nice final period. Junior R.J. McGill (Phoenix, Ariz.) made a pair of nice catches as all four quarterbacks on the spring roster received an equal amount of reps during the practice.

The special teams did spend a little extra time on a new rule change coming for the 2012 season. Kickoffs were moved up to the 35-yard line and all players except the kicker must start inside the 30-yard line, giving them only a five-yard run-off before the ball is kicked.

The Sioux will return to the practice field on Wednesday for another two-hour session in helmets only before putting on the full pads for the first time on Friday.

Season tickets are available for UND's first season in the Big Sky, starting at $60 a seat. To reserve your seat today call 701-777-4582 or visit.FightingSioux.com.  

Practice Notes:
 Newcomers practicing for the first time on Monday were quarterback Braden Hanson (Charlotte, N.C.), punter Jordan Christianson (Hurst, Texas), linebacker Derrick Goard (Homewood, Ill.), defensive back Williams James (Sollentuna, Sweden), placekicker Bobby Gutierrez (Gainesville, Texas) and defensive lineman E.J. Welch (Biwabik, Minn.) ... This Saturday's (March 31) practice originally slated to start at noon will begin at 10:30 a.m. ... Next Saturday's (April 7) first scrimmage will begin at 1:30 p.m.

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