SPRING FOOTBALL PROSPECTUS
GRAND FORKS, N.D. - The time has finally come for first-year head coach Bubba Schweigert to put the whistle around his neck and see how the 68 young men that make up his North Dakota spring football roster can perform on the gridiron.
“I’m excited. We’ve gone through winter workouts and it’s time for us to get out on the field and do football stuff,” Schweigert said.
That opportunity for Schweigert and his nine-man staff begins on Friday with the opening of 15 spring practices. Not surprisingly, the emphasis of those sessions will be placed on player evaluation and system implementation.
“Spring ball will give us a chance to evaluate our guys in their position work and, really, it will be their first chance to learn our offense and defense. That is what has to take place here. It’ll be a big challenge for our guys to learn to execute the offense and defense and start to develop who we are as a team, but I’m looking forward to it.”
North Dakota enters a new era with Schweigert at the helm, but the Zeeland, N.D., native is no stranger to the program. He served as an assistant coach in Grand Forks from 1989-2003 and was the defensive coordinator on the 2001 Division II national championship team.
With 32 healthy players on both offense and defense entering spring ball, Schweigert wants his squad to start developing an identity right away. “We are going to have different philosophies on offense and defense then the previous staff and what we will try to do over the next month is fit the current guys we have into those systems.”
Schweigert and company have already made a few position changes entering the spring and more could be on the way. Last year’s starting nose guard Ben Henson will take a crack at center in offensive coordinator Paul Rudolph’s scheme, while the player he replaces at center, Shea Walker, will trade spots and play nose guard in defensive coordinator Eric Schmidt’s 3-4 scheme.
“You want to put guys in the right spots for what we are trying to do. I think that is especially true on defense because we have been a staff that has moved safeties to linebackers, linebackers to the D-line and there may be some of that that takes place as we get moving into the spring. That is the big thing, finding the right spots for the guys,” he added.
Senior Tyrhe Ivery will also change positions, but the Garland, Texas native is moving back to wide receiver where he has played before during his UND career.
As for the challenges that come with being a new staff, Schweigert wants to spend these 15 spring practices finding out what these young men can are capable of doing on the football field. And, for a staff that has only two carry overs (wide receivers coach Danny Freund and outside linebackers coach Joel Schwenzfeier) from the previous regime, there is a lot for the new staff members to learn about this squad.
“Can we run this type of play? Can we throw the ball down the field? What kind of skills does each player possess? When you look at the quarterbacks, what does each one do well and where do they need to improve? We want to be able to run the football and develop some consistency there, so we want to find out who the guy will be to do run the ball how we want to run it and carry the load for us,” Schweigert said.
“Defensively, we really want to be a unit that communicates well and plays with great effort. Offensively, we want to play with that same effort and we are going to coach to the point where we play whistle-to-whistle.”
Schweigert does not expect for these 15 spring sessions to be overly-physical right away because with 66 healthy bodies participating, he knows the value of staying healthy. “One of the goals for us is to find that happy medium where we are practicing enough, but staying healthy at the same time. We want guys in there learning our stuff. You don’t learn much by standing on the sidelines,” he added.
“So, we are really going to challenge our guys to take care of themselves. When we are working, we’ll be working hard, but when there is some time off, we need to be in the film room getting the mental work done too.”
Schweigert has 34 letterwinners back from the 2013 team that went 3-8 overall and 2-6 in Big Sky play. There are also 19 players that redshirted a year ago that will be looking to impress their new coaching staff. Among those are six returning starters on offense and four on defense.
“I want to see who really wants to compete. All jobs are open. That is one thing when you come into a situation like this,” Schweigert said. “Our players have to understand we are constantly evaluating them.
“It’s a blank slate, but we do have a depth chart because you have to start somewhere, but once we get out there, I would think that will move and shuffle some. Everybody has an opportunity and that is how we are approaching it.”
Schweigert also comes equipped with the valuable experience gained from leading a program before. He was the head coach at Minnesota-Duluth from 2004-07 and understands the transition that occurs within a team when changes take place on a coaching staff.
“The last head coaching opportunity I had the team was coming off an 8-3 season, so they were very resistant to any change,” he said. “But, I think when you have a season like our team had a year ago, then guys are going to be a little more open to change.
“Everybody likes a routine and we are trying to get the guys into a routine that we believe is best for our football team. And, the one thing we keep stressing is that everything is evaluated and we want everybody engaged in the entire process.”
One area that Schweigert thinks spring ball will help with is team chemistry. “So far, we seem to be a collection of individuals as opposed to a team. That is one thing we really need to work hard at during the spring. Some of that happens when you are doing a lot of individual work like we have been, so we have to develop a team chemistry over the next month.”
He thinks the day-by-day theme that has been the team’s mantra since the opening meeting back in mid-January has been critical over the last three months and will intensify as the team hits the field on Friday. “Back in January, we really wanted to start with not looking too far ahead. You try to get guys to control what they can control and you do that one day at a time,” Schweigert said. “Just get through the day doing things the right way.
“All of this has to do with a job and we talk to the guys about that job, which is going to class, going to study table, learning our offense and defense and the workouts. Now, we add practice to that. That is part of the job. When we say day-by-day, it means each day we are out there we need to get better at something and we’ll see where we are at after the first day. When day two rolls around, we want to be better than we were the day before. Every day you want to improve at something. Now that we are starting our practices, we can’t take a step backwards. We have to keep moving forward day after day.”
And, that next process cannot begin soon enough.
»2014 SPRING PRACTICE SCHEDULE
|March 28 (Fri.)||3:15 p.m.|
|March 29 (Sat.)||9:30 a.m.|
|March 31 (Mon.)||3:15 p.m.|
|April 2 (Wed.)||3:15 p.m.|
|April 4 (Fri.)||3:15 p.m.|
|April 7 (Mon.)||3:15 p.m.|
|April 9 (Wed.)||3:15 p.m.|
|April 11 (Fri.)||3:15 p.m.|
|April 14 (Mon.)||3:15 p.m.|
|April 16 (Wed.)||3:15 p.m.|
|April 18 (Fri.)||3:15 p.m.|
|April 21 (Mon.)||3:15 p.m.|
|April 23 (Wed.)||3:15 p.m.|
|April 25 (Fri.)||3:15 p.m.|
|Spring Game||Alerus Center|
|April 26 (Sat.)||1 p.m.|
All practices scheduled for Memorial Stadium unless otherwise noted
* Times and location subject to change
2014 Football Spring Roster
|1||Tyrhe Ivery||WR||Sr.||6-0||160||Garland, Texas (Garland H.S.)|
|2||Jer Garman||RB||Sr.||5-9||190||Marion, Iowa (Linn-Mar H.S.)|
|5||Stetson Carr||QB||RFr.||6-2||195||Hazen, N.D. (Univ. of Mary)|
|5||R.J. McGill||WR||Sr.||5-9||175||Phoenix, Ariz. (St. Mary's H.S.)|
|6||Ryan Bartels||QB||So.||6-3||215||Sycamore, Ill. (Sycamore H.S.)|
|8||Cole Reyes||DB||RFr.||6-2||205||Schaumburg, Ill. (Schaumburg H.S.)|
|9||Aeron Carr||WR||RFr.||5-10||175||Mesa, Ariz. (Red Mountain H.S.)|
|9||Dillon Olson||DB||Jr.||6-0||200||Grygla, Minn. (Grygla-Goodridge H.S.)|
|11||Kurt Palandech||QB||RFr.||6-2||180||Plainfield, Ill. (Plainfield North H.S.)|
|12||Brian Labat||LB||So.||6-3||225||Detroit Lakes, Minn. (Detroit Lakes H.S.)|
|13||Jake Hanson||QB||So.||6-0||210||Grafton, N.D. (Grafton H.S.)|
|14||Joe Mollberg||QB||So.||6-2||230||Detroit Lakes, Minn. (Detroit Lakes H.S.)|
|15||Garret Reineke||LB||Jr.||6-0||205||Thompson, N.D. (Thompson H.S.)|
|16||Romon Bridges||WR||Jr.||5-8||155||Stockton, Calif. (Edison H.S.)|
|17||Jake Disterhaupt||DB||RFr.||6-0||185||Willow River, Minn. (Moose Lake-Willow River H.S.)|
|18||Pat Brown||WR||Jr.||5-11||170||North Pole, Alaska (North Pole H.S.)|
|19||Will Lyons||DB||Fr.||5-11||185||Reno, Nev. (Sparks H.S.)|
|20||P.J. Sparks||RB||Jr.||5-8||195||Glendale, Ariz. (Mountain Ridge H.S.)|
|21||Chris Brown||DB||Jr.||5-8||165||Culver City, Calif. (Culver City H.S.)|
|23||Josh Seibel||DB||RFr.||5-11||170||Bismarck, N.D. (Bismarck H.S.)|
|24||Maverick Edmunds||DB||So.||5-10||175||Chanhassen, Minn. (Chanhassen H.S.)|
|26||Connor O'Brien||LB||RFr.||6-1||205||Lemont, Ill. (Lemont H.S.)|
|27||Patrick Sharp||RB||RFr.||5-10||185||Winfield, Ill. (Winfield North H.S.)|
|28||Dustin Iverson||FB||So.||6-3||250||Elgin, N.D. (Grant Country H.S.)|
|30||Dwayne Pecosky||FB||Sr.||6-1||240||Commerce City, Colo. (J.K. Mullen H.S.)|
|31||Dayo Idowu||LB||Jr.||6-2||210||Woodbury, Minn. (Eastridge H.S.)|
|32||Taj Rich||LB||So.||6-1||225||Minneapolis, Minn. (Robbinsdale Cooper H.S.)|
|33||Devin Coyle||DB||So.||5-11||195||Mandan, N.D. (Mandan H.S.)|
|34||Nick Schmitz||DL||RFr.||6-4||230||Mekinock, N.D. (Midway H.S.)|
|35||Tanner Vesladahl||FB||So.||6-3||240||Mott, N.D. (Mott Regent H.S.)|
|36||Zach Adler||TE||Jr.||6-3||245||Omaha, Neb. (Westside H.S.)|
|37||Javen Butler||DB||Jr.||6-2||200||Pittsburg, Calif. (Pittsburg H.S.)|
|38||William James||DB||Jr.||5-11||190||Sollentuna, Sweden (Sigrid Rudbecks)|
|39||Adam Shaugabay||RB||Sr.||6-0||200||Warroad, Minn. (Warroad H.S.)|
|40||Baylee Carr||DB||Sr.||5-10||195||Hazen, N.D. (Hazen H.S.)|
|42||Hunter Wharton||LB||RFr.||6-2||220||Brawley, Calif. (Brawley H.S.)|
|43||D.J. Beard||LB||RFr.||6-3||225||Culver City, Calif. (Culver City H.S.)|
|44||Alex Hickel||LB||Sr.||6-1||220||Grand Forks, N.D. (Red River H.S.)|
|45||Luke Mathewson||TE||So.||6-5||240||Libertyville, Ill. (Libertyville H.S.)|
|47||Tucker Nordby||TE||So.||6-4||230||Harvey, N.D. (Harvey H.S.)|
|49||Brandon Larson||LB||So.||6-2||215||Bemidji, Minn. (Bemidji H.S.)|
|50||Alex Nelson||LB||Jr.||6-2||230||Minot, N.D. (Minot H.S.)|
|51||Will Ratelle||LB||Jr.||5-11||245||Edina, Minn. (St. Thomas Academy)|
|52||Ben Peters||LB||Sr.||6-1||255||Chandler, Ariz. (Hamilton H.S.)|
|54||Marcus Cheatom||DL||So.||6-1||285||Chicago, Ill. (Brother Rice H.S.)|
|55||Kyle Norberg||LB||RFr.||6-1||220||Cary Grove, Ill. (Cary Grove H.S.)|
|59||Rashad Williams||OL||RFr.||6-5||270||Chicago, Ill. (Proviso East H.S.)|
|60||Jace Hellman||OL||Jr.||6-4||290||Grand Forks, N.D. (Red River H.S.)|
|61||Brandon Miller||OL||RFr.||6-5||290||Waterford, Wis. (Waterford Union H.S.)|
|63||Sean Meehan||OL||Jr.||6-5||300||Trevor, Wis. (Wilmot H.S.)|
|67||Shea Walker||DL||Sr.||6-1||300||St. Paul, Minn. (Cretin-Derham Hall H.S.)|
|68||Garrett Cary||DL||RFr.||6-4||285||Walworth, Wis. (Bigfoot H.S.)|
|69||Ben Henson||OL||Sr.||6-1||290||Buffalo, Minn. (Buffalo H.S.)|
|70||Ross Windfeldt||OL||Jr.||6-6||295||St. Cloud, Minn. (St. Cloud Tech H.S.)|
|71||Brandon Anderson||OL||Jr.||6-6||310||Sartell, Minn. (Sartell H.S.)|
|74||Devin Barton||OL||Sr.||6-5||310||Carrington, N.D. (Carrington H.S.)|
|76||Dan Bell||OL||RFr.||6-5||275||Menomonee Falls, Wis. (Menomonee Falls H.S.)|
|82||Zack Selland||WR||RFr.||6-4||190||Tualatin, Ore. (Horizon Christian Academy)|
|87||Casey Young||WR||Jr.||6-1||205||Aurora, Colo. (Regis Jesuit H.S.)|
|88||Kyle Ruhe||TE||RFr.||6-5||230||Temecula, Calif. (Great Oak H.S.)|
|89||Mitch Meindel||P||So.||6-2||190||Waukesha, Wis. (Catholic Memorial H.S.)|
|91||Spencer Cummings||DL||Sr.||6-4||280||Hugo, Minn. (White Bear Lake H.S.)|
|93||Alec Carrothers||DL||So.||6-2||245||Omaha, Neb. (Millard West H.S.)|
|94||Mat Cox||DL||RFr.||6-5||250||Olympia, Wash. (Capital H.S.)|
|95||Jake McElroy||DL||So.||6-3||250||Lakeville, Minn. (Lakeville North H.S.)|
|96||Berto Espinoza||DL||Sr.||6-2||260||Quincy, Calif. (Feather River CC)|
|97||Kyle Woodsmall||DL||Jr.||6-4||260||Wildwood, Mo. (Lafayette H.S.)|
|98||A.J. Stockwell||TE||RFr.||6-6||290||Apple Valley, Minn. (Eastview H.S.)
-- UND --