This will be your one-stop spot for all the going-ons in Park City, Utah at the 2014 Big Sky Football Kickoff. UND is represented by head coach Bubba Schweigert and senior safety Baylee Carr.
Tuesday, July 15
The last day of the Big Sky Kickoff is set aside for head coaches and the media to conduct interviews. The players only have a photo shoot to be a part of in the morning before most parties take off for their respective home towns.
Tuesday also marks the day that the preseason polls are released. The Big Sky distributes both a coaches' poll and a media poll. Coach Schweigert's first squad was picked to finish 10th by the coaches coming off a 3-8 season and a 2-6 mark in league play. The media tabbed UND 11th. Eastern Washington was the overwhelming favorite in both polls.
BIG SKY PRESEASON COACHES’ POLL
1. Eastern Washington (12) 144
2. Montana (1) 130
3. Montana State 111
4. Cal Poly 108
5. Northern Arizona 100
6. Southern Utah 89
7. Sacramento State 79
8. Portland State 71
9. UC Davis 66
10. North Dakota 34
11. Weber State 30
12. Idaho State 28
13. Northern Colorado 23
BIG SKY PRESEASON MEDIA POLL
1. Eastern Washington (34) 464
2. Montana (1) 416
3. Montana State (1) 364
4. Cal Poly 329
5. Northern Arizona 328
6. Southern Utah 299
7. UC Davis 228
8. Portland State 227
9. Sacramento State 222
10. Idaho State 124
11. North Dakota 121
12. Weber State 103
13. Northern Colorado 61
When you sit back and evaluate the 15 practices from the spring season, what did you learn
about this team?
“I think one thing I liked about our team was its willingness to learn. I thought our guys put forth a good effort, not just on the practice field but the players spent a lot of time in our offices pestering coaches to get better and learn our off ense and defense. Their hunger to learn a new system is what excited us as coaches and that eff ort is going to help us in the fall with recall. “
From an evaluation standpoint, what did you feel were the strengths and weaknesses of
the offense and defense?
“Offensively, I thought we ran the ball better as the spring went along. We got more comfortable with our personnel. We started to use some 'big' personnel with tight ends and full backs and figuring out what they do best and how we can utilize them best in the offense to become more diverse.
“Defensively, we felt like our guys did a good job of communicating and learning our system. And, learning how to adjust our system to what the offense is trying to do. I felt like some of our young linebackers had good springs by moving them around from inside to outside and vice versa and just finding the right spots for them. Defensive-end wise, was our guys understood what we’re trying to become at that position and that was good to see.”
You’re going into fall knowing there are going to be a good number of new players, including transfers and recruits. What is your expectation for them coming in as far as position battles go?
“We wanted to add new players to our squad to create competition within the team. I think we will have a lot more competition in the fall than we had in the spring and that is going to help our team. We needed to add depth at the cornerback position and in the secondary as a whole. On the offensive line, we needed to add some numbers and depth to create competition there and even at running back.
"We had a huge loss at the wide receiver position in terms of number of catches, so we brought in all these new guys to create an atmosphere that all jobs are open. Obviously, we have some front runners, some guys that maybe stood out a little bit more in the spring, who learned our stuff at a quicker pace and performed better, but our team is going to look a lot different in the fall and it needs to look a lot diff erent. We were thin in a lot of areas during the spring.”
What was your assessment of the team’s mood after going through a spring with the new
coaching staff ?
“I believe our guys know how we want to go about practicing and preparing for practice.
We want to be a blue-collar team. That is what we want to be. We want to be a hard-working
team. I think we can really recruit to that work ethic up here in the Midwest. I always felt that
way when we were up here before. We may not always be the most talented team in the Big
Sky, but we can certainly control the amount of effort we put forth when we practice, when
we train and those things need to transpire to the game field.”
In your mind, what’s the biggest difference preparation wise going into the fall as opposed
to what you did in the spring?
“There has to be more of a sense of urgency. You approach things differently and have to find
the right balance in preparing our team physically and having them ready and fresh for the
first game. That’s what you do in the first month. We have a long camp. There will be some
guys that have been with us some this summer and guys that are just coming in, so there has
to be a difference in how we condition and prepare guys for the season. We get one week
before our opener to have guys ready to go and play San Jose State, so it’s just a different
mindset when you are getting ready to play games.”
Monday, July 14
Big Sky Commissioner Doug Fullerton addressed the coaches, players, administrators and media members this morning and spoke to a lot of different topics. Some items of note were his expectations that all Big Sky members will have instant replay for football by the 2015. He also expects that the league will move to an eight-man officiating crew within in the next two years. Overall, he is extremely pleased with the position of the Big Sky Conference moving forward.
Here is a link to an article from Tom Miller of the Grand Forks Herald on some of those topics.
Senior safety Baylee Carr and the other 12 Big Sky players in attendance met with media members on Monday morning. There were just over a dozen media members in attendance and most came by to speak with the Hazen, N.D. native.
Here's a quick Q&A with the senior safety:
The players are always treated to a nice meal here in Park City at the Grub Steak Restaurant, what option did you go with and how was it meeting the other players here?
"I had the elk serloin, loaded baked potato and cheese steak. It was a great meal and the service was awesome with having so many guys there and how we wanted things cooked. It was really good. It's been fun just to meet the other guys in a different environment unlike the hostile one on the field. It's been nice getting to know them, where they come from and things like that."
Does your mindset change any going into your final season, knowing this is your last one?
"Maybe just a little bit in terms of trying to enjoy it as much as I can. At a certain point, you realize it is not going to last forever. You don't realize that right away at a young age, but I don't want to look at it as a job or anything, but just as a great experience and chapter of your life."
What are you looking forward to the most about this season?
"I think just feeling like we have a fresh start. There is a lot of excitement with the new staff and that feeling is going to be there anytime you have something new. I've been impressed with the new guys that have arrived in town already and their willingness to work and do the extra work on their own. I'm excited to see what we can do during fall camp."
How important will the transition be with so many new players expected to be in fall camp?
"With the new guys that have come in already, I feel like we are meshing really well. It doesn't feel like there are two different groups of old and new players. I think that is important, especially right now because we don't have a lot of time in fall camp. We have to be a team by day one and I feel that says a lot about the new guys we brought and the guys that have been a part of this program."
When you finished up spring ball with the new coaching staff, what stood out the most or impressed you the most about them?
"I felt like there was a clear direction that the team was moving in. I thought the way the new coaches went about teaching the defense and explaining things was different and we learned a lot in that short period of time. When spring ball wrapped up, I felt like there was a high-level of excitement throughout the team and that carried over into the summer."
How has working with safeties coach Marty Rodgers, a guy who is not to far removed from playing in this system, helped with learning the defense?
"He was a great player himself and his knowledge is apparent. He has been great at teaching the techniques and the discipline they want from their safeties. That is one thing, he can relate to us so well because he is a younger guy that was playing just a few years ago."
How was it having your little brother on the roster in the spring?
"It's nice being able to play with your brother, just being family. Not many guys are able to do that. We have actually become closer the year or so just because we are around each other more and part of a team."
How has it been growing up in North Dakota and being able to play at UND?
"It means a lot because I grew up knowing about UND and the in-state universities. It's nice because the people around you know about them too and that helps that they can follow your career and keep up with you."
Next up is the annual golf tournament, you got a little practice in yesterday. What are you expectations for that?
"If I can get my short game going, I think I will be fine. I was able to get it off the box pretty good yesterday, hit some good iron shots, but those greens were hard to figure out. I haven't heard to much smack talk amongts the guys. I'm not sure many of the other guys are big golfers. I know Kasey (Closs) from Portland State likes to play, so there should be some good stories from today."
The morning session went well with several TV and newspaper reporters stopping by to talk to Baylee Carr. Representatives covering Montana, Montana State, Idaho State, NAU along with FCS executive director Craig Haley from The Sports Network all took time to ask questions. ROOT Sports also interviewed all the players for different packages they will use in covering the Big Sky this season.
The afternoon was spent on the golf course. The expectations were not too high, but all three members of the North Dakota travel party held their own. SID Ryan Powell's team finished at -10, which was just outside the top three. Head coach Bubba Schweigert was just off the pace at -8 and saftey Baylee Carr's squad turned in a round of -4. The winning score was 59 (-13).
There was a nice BBQ dinner following the golf tournament and door prizes and golf prizes were handed out as well as the SAAC Cup (shared by Weber State and Southern Utah) and President's Cup (won for the second straight year by Northern Arizona).
The final award was a new award that will be handed out annually at the Big Sky Kickoff event. The award is a distinguished service award and this year's winner was Arnie Scalio, who was a Big Sky media relations director for close to 20 years.
-- UND --