#DayByDay Fall Camp Notebook: No. 11
This and That
Head coach Bubba Schweigert and his coaching staff started the 13th practice of fall camp a litlle different than the previous ones.
"We wanted to our first period today to be a little more competitive than usual," the first-year head coach said. "We wanted to look at some guys in game-like situations. See who wants to be a good teammate."
So with the entire team watching, members of the offense went up against members of the defense in one-on-one situations.
"We put offense on one side and defense on one side. We want to see them rooting for their guy, get some enthusiasm and excitement to start the day," Schweigert added. "I thought the guys liked it. I thought we competed pretty well. You couldn't have written a better script."
The defense moved ahead early, but the offense was able to tie the competition at 4-4 setting the stage for the two freshmen from Michigan to go one-on-one to give one side the victory.
Wide receiver Brandon Walker was able to catch the pass and beat his fellow Great Lakes State teammate Chris Carter and give the offense the victory. Both players have turned heads early in camp and are strong candidates to not be redshirted this season.
"We wanted to see how those two would respond with a little pressure on them," Schweigert said. "They knew each other from before, so it was a good little matchup. We put them down there where it is all scoring plays and you want to have consequences.
"You want to see how guys react and it's a good to chance to evaluate body language too. They'll get more opportunities to do these types of things again, but it was a good way for us to start practice."
Special Teams Taking Shape
First-year special teams coordiantor Shawn Kostich has been working hard to align his units with the proper players and he has been given ample time from Coach Schweigert in practice to get a proper guage on who will be contributors.
One of the more intriguing camp battles has been at both the kick returner and punt return spot. With the graduation of Greg Hardin - the only player with three kickoff return touchdowns in UND history - and the departure of Kenny Golladay, who had a 64-yard punt return for a score last season, both jobs are open.
Kostich identified five players that he has been working at both the kickoff return and punt return positions and, so far, he has been pleased with what he has seen.
"As for kickoff return, Alex Tillman has been a pleasant surprise. He may be somebody that gets in the mix there. Aeron Carr has also been in-and-out of there as well," Kostich said. "We also have a couple of freshmen - Dev Ferguson and Brandon Walker - that have looked good and Maverick Edmunds might also get in the mix. All of those guys have been performing well.
"And, those same five guys are working at punt returner too. That's a trust position and has to be a good decision maker. You want somebody who knows when to field it, when to fair catch it and when to get his teammates out of the way. I think we have a good pool to choose from, but we just need to find a good decision maker. It's getting narrowed down and we'll have to make a decision in the next week."
Coach Schweigert said early in the spring that special teams would be a great evaluator for how tough and how hard a player wants to work and that has carried over into the fall.
"Some guys, maybe he's a freshman, may not be able to handle offense or defense, but he can find a home on special teams just purely because he gives great effort and does what you ask him to do," Kostich said. "We want guys to have stamped their rep when they leave the practice field - put their name on what they just did.
"When we put the film on, do we say look how hard this person played on this play or is it someone who did not give it their all on a play. We have to sort through those players and I think those guys are starting to stand out."
Two Weeks From Takeoff
Two weeks from today, the North Dakota football players and staff will be boarding a plane for San Jose, Calif. The 2014 roster has seven native Californians on it, including linebacker Javen Butler, who grew up just an hour north of San Jose in Pittsburg. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN3.com and kicks off on Thursday, Aug. 28 at 9 p.m. CT.
Check out UNDFootball on Instagram or follow @UNDFootball on Twitter to see a few pictures from the practices.
-- UND --