GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- Bubba Schweigert expected his football team to be a little rusty coming off a two-week break from practice, but all-in-all the third-year head coach was pleased with what he saw during practice No. 5 of the spring.
"It took us a while to get back into the flow of things, but overall, we took care of the ball, our QB-center exchanges were crisp as we got into our inside-run and team periods," Schweigert said. "At first, we caught the ball like we had been off for a couple of weeks, but that got better as the pratice moved along.
"Defensively, our communication needs to get better, taking the week off for Spring Break, I expected a little bit of this, so we'll see how we react to this and come out on Friday for practice No. 6, which is a really important practice for us."
Redshirts making progress
One of the benefits of spring practice is for younger players to get a majority of the reps and that is no different with the UND football team. Several players that were on the scout team in the fall, while they took a redshirt season, are now in line to contribute this fall and a number of them have made a positive impression on Schweigert through five practices.
"I think Mason Bennett has shown some good signs. Donnell Rodgers has shown improvement and the ability to run around out here," Schweigert said. "Offensively, Grant Aplin, who is in his second year, has gotten better at center. He's battling through a little injury here, but has made some nice strides.
"Patric Rooney and Bryce Blair are getting better. Those guys up front are making progress and you can tell because they are getting more reps. We just have to keep plugging away. I think Brad Heidlebaugh is a better player than he was in the fall and that comes from a good winter season. He worked really hard to make his skills better."
Friday's schedule will look a little different with no classes at UND. There will also be a much bigger audience for the session as several high school and college coaches from the around the region will be on the sidelines to check out how a Fighting Hawks' practice is run. This group will be in town Thursday for the program's annual coaches' clinic that will be held all day at the Alerus Center and conclude Friday morning with the pracitce session that begins at 9 a.m.
After knocking off the rust early in the practice, the closing 10 minutes of team work were spirited with both sides of the ball making big plays. Redshirt freshman Torrey Hunt got things started for the defense by intercepting a deep corner route ... Junior running back Oscar Nevermann showed his cut-back abilities with a big gain on an inside-run play ... Sophomore running back John Santiago had a big-gainer on an underneath screen pass that he cut back inside for a nice chunk of yardage ... After having a pass go through his hands on the play before, Stetson Carr regrouped and made a nice shoe-string catch on the sideline that brought him a high-five from Schweigert ... Senior Alex Reed, who has show nice progress throughout the spring, made a nice catch down the seem, hauling in a strike from Brad Heidlebaugh ... Senior Clive Georges drew some oohs and ahs from his offensive teammates for a juke move that sprung him for big yardage on a jet sweep ... Junior Keaton Studsrud managed the offense during the two-minute drill and moved his unit down inside the 35-yard line before the drive stalled on back-to-back sacks on corner blitzes ... Redshirt freshman Chad Bartosh kept the drive going with a toe-tap catch for 18 yards.