GRAND FORKS, N.D. -- It was not a full-padded practice, that will have to wait until Monday, but the addition of shoulder pads to the practice ensemble provided a nice energy boost for the Fighting Hawks during a sun-drenched morning session at Memorial Stadium. Adding pads can also get players a little too excited, but head coach Bubba Schweigert was pleased with how things went with his players donning a few more pads.
"When you add the pads to it, sometimes you lose your focus a little bit, but today our guys, for the most part, kept their focus," Schweigert said. "Our QB-center exchanges were pretty good overall until we got to the younger group. We've got to get that squared away because we want every rep to count.
"Overall, I was pleased with the practice and effort though. Our challenge is to keep that same effort throughout the practice. Sometimes, we have a little dip in the enthusiasm and excitement, so that we need to fix, so we can go an entire practice with that positive energy."
After spending time on the two-minute drill during team sessions throughout the first two practices, the focus shifted more to overall installation and the front lines on both sides of the ball also got to pop some pads during inside-run drills.
"We worked on some inside-run drills for the first time, so the guys up front could really focus on the run game," Schweigert added. "We had a big install day too. I thought overall that we handled it pretty well. There were still some mistakes that we can iron out, but where we are now, guys keep moving even though they are making a mistake and that will help them and help our team."
With five running backs and five quarterbacks in camp, the offense can spread out the repetitions a bit more with skelly drills coinciding with the inside-run portion that features just the offensive and defensive lines and linebackers, so the efficiency of those periods has been crisp.
Tanner Palmborg Q&A
Junior Tanner Palmborg arrived in Grand Forks in the fall of 2015 as a walk-on safety, but throughout the past two seasons he has evolved into a key contributor on the defense and the Princeton, Minn., native anticipates an even bigger role for himself in 2017. He chatted with UNDSports.com after Saturday morning's practice for today's player Q&A.
How's your comfort level at the outside linebacker spot after making the switch from safety? "I feel pretty comfortable right now. It was nice to be able to switch before spring ball. That gave me a chance to learn a lot of the calls and get things locked down. Now, we are teaching a lot of the freshmen and that is helping me out too with my comfort level, just making sure I have everything down."
What's been the biggest adjustment for you moving to outside linebacker? "The biggest adjustment for me has just been learning all the fronts. Our scheme is a lot different if you're playing defensive back. A lot of the pass plays, if you're a safety, then you know what the outside linebacker is doing, but a lot of the run calls, you didn't know their fits, so I had to learn those from scratch. I'm feeling pretty good though."
The defense has to replace four starters at linebacker, how's your mindset been knowing you'll be in the mix for more playing time? "It's really exciting coming from being a walk-on and playing safety, getting my redshirt pulled and everything that's happened. Now, it's nice to know my role and that I'm going to be in the mix to start. It's just really exciting for me."
How's it been learning a new position, but also shifting into a leadership role at the same time as a junior? "Jade Lawrence is kind of the leader of our group right now, but with all the young people, all of us are trying to teach them and be good leaders. I know enough where I can help teach them. I know a lot of the safety calls too, so I can help the defensive backs out some too."
Three days into camp, how's the defense progressing? "The defense is looking good. I'm excited about the young inside linebackers (Noah Larson and Hayden Reynolds). Both of those guys are looking good. Our outside linebackers are working hard. All of us are working hard. For being three days in, getting pads on for the first time, I think as a unit we are looking pretty good."
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