Each day of fall camp, the staff at UNDSports.com will put together a daily report and feature a student-athlete in its #BrickByBrick countdown. Stay tuned to the official website, Instagram (UNDFootball) and Twitter (@UNDFootball) for all the up-to-date information leading up to the season opener vs. Valparaiso on Aug. 29.
COUNTDOWN TO KICKOFF: 13 Days
2013 Media Day Booklet (contains roster, depth chart, bios, 2012 stats)
The North Dakota football team responded to the challenge set forth by head coach Chris Mussman after a sluggish practice on Friday. He implored his team to come out Saturday morning with a renewed sense of urgency and that is what he saw from his squad in the first of two practices for the day.
"I thought this was one of our better practices," Mussman said. "There was great tempo and energy out there and the guys are doing exactly what we ask of them. It was not perfect and we still have mistakes to correct, but I thought it was a great practice."
With several players nursing various bumps and bruises, there was no "live" session again on Saturday morning, but both sides of the ball did a much better job of showing "scout" looks for the offense and defense during 11-on-11 work.
The final 15 minutes of the morning session was spent working on the no-huddle offense and all five quarterbacks in fall camp took a crack at leading the team in those drills.
By virtue of their sound practice in the morning, the squad was able to participate in the afternoon session without pads to give them some extra rest before returning to the field on Monday morning.
- Senior Jake Hoerchner is showing his versatility throughout fall camp. New o-line coach Mike Cunningham is shuffling him between the right guard and center spots and Hoerchner is also willing to play tight end if he is called upon to do that like he did in several games at the end of the 2012 season.
- Senior Jake Miller is in line to be the starter at running back, but new position coach Joel Schwenzfeier is seeing some stiff competition from the five guys in camp currently behind Miller on the depth chart. Junior Adam Shaugabay has shown the ability to be the hard-nosed runner the coaches are looking for, while classmate Jer Garman has been impressive in open space and using his athletic ability to make guys miss. Garman has also shown a strong ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, which will be needed. Redshirt freshman Kodee Varner got a lot of reps in spring ball with Miller and sophomore P.J. Sparks sidelines with hamstring issues and those have continued this fall. Sparks is healthy as well and that has helped his case for playing time. Sparks is also challenging for playing time in the role senior Mitch Sutton filled last season. Sutton led the team with 11 rushing touchdowns and a majority of those came in short-yardage situations. Newcomer Patrick Sharp has also impressed the coaching staff and is getting extended looks with different units. Sharp is ultra-quick and has not backed down from contact.
- True freshman Cam Kuksa made a nice interception on a play where he appeared to be out of position originally. He used his athleticism to make up for the mistake and close on the ball in time to get a foot down and force the turnover.
- Redshirt freshman Dan Konowalski has been able to attend practices here in the last week and is back working out with the team.
What's on tap for Sunday
The players will take the day off from the practice field, but not from competition. The team will head to a local bowling alley where the annual fall camp bowling tournament will be held.
Student-Athlete Spotlight: No. 7 Will Lewis
Senior safety Will Lewis wanted to try something new. He had just finished a successful junior college career at Los Medanos College in his home state of California, but finding a new experience was one of his top priorities for his next stop.
"I wanted to try something new and get away from the big city and see how it was to live in the midwest," Lewis said of his decision. He is glad that he did.
"I love it out here in North Dakota. It was a big change coming from California to here, but it's been great," he added. "I've created a lot of strong bonds with players on the team."
Lewis played in 10 games a season ago and earned one start at safety, but he wants to have an even bigger impact in 2013. "I'm just looking to have a good season whether I'm coming off the bench or I'm starting I don't care as long as I can make plays and help the team win," Lewis said.
He finished the 2012 campaign with 28 tackles and two interceptions. Both of his interceptions came in a tight contest with Northern Arizona and he closed out the season with his best tackling performance at Northern Colorado when he was credited with seven take downs.
His play really picked up about mid-way through the season and that is when he says he started to feel comfortable in the defense.
"About mid-season, I felt like I could really play with these guys after seeing the competition level," Lewis said. "I felt like I could really make an impact."
His impact started when he fully got a grasp of the play calling on this level. He says that was the biggest change from his JUCO career. "I struggled with that a little bit last season because it's more advanced and complex then it was in junior college," he said. "That was the biggest change along with size and speed. Any time you change levels those things will be a factor."
Lewis has always been on the defensive side of the ball since he started playing football as a young boy and to little surprise, tackling is his favorite part of the game and there is a reason for that.
"I like to hit people. I have a small frame, but I like to hit people that is why I play defense instead of offense," Lewis said. "My mom thought it'd be a good idea for me to play football, so I could get some of my aggression out. Ever since then I've been playing and it's been controlled aggression, so that's why I like it."
Besides hitting on the football field, Lewis is a numbers guy. He changed his from No. 27 to No. 7 this season, but it's the financial world that also intrigues the Pittsburg, Calif. native and that is where he sees a professional career in after football.
"My cousin is starting a clothing line and a couple of my other friends are starting businesses, so I'm going to help them out with the financial side of those things," Lewis said. "I've always enjoyed working with money issues. The world revolves on around it, so it's the best thing I think I could do with it."
Fall Camp Schedule
|Date||Times (Practice #)|
|Sat., Aug. 3||9:15 a.m. (1)|
|Sun, Aug. 4||9:15 a.m. (2)|
|Mon., Aug. 5||9:15 a.m. (3)|
|Tues., Aug. 6||9:15 a.m. (4)|
|Wed., Aug. 7||9:15 a.m. (5)|
|Thur., Aug. 8||9:15 a.m. (6)|
|3:15 p.m. (7)|
|Fri., Aug. 9||9:15 a.m. (8)|
|Sat., Aug. 10||9:15 a.m. (9)|
|3:15 p.m. (10)|
|Mon., Aug. 12||9:15 a.m. (11)|
|Tues., Aug. 13||9:15 a.m. (12)|
|3:15 p.m. (13)|
|Wed., Aug. 14||9:15 a.m. (14)|
|Thurs. Aug. 15||9:15 a.m. (15)|
|3:15 p.m. (16)|
|Fri., Aug. 16||9:15 a.m. (17)|
|Sat., Aug. 17||9:15 a.m. (18)|
|3:15 p.m. (19)|
|Mon., Aug. 19||9:15 a.m. (20)|
|Tues., Aug. 20||9:15 a.m. (21)|
|3:15 p.m. (22)|
|Wed., Aug. 21||9:15 a.m. (23)|
|Thur., Aug. 22||9:15 a.m. (24)*|
|Fri., Aug. 23||9:15 a.m. (25)*|
|Sun., Aug. 25||3:15 p.m. (26)*|
|Mon., Aug. 26||2:30 p.m. (27)*|
|Tues., Aug. 27||3:25 p.m. (28)*|
|Wed., Aug. 28||4 p.m. (29)*|
* All practices will be at Memorial Stadium except Aug. 24-28* (Alerus Center)
Starting at $75 per seat, season tickets for UND’s 2013 football season are now available. The seven-game home schedule is the best of the DI era and features matchups with four preseason top 10 teams: South Dakota State, Montana, Montana State, and Eastern Washington. Fans can save over 50 percent off single-game ticket prices by reserving your season tickets today. Place your orders by visiting UNDsports.com or calling 701-777-4582.