Bubba Schweigert.Grand Forks, N.D. - It was an adaptation day for the most part on Friday at Memorial Stadium as the North Dakota football team opened up spring practice under the new watch of first-year head coach
Sixty-six players participated in the practice that last just over 90 minutes during a sun-drenched afternoon in Grand Forks. The nine assistant coaches that comprise Schweigert's staff appeared to make a seamless transition to the practice field as the players responded well to the new voices of instruction.
"It was just good to get out here so the guys could get into a routine with new coaches," Schweigert said. "A lot of these guys have not worked with any of these coaches before and the coaches that were retained are coaching new positions, so it was good to get out here and get in a bit of a routine. Now, it's got to be better tomorrow."
Donning just shoulder pads and helmets, the team spent a majority of the first practice working on individual drills with those new coaches before concluding the session with 15 minutes of live work.
"What I want to see is an energy level and an enthusiasm out here with each individual trying to focus on his job and fit into a team concept," Schweigert said of what he wants to see in these first few practices. "That is what we are looking to do. Each day get a little bit better and make progress and by the end of the spring you hope you have made a lot progress. That is what we are looking for one day at a time right now."
The opening practice was also the first chance for the players to take what they have learned about the new offensive and defensive schemes to the field. There was whooping and hollering on both sides of the ball as the coaches kept the tempo at a high pace throughout all the drills. As with any first practice of the spring, the session was not mistake free, but the new coaches kept the energy high and there was plenty of whooping and hollering on both sides of the ball.
A pair of seniors - safety Baylee Carr and wide receiver R.J. McGill - spoke to UNDSports.com about the opening practice, so make sure to check out that video, which will be posted later to this story.
- Seniors Ben Henson and Shea Walker continued to battle against one another, but were doing so on opposite sides of the ball than the previous three seasons. Henson was working at center, while Walker was lined up at nose guard.
- Offensively, the tight ends were targeted a fair amount in offensive coordinator Paul Rudolph's system. UND did not have a tight end make a catch duringn the 2013 season.
- Defensive coordinator Eric Schmidt returned to the Memorial Stadium field for the first time since his initial stint as a UND coach on Dale Lennon's staff from 2006-07.
- Senior Adam Shaugabay worked on both sides of the ball, getting some reps at both running back and linebacker.
- Senior Tyrhe Ivery was back working at wide receiver after making the switch to defensive back midway through his sophomore season (2012). With its top three receivers from last season departed from the program, Ivery and McGill are the veterans of that group. Ivery has 16 career catches for 142 yards, while McGill is coming off redshirt season (injury).
- The Grand Forks Herald had two staff writers and a photographer at the opening practice of the Schweigert era. WDAZ and Fox Fargo also had reporters on hand. Coach Schweigert along with Carr, McGill and quarterbacks Ryan Bartels and Joe Mollberg all took turns in front of the cameras.
- Redshirt freshman defensive lineman Garrett Cary (Walworth, Wis.), who was injured all of the last season, has opted to leave the program. Sophomore running back Kodee Varner also decided to leave the program just before the start of spring practices.
#DayByDay - Spring Football Practice Report No. 1