Grand Forks, N.D. - With four practices in the books, there has been a noticeable emphasis put on the running game and for new offensive line coach Luke Knauf, that philosophy is right up his alley. The former Wisconsin offensive lineman wants his unit to have a tough, physical mentality and he says that starts with running the football.
The emphasis on that type of mentality was evident during the final period before the closing 10 minutes of 11-on-11 work in Friday's fourth spring practice when Knauf had his unit doing bear crawls, while the special teams worked on punt coverage drills.
The idea behind that was to see how they responded to be tired in those final 10 minutes. "Those final 10 minutes were about toughness," Knauf said. "I want to see who can battle through some adversity, be physical and still think on their feet when they are tired."
This approach is not relegated to just the offensive line as all the assistant coaches have been imploring their units to "finish" throughout spring ball.
Knauf, senior Ben Henson and junior Brandon Anderson all took time to talk to UNDSports.com following today's practice to give an update on spring drills and how the transition has been with a new scheme and new coaches in place.
Check out the video in what is the first of a position series feature that we will run daily with these practice reports.
Here is a look at the nine offensive linemen participating in spring drills:
76 Dan Bell (RFr., 6-5, 275)
- In what was the second full-padded practice of the spring, there was more contact during the session, but still no "live" 11-on-11 work. The linebackers and running backs worked together in a group and the wide receivers and defensive backs worked togehter in on one-on tackling drills.
- Defensive back Chris Brown picked off a pass during 11-on-11 work.
- Junior Javen Butler has moved from safety to outside linebacker in defensive coordinator Eric Schmidt's 3-4 scheme. Schmidt also confirmed that Brian Labat has moved from inside linebacker to outside linebacker and Taj Rich has made the opposite move from outside to inside.
- Senior wide receiver Tyrhe Ivery, who has made the move back to that position this spring, made a couple of nice catches during practice No. 4. Ivery made a nice scoop during skelly drills that was ruled a catch by head coach Bubba Schweigert and also made a tough catch over the middle where he collided with safety Devin Coyle, but managed to hang on to the ball.
- Schweigert emphasized after practice that he wants two things out of his players at all times. One is that they give great effort and two is that they are continually getting better.
- Right before the final team drills of the session, the special teams worked on punt coverage. There was a lot of conditioning in the drill, which served a purpose during the final 10 minutes of 11-on-11 work as the coaches wanted to see how the players reacted to being tired and put in adverse situations.