Grand Forks, N.D. - The theme for spring practices and even during winter workouts for this North Dakota football team has been "Day by Day". Offensive line coach Luke Knauf spoke to it after Friday's practice with UNDSports.com and new defensive line coach Jordan Gigli has his unit thinking the same way.
"We are going day-by-day here and I think each day we are getting better," Gigli said. "I think our pursuit, No. 1, is improving. We are finally reacting instead of thinking about running to the ball. I think that is big a part of playing football and what we want to be defensively."
UND wrapped up its fifth practice and third straight full-padded session on Saturday morning, which was a make up from the one the team missed on Monday due to Blizzard Gigi. Gigli's defensive line is the featured group for today's practice report and the former Minnesota and Sacramento State assistant coach has been pleased with the effort his group is putting forth.
"I see these guys before meetings and after meetings trying to learn what we are teaching them. I see them quizzing each other, I see flash cards, I see different methods ... That is the want to and you can work with that as a coach," he said.
Gigli has seven defensive ends and two nose guards in spring drills and early on it has been about stressing the fundamentals and the former Minnesota and Sacramento State assistant coach has seen his unit start to execute the new schemes better and better with each practice.
"We are running to the ball and playing through the right tempo. We're staying off the quarterback. Those are the little things you do right and build off of," Gigli added.
Here is a look at the defensive linemen participating in spring drills:
34 Nick Schmitz (RFr., 6-4, 230)
91 Spencer Cummings (Sr., 6-4, 280)
93 Alec Carrothers (So., 6-2, 245)
94 Mat Cox (RFr., 6-5, 250)
95 Jake McElroy (So., 6-3, 250)
96 Berto Espinoza (Sr., 6-2, 260)
97 Kyle Woodsmall (So., 6-4, 261)
- Head coach Bubba Schweigert said the energy was up-and-down during the 20-period session on Saturday. Offensively, he wants the energy to start in the huddle and carry out from there.
- The offense had a shaky day on Friday, but showed noticeable signs of improvement during session No. 5. Sophomore quarterback Ryan Bartels hit a wide open Zack Selland on a deep ball during 11-on-11 work. That play brought the loudest cheer of the day out of the offense.
- The two sides went toe-to-toe in skelly drills again with the offense being put in 3rd-and-5 situations. The offense converted a first down six times, while being stopped once when Schweigert declared that score was being kept.
- Former (that's weird to type) wide receiver Greg Hardin was out at the practice observing from the sidelines. The Bellevue, Neb., native is continuing to work hard with the NFL Draft now less than a month away.
- Hardin mentioned that he had a great experience playing in the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl in early January and has talked with at least 15 NFL teams. Hardin also opened some eyes at the NDSU Pro Day held in mid-March.
- The team will take Sunday off and return to the field on Monday with the best weather of the spring anticipated for next week.