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: 15 Days
2013 Media Day Booklet (contains roster, depth chart, bios, 2012 stats)
The North Dakota football team is nearing the halfway point of fall camp both in number of days and practice sessions and after Wednesday's two-hour practice, head coach Chris Mussman warned his team that the upcoming stretch is going to be the toughest of fall camp.
"I like where we are at, but these next handful of practices are going to be the toughest for us," Mussman said. "The guys are starting to get some nicks and bruises and we're giving them a lot mentally, so it's important for us to stay sharp and keep the energy high this next week as we start to game plan for opponents."
Wednesday's session might have been the loudest of fall camp as the sounds of pads popping and coaches yelling were joined by a heavy work day on the "Old Ralph" next to Memorial Stadium. At one point, a large section of the roof collapsed in the northwest corner of the building and that drew some whoops and hollers from the players and actually added a little energy to the session (check out a quick Instagram video here).
Day-by-day the coaches are adding new elements of game action to the practices and today it was work on the two-minute drill. Also, the two-period "live" session at the end featured the offense being able to drive the football instead of focusing on different yardage situations.
- Redshirt freshman Ryan Bartels took the first-team snaps during the live drills and led the team to a trio of first downs before Mussman ended the drive. Sophomore P.J. Sparks was the primary ball carrier and rushed for a couple of first downs before Bartels hit classmate Casey Young on a 15-yard completion to cap the drive on a 3rd-and-13.
- Redshirt freshman Jake Hanson took the next snaps with the reserve offense. True freshman Patrick Sharp picked up a couple of first downs on the ground before Hanson was picked off by Maverick Edmunds, who made a nifty return of about 30 yards before he was tackled by the offense.
- A majority of the first-team skill position players did not participate in the "live" periods. Sophomore Jameer Jackson turned a short pass into a big gain as he bowled his way to a first down in the second series.
- Both true freshman quarterbacks Sam Riddle and Kurt Palandech showed the ability to keep plays alive with their feet, but each had passes dropped after finding open receivers for what would have been first-down yardage.
- Hanson, Riddle and Palandech were donning white jerseys, which made them acceptable to contact during the "live" session. Palandech was the only one of the three to absorb a hit as he turned a designed run into positive yardage.
What's on tap for Thursday
After another full pad practice that featured a limited live session on Wednesday, the team will return to Memorial Stadium for another two-a-day on Thursday.
Student-Athlete Spotlight: No. 46 Dominique Bennett
Senior Dominique Bennett is hungry. He wants to get the bad taste that was left in his mouth from his team's first go-around in the Big Sky out of his mouth.
Bennett still has about two more weeks to wait until he can officially do that by taking his frustrations out on a different opponent, but in the meantime he's working on making himself and the defense better during fall camp.
And, being a fifth-year senior, he knows the next couple of weeks are going to be the toughest. "We're into the dog days. We're getting into one of the toughest stretches of fall camp," Bennett said. "It's more getting through the mental part of it. Everybody is getting sore now, so it's more of a mental thing."
With this being his last season here at UND, Bennett also feels the responsibility to be more of leader.
"I'm being more vocal now, but a lot of guys know I'm not the most talkative guy," he said. "But, the way I want them to play, I have to play, so I'm doing it with my actions. I'm playing hard, so if they see me playing hard, hopefully they will follow in line and play hard as well."
Bennett had a decent junior season when he led UND in sacks with 4.5, but he wants to improve those numbers, which will hopefully improve the most important number to him and that is the win total.
"I just want the defense to play a different brand of defense this season," he added. "We didn't play that well last season. It left a bad taste in my mouth and I want things to be different this season."
For Bennett to even be playing college football is an interesting story along his journey. He grew up playing and excelling in basketball in DeSoto, Texas, which is just on the outskirts of Dalls. For a while, he appeared destined to be college career playing on the hardwood and not the gridiron, but despite interest from programs like Texas Tech and California, Bennett opted for the sport he played only one season of in high school.
"As far as basketball, I had a couple of schools looking at me, but I really wanted to play football in college," Bennett said. "I had an offer from Texas Tech, a partial from Cal, but it wasn't a tough decision. I had kind of fell out of love with it.
"I was kind of teetering in between to even play my senior year and the only reason I did play was because my mother wouldn't let me quit. I ended up playing my senior year and it ended up well with us winning state."
Bennett's team not only won the Class 4A state title, but he was the Tournament MVP and earned all-district honors.
But, he also earned all-district honors in football and had enough respect from his peers to be named team captain. Bennett instantly excelled at the sport and knew that playing college football was what he wanted to do. He racked up 78 tackles during his senior season at DeSoto and has collected 56 in 31 career games here at UND.
Bennett will look to add to that total and restore a defense that is used to winning because he wants to leave North Dakota with a good taste in his mouth.
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.