A healthy NDSU ready for start to regular season
FARGO — Classes start this week for the North Dakota State students, although 90 of them have been going at it on campus since Aug. 3 when the football team reported for practice. After three weeks of competing against each other, Monday signified the start of something refreshing: game week. The Bison are preparing for the season opener this Saturday at Iowa State.
It appeared to be business as usual for the Bison all month with very little drama. A few players missed a couple of days because of injuries, but barring anything new this week, the Bison will head to Ames, Iowa, with a healthy team.
“That’s been really good, we’re excited about that,” said head coach Chris Klieman.
Running back Chase Morlock, who had surgery to deal with a meniscus problem in his knee, returned to practice Monday. Also returning after being out for a short time were linebacker Travis Beck and defensive end Kyle Emanuel.
“Everybody that started fall camp will be available Saturday,” Klieman said.
A few more details for the Saturday lineup were revealed Monday. Safety Christian Dudzik will most likely be the top punt returner. Dudzik averaged 10.8 yards on 22 returns, scoring two touchdowns with a long of 68 yards last season.
Freshman Tyler Wrice has also been working as a punt returner and may get a shot against ISU.
“We’d like to try and alleviate some things on Christian’s plate,” Klieman said.
Klieman said Dudzik is still getting a look as a receiver “a little bit here and there.”
Freshman cornerback Trey Dempsey will be the first on the field when NDSU goes to a five-defensive back package. Senior cornerback Zach Colvin is also expected to play a contributing role behind starting cornerbacks C.J. Smith and Jordan Champion.
Junior Jeremy Kelly will start at right guard, overtaking sophomore Jack Plankers, although Plankers is listed as the top backup at both right guard and right tackle. Sophomore Carey Woods was listed as a starting receiver for the first time in his career.
“Some younger guys who we had questions on leading into fall camp have really progressed well,” Klieman said. “We’ll find out next Saturday on how they’ve really progressed.”
Klieman said no decision was made on a backup quarterback to Carson Wentz. Sophomore Derek McGinnis and freshman Cole Davis have been battling since spring football and a decision may not be made until Thursday.