Reaping the benefits: North Dakota State players credit strength, conditioning coach Kramer for team’s success
FARGO — If Santa Claus stopped by the Fargodome overnight, he better have brought an extra helping of presents. Like enough for a football team.
North Dakota State returned to practice on Christmas to prepare for the Jan. 4 Division I FCS national title game against Towson University (Md.). Why on a holiday?
Because that’s the way the timing worked out. NDSU played New Hampshire in the FCS semifinals on Friday and the maximum time off that strength and conditioning coach Jim Kramer is comfortable with is four days, maybe five.
“After that, you start losing some things,” he said.
One thing NDSU isn’t losing is Kramer, who is staying with new head coach Chris Klieman when he takes over after next Saturday’s game in Frisco, Texas. It’s hard to find a Bison player who doesn’t credit the offseason conditioning as a reason for the team’s success.
“Maybe you should ask them after the first day of winter workouts,” Kramer said. “Are you sure about that now?”
The bonus in Kramer returning is that aspect of the program will remain the same. Otherwise, NDSU would either have had to shift another strength coach to football or hire somebody immediately.
Like the last two years, the Bison won’t have much time off from the conclusion of the season before winter workouts begin. The positive, Kramer said, is the way the school calendar falls next semester. NDSU players won’t have to return to school for another week after the title game.
“That will be good for the guys, they’ll need a week away from everything,” Kramer said. “That’s a week they can get out of here and come back even more refreshed than they have before.”
Those getting that week off include the redshirt freshmen players, who have remained in Fargo over the holidays and will accompany the team to Texas. The playoffs afford the coaching staff an opportunity to continue to work with them in the weight room.
They’re even scheduled to go to a local Frisco weight room for a workout session.
“That’s to let them know they’re an important part of this program because next year that could be you on that field,” Kramer said.
Kramer said the regular players are scheduled for two lifting sessions, including one today. It’s a different mindset than the last two years, when there was three weeks between the semifinals and title game.
“With two weeks, the hay is in the barn so to speak,” he said.
And one week after Frisco, the hay will start getting a weekly workout. The biggest hole NDSU will have to replace is in the interior defensive line, where freshmen like Nate Tanguay, Nick Jacobsen, Grant Morgan and Bryce Messner are redshirting. Freshman Austin Farnlof, a 2012 recruit, is sitting out rehabbing a knee injury.
“They’re as big as we have now size-wise,” Kramer said. “There’s more strength and playing ability to gain, but it’s a good group there.”