Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at www.bisonmedia.areavoices.com. On the radio, Kolpack & Izzo sports talk show runs from 9-11 a.m. every Saturday morning. April through August, the WDAY Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack runs from 8-9 a.m.
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FARGO—It's probably a given that North Dakota State senior linebacker Pierre Gee-Tucker will at least get a shot at playing professional football. He's going to hire an agent after the season and begin a quest that several of his teammates have done in recent years. But, Gee-Tucker said, the priority this week is on his team—not his future—in regards to a knee injury he suffered in the last regular season game against the University of South Dakota. Would it be prudent for him to "lay it all on the line" even if it meant possibly damaging an NFL shot?
FARGO — Somewhere between the time the kickoff coverage unit for North Dakota State's football team walks onto the field until Cam Pedersen kicks off, some sort of switch in the soul of Chris Board flips on. It's go time. For Board, there is no such thing as a gradual revving of his motor. He goes from zero to full speed in a matter of a few yards and there is no letting up. "You have to have a kamikaze-type attitude running down there," Board said. "You have to have a couple screws loose when you're running but I definitely enjoy it."
FARGO — The University of San Diego will be the 24th FCS playoff game for North Dakota State, a list of matchups that comprises 18 different teams. In a sense, the Toreros may be the most mysterious of them all.
FARGO—It's been more than a month now since North Dakota State University football fans have been able to shout the first name of running back Bruce Anderson. You don't have to remind the Bison sophomore of that, either. There is no quick remedy for a high ankle sprain, with the healing process so seemingly slow that it seems like getting back in the lineup is years away, not weeks. "I think it's just tough mentally, especially when you're a 19-year-old kid who just wants to play football," Anderson said.
FARGO—In a season where injuries have mostly resulted in dark results, North Dakota State University may have finally found a glimmer of light on Monday, Nov. 21. The knee injury to standout linebacker Pierre Gee-Tucker may not sideline him for the season. NDSU head coach Chris Klieman said Gee-Tucker suffered a sprained knee ligament, in this case to his MCL. He said there was minimal "structural damage" and said his availability is on a week-to-week status. "So that's good," Klieman said.
VERMILLION, S.D. — If he wasn't wearing a No. 44 jersey, you would have sworn Matt Plank was having a bad arthritis day the way he was walking in his North Dakota State football uniform. Blood on the knee, the result of a gash from getting spiked so deep a physician had to clean it out twice. Saturday's 28-21 win over the University of South Dakota was over for about a half hour and Plank needed more than a locker room to rejuvenate. How about a week off?
FARGO — North Dakota State University moved into the top spot in the FCS Playoff Committee rankings earlier this week heading into the last regular season game. The Bison are also tops in another, less official, category: Most domed stadiums played. NDSU plays at the University of South Dakota today, which will be its eighth indoor game this season. The Bison haven't played outdoors since an Oct. 22 trip to Western Illinois University.
FARGO — It's been a season of close football games for North Dakota State, with seven of them not being decided until late in the fourth quarter. That includes a couple of overtime games. The Bison, however, have nothing on the University of South Dakota in that department. Eight of the Coyotes' last nine games have gone to the final minute and that includes three that went to double overtime. You can coach a lot of years and not have more than one overtime game in a season, much less three that go two extra periods.
FARGO — When defensive tackle Blake Williams first got to North Dakota State, he weighed 235 pounds. "You're not going to play in the Valley at that weight," he said. After his true freshman season, he came in for his second year weighing 260. "You're not going to play in the Valley at that weight either," Williams said. Add to that issues with his knee such as a torn meniscus and just getting into position to get on the field was a chore for the once highly recruited Williams. He appeared in one game in 2015.
FARGO—At 6-foot-3-inches tall and bigger than almost everybody else on a North Dakota 9-man football field, there was no mistaking the go-to player for Wyndmere-Lidgerwood. That all changed for Jeff Illies the first day he walked into a North Dakota State locker room full of Bison football players. He looked around and it didn't take long to notice he wasn't in Wyndmere or Lidgerwood anymore. "It was definitely a reality shock seeing that everyone was bigger than me," Illies said. "It was like the first day of high school all over again."