Wentz takes over reins at NDSU
FARGO — Brock Jensen had his number called one last time at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome. He was awarded his FCS national title ring from North Dakota State President Dean Bresciani in a pre-Spring Game ceremony.
No. 16 is moving on to perhaps a shot at making an NFL team. No. 11 is still here.
Junior Carson Wentz has taken over the reins at quarterback and Saturday’s annual Green vs. Gold game was a passing of the baton of sorts from Jensen to Wentz.
The review: a mixed bag, he said.
“It was up and down for sure,” Wentz said. “I missed a couple of throws here and there and I wasn’t on the same page with a couple of my receivers. Those are things we need to iron out in the summer.”
He finished 11 of 20 passing for 165 yards, although he wasn’t allowed to get hit that essentially took away the running portion of his game.
“Had he been live, I think he would have made some plays with his legs,” said head coach Chris Klieman.
Overall, Klieman said Wentz had a productive spring practice and although he hasn’t officially been named the Bison starter, all indications are he will start against Iowa State in the season opener Aug. 30.
At 6-foot-6 and 222 pounds, he has the physical skills to be a factor in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The Bison coaches have long said he has the mental acuity to make it at the FCS level.
After being Jensen’s understudy for the last two years, and having been in the program for three years, he said he’s ready to take the next depth chart leap.
“It was a lot of fun to lead these guys and be with the 1s for the first time in a game-like situation,” Wentz said. “We had a lot of young guys making plays for the first time in front of these fans.”
Attendance was 4,342, which was about on par with the last few Spring Games. The fans saw young Bison linebackers make several plays.
Sophomore Pierre Gee-Tucker and freshman walk-on Kurt Mattox from Brooklyn Park, Minn., led the defense in tackles with six each. Sophomore MJ Stumpf and freshman Matt Plank had five tackles and sophomore Nick DeLuca four stops.
“I was impressed with our young linebackers,” Klieman said. “All of those guys progressing gives us so much depth.
The defense gave Wentz fits on the down that normally counts the most. He was just 2 of 6 on third down, although the big conversion was a 59-touchdown pass to tight end Jeff Illies on fourth-and-2.
It was the last play of the game and gave the Gold team (the offense) a 29-22 win in a modified points system.
Wentz also threw one interception, a high throw over the middle right into the arms of safety Chris Board.
Seven starters did not play because of injury while several others either sat out or saw limited action. Klieman said the only apparent injury was a possible broken hand to linebacker Bo Liekhus.
The Bison led FCS in scoring defense last year and touchdowns were hard to come by in the scrimmage. Running back Melvin DeSouza had the other offensive score with a one-yard run.
Running back Darius Anderson led the ground game with 89 yards on 14 carries.