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Kolpack: At this rate, Goeser and Kramer will need to grow more fingers

Bison assistant coach, strength coach part of a ninth national championship.

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North Dakota State's fans display a ninth title sign during the FCS title game at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022.
David Samson/ The Forum
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Frisco, Texas

The biggest question was not how North Dakota State beat Montana State on Saturday. Easy answer: power.

Sheer power.

The mystery now is at this rate, Jim Kramer and Nick Goeser will either have to grow more fingers or start putting rings on the back shelf. The NDSU strength and conditioning coach and assistant coach, along with university president Dean Bresciani, have come to Frisco nine times.

They left victorious every time.

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North Dakota State's Hunter Luepke smashes his way over Montana State's Jeffrey Manning for a first-quarter touchdown during the FCS title game at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022.
David Samson/ The Forum

With Bresciani leaving his post this academic year, it will leave Kramer and Goeser as the only remaining charter club members to Title Town. The 38-10 win over Montana State at a misty and cloudy Toyota Stadium was vintage Bison.

Maybe it is rocket science.

“I think we have a good recipe,” Goeser said. “We recruit the right type of kids, develop the right type of kids and I think they believe in our systems and what we do. No matter the coaching changes, we have a system and the kids understand it. They believe in it. They know the routine and they know what it’s all about and they come ready to play.”

Emphasize that "come ready to play" stuff. NDSU has shown an uncanny ability to be ready to play in early January. Make it nine-for-nine now that the Bison looked like they had the perfect recipe over the three-week break between the semifinals and the championship.

For the ninth time in 11 years, they looked like the stronger team. The fresher team. Certainly players can be run down in their 15th game and, this year, it was the 25th game in almost a calendar year.

It didn’t look like it.

“The amount of work we put in and the amount of depth we have and I think coach Kramer, as it’s been said many times, is the best in the business,” said Bison linebacker Jackson Hankey. “He does a fantastic job getting us ready to play a season. And we have great coaches who created a lot of depth.”

Depth certainly factors into the equation during the season, giving players time during the three-week gap to not have to heal as much.

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North Dakota State's Kobe Johnson breaks free for a 76-yard touchdown against Montana State during the FCS title game at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022.
David Samson/ The Forum

“You have three weeks and we prepare for this,” said offensive coordinator Tyler Roehl. “We use our depth. I think we have games where we understand we can use our guys and have games where we can use our depth and get guys reps. You don’t have to hand a guy the ball 35 times. We have the best strength coach in the nation, hats off to him.”

The game’s most valuable player went to running back/fullback/tight end Hunter Luepke, but it could have been anybody on the offensive line. At times in the first half, it felt like NDSU vs. Valparaiso rather than a national title game against a team that came in with a boatload of momentum.

It was a mismatch of power, and at 28-0 at halftime, with its starting quarterback out of the game with an ankle injury, the Bobcats looked cooked. NDSU went to 6-3, 245-pound backup quarterback Quincy Patterson earlier than usual and the plan worked.

He was the team’s leading rusher in the first two quarters with 87 yards. Kobe Johnson had one carry, but that worked for a 76-yard touchdown run.

The 6-1, 236-pound Luepke had 64 yards by halftime.

“We felt like we had an advantage at the line of scrimmage,” Roehl said. “Our goal is always to be the best at the line of scrimmage and be masters at moving the line of scrimmage. Our personnel up front, our guys wanted this bad. I think through the course of the season, we just continued to get better, get better, get better. Our guys cut it loose really fast.”

It didn’t look to be the best of signs when on NDSU’s first play of the game, quarterback Cam Miller overthrew a wide-open Luepke. Still, the Bison scored touchdowns on their first three drives.

Miller threw a strike to Christian Watson on third-and-14 after missing Luepke. He scrambled for 14 yards on third-and-8. After that, running backs found holes and Miller was rarely pressured when he did pass.

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Power. Sheer power.

About those nine rings.

Goeser came to NDSU in 2010 from Minnesota Duluth, where he was part of the coaching staff that went 15-0 and won the 2008 Division II national championship. Counting that title, his hands are maxed out at 10 rings.

“Hard to believe,” he said. “And it’s amazing how fast the time has gone, but it’s hard to leave a good place. My family loves it here, I love it here and there’s nothing better than Bison nation.”

Hard to believe, but the Bison return most of their players next season. This train doesn't appear to be slowing down. If Goeser and Kramer win another ring, they'll have storage problems.

Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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