Fall camp officially ended Monday and school at NDSU is in full boat mode today, Tuesday Aug. 22. It’s the longest pre-first game practice in the history of NDSU football thanks to the new NCAA rules banning two-a-day practices although if we think it seems long, the feedback I’m getting back from players is they liked it and it wasn’t this long, drag-out stuff. One player called it having a blast with his teammates.
So what did we learn or not learn from pretty much outside the fences in fall camp?
- Quarterback Easton Stick is said to be more confident and “cleaner in his throws,” according to quarterbacks coach Randy Hedberg. We’ve always known Stick studies the game hard, something he learned from Carson Wentz, but this year he needs to trust his instincts and go with the read that he sees.
- Caleb Butler is a dude. The former walkon has put on 10 pounds and can play anywhere in the defensive line, which is something he did last year. I’m betting he’ll be more effective as a passing-rushing tackle or a all-conference type of player at defensive end. He certainly has the look of diminishing the loss of defensive end Greg Menard.
- Defensive back rotation. It’s probably what we did not learn. Dom Davis was going to be the nickel, or fifth defensive back in passing situations, but he’s strictly a cornerback now. Jaylaan Wimbush may be the nickel guy now. Cornerback Marquise Bridges continued to impress after making the switch from receiver last year, but I get the feeling consistency is his issue. Is sophomore safety James Hendricks that solid already after moving from quarterback last spring? Maybe. The nickel guy will be a huge position to watch on Sept. 9 at Eastern Washington.
- Nobody recruits fullbacks better than NDSU. The Bison find these guys like Garret Malstrom, Zak Kuntz and Brock Robbins who will run through brick walls.
- Nobody quit (as of yesterday). That never happens and retention under Chris Klieman continues to be off the charts.
- Will Quinn Alo play as a walkon redshirt freshman? The kid is a beast on the defensive interior at 6-foot-2 and almost 300 pounds. Remember he came in at over 330 and has re-invented himself in the weight room.
- The O-line question. We keep hearing it’s athletic and pretty good … but until Easton Stick is sitting back there looking for his third receiver, the jury will still be out until proven in prime time.
- Does this team really have depth? I. Don’t. Know. See the last sentence under No. 8.
- Gotta get open. That was a problem with the receivers last year. Klieman said his team is better at that position and somebody needs to have that all-conference breakout year like Warren Holloway and Zach Vraa did in their prime. The “Old Car” Warren and his bad knees always got open and Vraa usually won the one-on-one battles.
- Nate Tanguay and Nick DeLuca. Two reasons this defense should have this team in contention for a deep run in the playoffs.