UND Spring Game Takeaways

The UND football team wrapped up spring ball with the annual Spring Game on Friday night at High Performance Center. I covered the event and wrote this up for the Herald, but I figured I’d provide some thoughts on how I saw things.

  • First and foremost, UND needs to stop downplaying the Spring Game and treating it like a glorified practice. If nearly 1,000 fans are going to be in the HPC, you need to take better advantage. It was admittedly pretty boring, and I usually don’t need a lot of bells and whistles to keep my attention. Marketing people need to step up and overrule the football people. Maybe that’s Bill Chaves in Year 2. Do we really need to see half-speed punting drills? Would it have killed anyone to mix in a flea-flicker or even just a couple of deep balls? I’m not saying ramp up the contact, but there are a lot of ways to get people walking out of the HPC thinking UND football is something they want to be around.
  • One nice positive of spring ball was that UND will exit it mainly healthy. A few minor injuries here and there, but UND should have everyone ready to go for fall camp. I haven’t heard any follow-up news, but there could be a little concern with James Johannesson clearly receiving some concussion protocol on the sideline late in the game.
  • No real surprises came out of the spring game as far as concerns. We knew the offensive line would be thin and Nathan Nguon was banged up on Wednesday so didn’t play Friday. Fighting Hawks need that group, specifically the depth, to get better this summer, either through development or recruiting.
  • The other noticeable concern at times was at wide receiver. There’s not enough explosion out there. UND can rely on Travis Toivonen and Noah Wanzek. They need Mikey Greibel or Cam McKinney to step up as a slot option. Those two have had nice springs. Still, this position group could go for a playmaker addition. Maybe Garrett Maag, the signee out of St. Paul, could help there.
  • I didn’t think any of the quarterbacks stood out — good or bad. Hard to say how that race is developing. I don’t think we’re going to learn enough until we see them in true game action. The good news is I don’t think fans have to hold their breath on a QB draw like they did the last few years. All three guys could win Big Sky games.
  • One of the big positives to me was the play of the inside linebackers. Noah Larson and Tryon Vrede made some notable plays. I’m not sure what to think of Vrede. I like his frame and the way he runs, though. That would be a nice boost for a group that will get Donnell Rodgers back in the fall and a defense that already likes what it has seen from Ev Williams, the Minnesota Gophers transfer.
  • Speaking of inside backer, I liked the spring for Jake Geier. He had the spring game’s lone interception but more importantly he’s added some bulk after shifting down from safety and he appears to be playing more confidently. He will probably still struggle to crack the depth chart in 2018 but he’s starting to showcase the upside we heard about on signing day a couple of years ago.
  • Freshman Graham DeVore had the most noticeable day of the tight ends with a couple of grabs for a first down. DeVore might have played last year if it weren’t for a summer injury (story of 2017, I know). He’s an impressive-looking athlete. Those tight end/fullbacks are used a lot and UND, I’d bet, will make sure DeVore can play during a few different looks in 2018.
  • Lastly, the terrible weather most of South Dakota and the Twin Cities area received impacted about six recruits from making the trip to Grand Forks. The high school juniors plan to reschedule, I’m hearing.

I’d like to hear what everyone else thought of the spring game. Hit up the comment section.

6 Responses

  1. Shep

    Absolutely correct about making this into a game…AT THE ALERUS so we get everyone ready for August.
    I liked what I saw from Ott. Looks small, but great speed and strength.
    Gordon looked good too even in the one-on-one when he shoved a much bigger OL to the QB.
    O Line is the key to the season. Jenkins “looks” like what you would make if you made an OL in the lab. Now he needs to perform.

  2. Ice Breaker

    Hard to get a read on the Safety’s and Cornerbacks from yesterday’s scrimmage. Not a lot of passing. I am pleased with the way Tyus Carter is playing this Spring. It looks like Canady has added some weight and newcomer Lenny Nelson is pretty versatile. Galvin and Zimmerman appear to be nice pickups~probably need to add a few pounds on Galvin. Hopefully a healthy Evan Holm and Deion Harris can be ready for the fall

  3. Erik Gunderson

    Our fullbacks seem limited athletically compared to our tight end and running back positions. I am expecting us to get our talent on the field this year, less full back sets please.

  4. Grady E. Kruse

    I just wish they had taller bleachers so we could get a better view. Other than that, no complaints here. The defense is always ahead of the offense this time of year, but there were definitely some bright spots. I think we are going to run the ball a lot this year. We have 3 good RBs and a QB who will still be getting his feet wet. Whoever that is, I think we will be in good hands. They all looked solid.

  5. Rolf Schmitz

    Glad to hear positive things about ILB. I think our deficiency at that position last year was the single biggest reason for the slide. As the season wore on too many teams just lines up and ran the ball right down our throats. If that does not happen this season, good things will come.

  6. Tinfoil Hats

    So if I understand correctly this is a football decision to play in HPC?
    Also, if they play in the Alerus, how far out would they need to book, and how much would rent be and would UND need to charge admission to offset cost of the rent?(The budget at UND Athletics lately has been pretty tight) I went on Friday, cause the weather was crappy, and there wasn’t any reason to be outside. I figured there were about 1,000 fans there. I will be honest, I go to all home games, but a fairly large segment of us I believe aren’t all that interested in spring ball and I’m certainly not going to be there if the weather is great outside. I’m not sure 2 or 3,000 hard core fans at a spring game does much for the end product, but fans like me who have now made the commitment to go to all home games in the fall add more, because I believe there are more periphery fans like me and we offer the numbers to really boost things in the fall. Whether, this spring game is more like a game or held at The Alerus, Hyslop, Ralph, HPC, or Univeristy Park it doesn’t matter. If the weather is nice at this time of year, I plan on being elsewhere. This isn’t a knock on those fans that eat this stuff up, but more of the reality of why I don’t think people should get so worked up on whether or not a “Spring Game” should have all the bells and whistles. In the end it doesnt matter. With that, I can’t wait for the season to start, and I will be there when it does.

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