It was another stifling-hot practice this morning on the Bison football fields south of the Sanford Health Athletic Complex. Make that at least five in a row the temperatures could be a factor for football players working hard in football pads. Jim Kramer, NDSU’s head strength and conditioning coach, said the sense in fall camp is it’s the hottest stretch since 2013. So to address the heat, the conditioning staff is reverting to a method that was made popular in the ’13 Kansas State game: salt. The 24-21 win over K-State was played in 100-plus degree temperatures, with the Bison using salt as part of the hydrating process in the few days before the game. By the fourth quarter, Wildcat players were cramping while the Bison were freshly marching 80 yards in 18 plays that took almost nine minutes off the clock.
Late last week, it took a day or so for the Bison players to fully figure that out.
“There’s always that first-day wake-up call when guys realize how much they have to hydrate prior to coming in,” Kramer said. “So on the second day we had some cramping issues, but by the third and fourth day it was fine and we haven’t had a single one since. We have to figure out how to get that wake-up call to them earlier.”
In times like these, the staff puts more salty foods on the menu in the dining hall and have salt solutions more readily available for players who tend to cramp more.
“We usually have saltier snacks available every year but this is a longer stretch of heat we’ve had,” Kramer said.
Following Monday’s practice, Bison defense back Jalen Allison was handed a cherry drink that all players were required to down as they left for the locker room.
“The cherry juice was good, then they put beet juice in it so I don’t know about that,” Allison said. “I chug it down. Kramer is on top of it all the time.”