After six practices, it’s becoming obvious the Bison will go with a three-man backfield rotation for the remainder of spring practice and most likely into fall camp. The emergence of freshman Lance Dunn (story in Thursday’s Forum) is the biggest reason for the committee approach to tailback. On that note, it appears there won’t be the John Crockett, one-tailback look to the offense, either.
NDSU is making an emphasis to be multiple in that Chase Morlock has been playing tailback, fullback and some receiver. Not sure there’s more a tailback can do than that but Morlock saw a bit of the tailback-fullback dual role last season. He was the fullback on NDSU’s game-winning driving in the FCS title game against Illinois State. Dunn is the fastest of the three so his role besides special teams next year will probably be that changeup look to a defense from Morlock and Frazier, who are a little more physical. Dunn wasn’t in the best of shape when he came in as a 195-pound true freshman, but is up to 205 now and has embraced the offseason conditioning tutelage of strength and conditioning coach Jim Kramer.
“We’re not looking at it from a standpoint of who is 1, 2 and 3,” offensive coordinator Tim Polasek said of the running back depth chart. “I think it’s going to a unique, fun year.”
Head coach Chris Klieman said there are the usual assortment of minor injuries, especially on the offense and defensive lines that have cut into depth, but nothing significant that will keep a player out more than a week. NDSU has its first intrasquad scrimmage on Saturday, so Klieman said any depth chart changes or position changes will wait until after that. Of the redshirt freshmen, offensive linemen Luke Bacon and Colin Conner have worked some reps with the No. 1 offense and Klieman likes the progress of outside linebackers Dan Marlette and Levi Jordheim and receivers Khayvon Hawkins and Darrius Shepherd as well as Dunn at running back. “But we need to see them in live action,” Klieman said.