You would have to look long and far to find somebody who watched all four quarters of NDSU’s first two home games. By halftime, the dome started to see an exit toward something else to do on a Saturday afternoon, like pack bars and restaurants within proximity of the Fargodome. It was 49-0 after two quarters against Robert Morris; it was 44-7 against Mississippi Valley at the break. It’s not in the nature of head coach Chris Klieman to keep throwing the playbook at an opponent so everybody knows the final two quarters were going to be an exercise in calling off the dogs. It was Demaris Purifoy up the middle against Mississippi Valley until he got hurt and last week it was Adam Cofield up the middle most of the second half. Boresville.
On the NDSU sidelines, however, nobody was mentally checking out. The upside to blowout victories is for the overall morale of the team. It’s a chance for the guys that usually don’t get to play to get some game time in and quarterback Easton Stick said this week nobody takes that for granted.
“It’s fun because they’re doing everything that the starters are doing,” he said. “They’re working really hard all through the off season so when they get the opportunity, it’s fun to get out there and cheer them on. They come back to the sidelines and the look in their eyes — they’re here to play. No one comes here to be a backup, so it’s exciting to see them go out and make plays and to get to watch it again here on Sunday and Monday on film.”
Last year’s non-conference schedule provided no chance for some second teamers and certainly third-team guys and beyond to play. There were two overtime wins over Eastern Washington and Charleston Southern and the victory at Iowa. A lot on this blog has said about the good retention rate of Klieman’s tenure — getting the backups on the field doesn’t hurt that, either. It’s not a visible factor — the entire roster playing in a game — but nobody sees those players in practice during the week, either. There’s nothing like a little playing time to help a young player practice harder.