UND football fall camp is underway in Grand Forks and after going 3-5 in their first season of the Big Sky Conference, improvement is necessary. With 12 returning starters and some new faces in key roles, fall camp is crucial in developing the season's road to success.
UND's first season in the Big Sky Conference was nothing short of an eye-opening experience. Since the last whistle of 2012, the team's focus has been to learn from the experience.
"We weren't satisfied with last season," said senior wide receiver Greg Hardin. "We made mistakes. And we just want to minimize the mistakes and improve on last year."
"The thing that we found out is you just can't make that critical mistake. You can't turn the ball over," adds head coach Chris Mussman.
Leading the way for UND is one of the top receiving corps in the FCS with All-American Greg Hardin, Jameer Jackson and Kenny Golladay. The three wide receivers combined for 21 TDs and 151 of the teams 250 receptions.
"Any quarterback in the conference, in the nation, would look at our receiving core and say, 'man, North Dakota has some great receivers," said redshirt freshman quarterback Joe Molberg. "You can't ask for anything better. Leadership in Blair Townsand and the speed and size."
What the green and white lack on offense, is a quarterback with a college game under his belt.
"It's still a competition for us," admits Mussman.
"It forces you to have a great practice every day. You have to take each rep like it's the last one like it's the one that's going to put you first or second on the depth chart," says redshirt freshman Ryan Bartels, one half of that very quarterback battle.
"They're great leaders. That's one thing that they all have," said senior running back Jake Miller. "It's something you look for in a quarterback. Someone who can command the huddle and tell guys what to do and they'll respond and that's what we have."
The true challenge for UND lies in their defense. They gave up over 5,000 yards in total offense, surrendering more than 34 points per game.
"We didn't play the way that we're accustomed to playing here at UND," admits Mussman. "We didn't tackle well at times. We had issues lining up and I think Coach Kotelnicki addressed it with the entire staff when he became defensive coordinator and I think the guys took it to heart."
"We know what we're up against and we know what we need to improve on for a lot of team's that we played last year," added junior defensive back Baylee Carr.
With improvement being the key word to camp, UND expects to be better prepared and see a much better result as they battle one of the toughest FCS schedules in the country.