Defense dominates spring
Published: Monday, April 23, 2012
Updated: Monday, April 23, 2012 17:04
Well, the 2012 NDSU football spring scrimmage was about what one could have expected - chock-full of defense with one offense doing just enough to notch the win, as the Gold team won on a 43-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.
A record crowd of 5,842 were on hand to see the defenses dominate the annual spring scrimmage that pits both starters and backups against their counterparts on the other side of the ball, and from there, the verdict was clear.
The defense is going to be scary-good this year.
Most notably on par with that claim is junior linebacker Grant Olson leading the Green team in tackles with six total, including a ten-yard sack. Olson finds himself replacing four-year starter Preston Evans and, through the spring, has lived up to the legacy with aplomb.
With Mike Hardie, Ricky Hagen, Codee Lee, DeShawn Dinwidde and walk-on Alex Enyi chipping in sacks as well, it's not difficult to imagine this defense staying the path from last year's unit that led the Football Championship Subdivision in scoring defense.
Factor in a defensive front that allowed just three yards per carry to the NDSU rushing crew and it was, in summary, the defense's day.
One of the real gems of the spring game came by way of freshman punter Ben LeCompte. Following in the footsteps of great NDSU punters like Mike Dragosavich, John Prelvitz and Matt Voigtlander, LeCompte's punting was a big part in the defenses having room to work.
Punting for both teams, LeCompte punted twelve times for an average of 42.6 yards per and planted four within the 20-yard line. For an idea of how phenomenal that is, those numbers would have been good for 10th nationally if stretched out across a season in punting statistics.
Particularly with how much the team leaned on the defense throughout the last-two playoff runs, having a good punter is critical. At least early on, LeCompte looks to have assuaged the fears that the punting job at NDSU could fall off.
In terms of the offense, there isn't a whole lot to be worried about despite little in the way of offensive production at the spring game. Part of it is context - the defenses are almost invariably further along than the offense at this point in spring. Give the offense time to institute new players into the game plan, and production should be right there against other teams.
The quarterbacks themselves did well enough against what could very possibly one of the top defensive secondaries in the country next season, as starter Brock Jensen and backup Esley Thorton threw 9-18 against the starting unit of Marcus Williams, Brendin Pierre, Christian Dudzik and Colten Heagle.
Freshman backup Ryan Stanford surprisingly played the entire game for the opposite unit, and threw 10-18 for 72 yards.
All in all, the spring game gave us a look at the team of 2012, and if Saturday was any indication, defense will again be the key ingredient to what should be another successful year.