Defense Overpowers Offense in UND Spring Game
Team green recorded 12 sacks and 18 tackles for loss.
GRAND FORKS, N.D. — During practices last fall, freshman Brock Boltmann was handing the ball off to Austin Gordon as the duo worked together on the offensive scout team to give the Fighting Hawks’ defense the best look they could in preparing for each week’s opponent.
This spring, Gordon was chasing Boltmann and the fellow North Dakota quarterbacks around from his new position at outside linebacker and the junior from Maple Grove, Minn., showed the Fighting Hawk faitfhul during Friday’s Spring Game that his transition to the defensive side of the ball has been a positive one.
Gordon and senior Austin Cieslak each had two sacks to lead a dominating defensive effort that resulted in 10 players accounting for 12 total sacks. The men in green also added 18 tackles for loss during the roughly 60-play scrimmage inside a boisterous High Performance Center.
“Defensively, I thought we played with a lot of desire and effort,” UND head coach Bubba Schweigert said. “If you can play that way and be assignment sharp, we have a chance to be a really good defense.”
Gordon, who switched to his new role from running back, and newcomer Hayden Galvin each recorded four total tackles to share the team lead in that category as well.
Junior James Johannesson scored the lone touchdown of the scrimmage when he plunged in from 1-yard out during a goal-to-goal segment that featured three plays. Johannesson’s score came after sophomore Hayden Blubaugh broke up a fade route in the corner of the end zone intended for Travis Toivonen.
“Offensively, I thought we got off to a little bit a slow start, so we need to address that,” Schweigert added. “The one thing we did without going live right away was put put our offense in a tough situation. We made it third-and-long. We wanted to test them when they’re at a disadvantage … We dug our way out and made some plays later.
“We always want to be more consistent, but we took care of the ball. That’s number one. We had one turnover in those plays. You certainly don’t want any, but when carrying the ball, we held onto it, so it was good to see the ball security. We had a couple of five-yard penalties we’d like to see (eliminated).”
Sophomore linebacker Jake Geier came up with the lone turnover of the game when he picked off Nate Ketteringham during the segment featuring different third-down scenarios. Geier also added a pass break-up during the live portion.
Boltmann took the most snaps among UND’s three signal callers, finishing 8-for-13 through the air for 70 yards. Ketteringham finished 6-for-8 for 78 yards, including a scrimmage-long 38-yard wheel route to Johannesson down the far sideline.
Junior Andrew Zimmerman, who took the first snaps of the scrimmage, went 2-for-8 for 19 yards.
All-Big Sky running backs John Santiago and Brady Oliveira had their touches limited during the session as both finished with one catch. Redshirt freshman Mikey Greibel led all receivers with four grabs for 16 yards, while Johannesson had two receptions for a team-high 44 yards. He also rushed eight times for 20 yards and junior Teddy Sherva led the ground attack with 53 yards on six carries.
Redshirt freshman tight end Graham DeVore provided the loudest crowd reaction when he collided on the near sideline with a pair of tackles after picking up 10 yards on a reception. DeVore also added a 16-yard grab to lead the Fighting Hawks’ tight ends in both categories.