GRAND FORKS — The UND defense lost seven of its top eight tacklers a year ago, but experience isn’t an issue on the defensive line.
Nose guard Jalen Morrison and defensive end Jaelen Johnson return as starters and both have played at least 28 career games.
But Jalen and Jaelen have a lot to prove in 2022 after missing time with injuries in 2021. Johnson started the first six games in defense before missing the second half of the year with injury, while Morrison was limited to eight games.
UND defensive line coach Austin Flyger said Morrison and Johnson are racking up strong drops as leaders of this group.
The third starter in the 3-4 UND is expected to be Minnesota Gophers transfer Ben McNaboe, who started in place of Johnson in his second season.
McNaboe, who is taller and listed at 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds this fall, got his feet wet in college football last fall with 19 tackles and 3.5 for loss.
UND’s depth is still being sorted out at fall camp as players such as Luke Lennon, Casey Schultz, Elijah Beach and Craig Orlando continue to develop.
UND used more Beach and Orlando at the defensive end in some looks this fall in case the Fighting Hawks wanted to match an offense with more physicality.
The scene: UND practiced indoors at the Pollard Center (with a mix of outdoor practice for punting) in pads from 8:45 a.m. to 10:45 a.m.
Game of the day: Red Wilson, who drew constant buzz at fall camp, landed a dive on a deep bomb from Quincy Vaughn.
Look good : UND worked on punts on the outside as the roof of the inside facility is too low for the punt and starter Cade Peterson and rookie Luke Silvernale blew their reps.
- Rookie running back Anthony Moe-Tucker completed practice for the first time this season as he recovers from injury.
- This is the time in fall camp when a few players start getting hurt. I won’t dwell much on injuries until it appears they could impact the regular season.
- Tommy Schuster was sharp for the second day in a row, hitting Bo Belquist, Jack Wright and running back Tyler Hoosman on short balls in an 11-on-11 run.
- Before Quincy Vaughn’s long bomb at Red Wilson, the defense picked up a “sack” when inside linebacker Tommy Kimball burst into the backfield.
- Safety Sammy Fort had an interception from Simon Romfo on an angled pass. Fort then emphatically dunked the ball into a trash can, in keeping with turnover tradition in UND training.
- Richard Agyekum, who is battling for playing time at cornerback, had a nice pass breakup from a Simon Romfo through ball intended for second-year receiver Nick Kupfer.
- Grand Forks Central rookie Sam Strandell had his best reps of his young career when he caught a shoulder throw from Perham product Colton Hackel late in teamwork.
- The teamwork ended with a nice separation of rookie cornerback Jamal Dixon, a product of Moorhead.
- After some teamwork on the inside, UND came out to work on punts from Cade Peterson and Luke Silvernale. UND also worked on emergency option punts (a number of kickers).
- CJ Siegel, Garett Maag, Red Wilson and defensive back Cole Davis caught the punts.