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Klieman apologizes, says he needs to give assistants space in games

North Dakota State head coach Chris Klieman, left, helps Christian Dudzik off the field after Dudzik was shaken up Saturday in Ames, Iowa. Carrie Snyder / The Forum

FARGO – When running back Aaron Wimberly ran three yards for a touchdown on Saturday to give Iowa State a 14-0 lead, the North Dakota State defensive staff was scratching its collective head. It had some work to do.

Head coach Chris Klieman and defensive coordinator Matt Entz painted a picture early this week that communication was in need of improvement after the first quarter. Klieman, in his weekly news conference, went so far as to issue a public apology to Entz saying he needed to let him do his job.

“I wasn’t fair to Matt, and he did a great job of overcoming me,” Klieman said.

Klieman said he needs to do a better job of keeping quiet when the situation warrants keeping quiet. He said the time for the head coach to get involved with the defense is when the series is over, not during it.

Entz said he doesn’t really remember the specifics of the conversation and joked “maybe I wasn’t listening to him well enough.”

“He said something to me, and I kind of brushed it off,” Entz said. “He still wears the big whistle. He has that right.”

Klieman was NDSU’s defensive coordinator the last two years before taking over as the head coach after last season. One of the first assistants he sought out was Entz, a former defensive coordinator at Northern Iowa and Western Illinois. He was the defensive line coach at UNI in 2010 when Klieman was the Panthers’ defensive coordinator.

“I know this,” Entz said. “I know there are still moments he has D coordinator in him and that was part of the thing that lured me here. I consider him one of the best D coordinators in the country and now he’s going to be one of the best head coaches in the country.”

Entz said the defensive staff went through a couple of dry runs with communication in a pair of August intrasquad scrimmages. That includes defensive line coaches Nick Goeser and Jamar Cain and defensive backs coach Joe Klanderman.

“Just like anything, that’s going to get better as the season progresses,” Entz said. “The way I see it, all of those guys have the knowledge to be in charge. The last thing I want is for someone to not get their input.”

The input apparently worked. The Bison shut out the Cyclones in the second half limiting them to 158 total yards in the final three quarters.

Now the Bison turn their attention to Weber State (Utah), which is coming off a 45-14 loss at Arizona State last week. Like NDSU, the Wildcats have a new coaching staff.

The 7 p.m. (CST) kickoff will be the first time the Bison started the season with two straight road games since 2010. That was the year NDSU opened with a 6-3 win at Kansas – like Iowa State a Big 12 Conference team – and Northern Iowa.

The back half of those two games didn’t work out so well – the Panthers had their way with NDSU in a 16-9 win.

“We need to keep our kids grounded and humble to a certain extent, because we have plenty to improve on,” Entz said. “We talked yesterday: We are everybody’s Super Bowl, so we need to be prepared, and that’s the one thing we do an unbelievable job. We take numerous reps at practice, and they can adjust easily on the fly.”

Jeff Kolpack
Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at On the radio, Kolpack & Izzo sports talk show runs from 9-11 a.m. every Saturday morning. April through August, the WDAY Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack runs from 8-9 a.m.