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NDSU's Menard out for the season with knee injury

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North Dakota State senior defensive end Greg Menard (96) will miss the season due to a knee injury. Forum file photo2 / 2

FARGO -- North Dakota State lost another defensive star and this one before the season began. Bison head coach Chris Klieman confirmed Monday morning, Aug. 7, that senior Greg Menard will be lost for the season with a knee injury suffered in practice.

Klieman said Menard, who played as a true freshman at defensive end in 2014, will take a redshirt and have the chance to return for the 2018 season. Whether he does is a wait-and-see situation since the injury just happened last Friday during a routine drill.

“We’ll wait awhile before we ask that question,” said defensive coordinator Matt Entz. “Let’s get the knee taken care of first, let him visit with his family and see where he’s at.”

Menard started 29 straight games and was named to the “Watch List” for the FCS Buck Buchanan Award, which goes to the best defensive player in the subdivision. He has 125 career tackles -- 33.5 for lost yardage -- and is seventh on the all-time Bison list with 28 quarterback sacks in 43 games.

Last year, the Bison saw linebacker Nick DeLuca and defensive tackle Nate Tanguay go down with season-ending injuries with DeLuca’s turning into a medical hardship. In 2015, quarterback Carson Wentz was lost for over half the season. Linebacker Travis Beck went down for the season before the 2014 playoff run, one year after linebacker and captain Grant Olson was essentially lost for the 2013 title surge.

The 2012 year saw defensive standouts Colten Heagle and Leevon Perry leave because of knee injuries.

“That is the thing that makes you sick to your stomach,” Entz said. “You know the effort and time that Greg has put in, especially when you go into your senior year. I lived it last year with Nick and had a number of conversations with Nick on how hard it became come mid-year when you start feeling better but you can’t do anything.”

Entz said Menard was hurt when he planted his right leg on a drill and it didn’t hold up.

“It’s something he’s done 1,000 times in his three years here and it just went,” he said. “We had all our fingers crossed initially that it was something less severe than what it is.”

Menard’s departure opened up a host of names on Monday for possible replacements, both in the starting lineup and with the depth. Entz said juniors Stanley Jones and Caleb Butler would be the defensive end starters if the Bison opener against Mississippi Valley State were this week. It’s not until Sept. 2.

Senior Jarrod Tuszka and sophomore Derrek Tuszka are behind them but a trio of linebackers may also get some work at defensive end in juniors Levi Jordheim and Dan Marlette and freshman Jabril Cox. Entz also said true freshman defensive end Spencer Waege from Watertown, S.D., worked with the No. 1 defense on Monday.

“So we’re trying to do it by committee,” he said. “It’s kind of what we’ve tried to do over the course of my three years here. We’ve had seniors go down with a drastic injury every year I’ve been here and we seemed to keep going about our business.”

If there is a silver lining, Entz said, it is the fact the injury came a week into fall camp.

“It gives us a chance to get those guys schooled up on some of those techniques there,” he said.

Replacing the leadership of a three-year starter, however, may not be as easy as throwing another player in there.

“Greg’s a great guy, he brings a ton of energy to practice,” said running back Bruce Anderson. “Unfortunately he got hurt and we can’t dwell on that. Next man up and the guys on that side of the field are ready to step up.”

Jeff Kolpack
Jeff Kolpack covers North Dakota State athletics, the Fargo Marathon and golf for The Forum. His blog can be accessed at www.bisonmedia.areavoices.com. 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.
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