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McFeely: Injured Tanguay, DeLuca are better for Bison than none at all

North Dakota State University defense Nick DeLuca, MJ Stumpf, Nate Tanguay and Brad Ambrosious.

There is a list in the North Dakota State football coaches’ offices showing the Bison players who’ve been lost for the season to injury. As of now, it contains 13 names.

(Sidebar: Head coach Chris Klieman says eight of those players have torn anterior cruciate ligaments in their knees. That has to be some sort of macabre record.)

Some of the names are familiar, like star defensive end Greg Menard and wunderkind offensive lineman Dillon Radunz. Others are scout team players who are not familiar to fans, like receivers Brant Bohmert and Trevor Heit.

Thirteen is a big number and the Bison have felt it, despite their 10-1 record and No. 2 overall seed in the upcoming Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. The Bison are particularly thin at running back and linebacker. They lifted the redshirt off freshman Seth Wilson in the eighth game of the season after a season-ending hip injury to the outstanding junior Lance Dunn.

But here is another truism, as the Bison prepare for their first playoff game Dec. 2 at the Fargodome against the winner of Saturday’s game between San Diego and Northern Arizona: Despite all the injuries, NDSU is better positioned for this year’s playoffs than they were for last season’s when injuries devastated the Bison’s defense. NDSU advanced to the semifinals in 2016 before losing to eventual national champion James Madison and by the time that game rolled around, the Bison defense was held together with chicken wire and duct tape.