UND defense keeps offense reeling in fall camp scrimmage

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GRAND FORKS — When a team holds its first scrimmage of fall camp — like the UND football team did Wednesday, Aug. 15 — reaching a judgment on the outcome can be difficult.

The question to ask after UND's scrimmage, which marked the midway point of fall camp, is whether the Fighting Hawks' pass rush was good or the pass protection was bad.

UND's defensive front kept the Fighting Hawks' quarterbacks on the run during the 50-play scrimmage.

"We're two weeks away from gametime and not everybody is ready for game-like plays," UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. "That means we have a lot of work to do.

"We have to approach practice and meetings with a real sense of urgency because we have to be ready to play in a game."

In fairness to UND's offense, the Hawks didn't play their stars — allowing the coaching staff an extended look at the depth options.

UND didn't play top three running backs John Santiago, Brady Oliveira or James Johannesson. The top two wide receivers Travis Toivonen and Noah Wanzek didn't play, either.

"That plays a factor," Schweigert said. "You take those five out, and it'll make a difference in your offense, no question."

The defense's constant disruption didn't allow for much flow in the scrimmage.

Quarterback Nate Ketteringham, in a competition for the No. 1 job with backups Andrew Zimmerman and Brock Boltmann, strung a few positive plays together early.

Ketteringham, a transfer from Sacramento State, hit freshman running back Otis Weah on a wheel route for a big gain and then found wide receiver Easton Erbes on an out route.

However, Ketteringham then had a ball misdirected by defensive end Mason Bennett at the line of scrimmage which resulted in an interception for outside linebacker Jaxson Turner, who returned the pick to the end zone.

"I thought we played pretty fast and got our calls in," said Turner, who has emerged as a starter at outside linebacker. "We made our checks when we needed to make checks.

"(On the interception), it was a good call from our safety to put me in a good spot. Mason got a hand on it and tipped it a little bit and that's why it was so short."

Zimmerman and Boltmann couldn't lead the offense down the field much, although all four quarterbacks were plagued by pass protection issues.

Late in the scrimmage, fourth-string quarterback Noah Grover found some success, highlighted by a scrambling deep ball to Erbes. He also had two completed passes to redshirt freshman wide receiver Jack Pifer.

In the run game, UND gave most of its carries to Weah and Teddy Sherva, as well as a few to Cam McKinney, who has moved from wide receiver and taken reps at running back the past few days of fall camp.

"We have to be more solid on protection and be better running the football," Schweigert said. "We had some young guys carrying it and part of the problem is the quarterback getting us in the right protection. Every position has to really step it up and be better."