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Bison plan on liberally rotating defensive linemen against Cal Poly

Cole Karcz is one of numerous defensive linemen North Dakota State's football team will use in the season opener against Cal Poly. David Samson / The Forum

FARGO — If you're wanting to pay attention to the North Dakota State defensive line in the season opener tomorrow against Cal Poly, you better be on your game. The Bison may rotate linemen today at a revolving-door clip.

It's imperative that NDSU does that, says head coach Chris Klieman, considering the physical, grind-it-out nature of the Cal Poly triple option. The Mustangs have made a living over the years of getting teams in third-and-1 or third-and-2 situations.

The translation: Long drives that are designed to wear opposing out defenses, especially the big boys up front.

"You can't have enough defensive linemen against the triple option," Klieman said.

Both defensive end spots list "either-or" starters for the Bison. It will be Caleb Butler or Stanley Jones on the left side and Greg Menard or Derek Tuszka on the right side. Klieman said earlier this month that he considers all four to be starters.

On the inside, look for Blake Williams and Cole Karcz to share the defensive tackle spot. Senior Aaron Steidl returns as the starting nose guard. His backup, Jack Darnell, is new to the top backup role.

"We'll keep rotating them," Klieman said. "You have to keep fresh bodies in there. And offensively, we need to do the job to keep that offense on the sideline."

Early dome arrival encouraged

If you haven't been to the Fargodome in awhile, take note: The installation of 30 walk-through metal detectors to get into the arena could make for a longer wait. And nobody wants to miss the lights-out introduction video.

"Please anticipate a higher level of security when attending Fargodome events," said dome general manager Rob Sobolik. "We encourage guests to have patience and to make themselves aware of what they can do to help expedite the process."

The dome strongly encourages fans not to bring unnecessary bags into the arena. The maximum allowable size for a bag is 13-by-13 inches. A clear bag is encouraged but not required.

Express lanes are available for fans who do not bring a bag or extra items, the latter of which are defined by strollers, diaper bags, etc.

Signs are posted at all entrances on what items need to be removed or not removed from your pockets.

Around the Valley

• The Bison-Cal Poly game is the start of the "Big Sky-MVFC Challenge" series this season. The leagues play eight regular season games against one another. The Missouri Valley Football Conference won the series 5-3 last season.

• Another Big Sky vs. Missouri Valley matchup is also a big regional game in the national FCS ranks when Northern Iowa travels to Montana tonight. The Grizzlies will christen the second go-around for head coach Bobby Hauck, who was hired in the offseason.

• The Missouri Valley was 2-5 against FBS teams last year. There are three opportunities in the opening weekend with Missouri State starting it off facing Oklahoma State on Thursday night. The University of South Dakota is at Kansas State and South Dakota State is at Iowa State tonight.

• NDSU and Cal Poly were formerly members of the short-lived Great West Football Conference from 2004-07, a league comprised of new members to FCS football like NDSU and independents like Cal Poly looking for a home. The last meeting was memorable for the Bison: They scored 22 straight points in the final 10 minutes to take a 31-18 win in San Luis Obispo, Calif. The game-winner was an 80-yard touchdown pass from Steve Walker to Kole Heckendorf with 38 seconds remaining.

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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