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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FARGO—It sounds odd because he moves just a couple feet over on the line of scrimmage, but North Dakota State sophomore Cole Karcz is becoming a two-way player for the Bison. He's splitting his time these days between defensive tackle and defensive end. The big picture is Karcz is becoming more valuable by the day.
FARGO—North Dakota State lost eight seniors, in addition to its head coach from last year's team that made a brief run in the Summit League postseason tournament. It's about as depleted a Division I volleyball program can get over the course of a few months. It was last spring when Jennifer Lopez was given the "interim" label as the head coach, which traditionally is a one-season audition to be the full-time boss.
FARGO—There was a time when the North Dakota State home football season was looking more bad and ugly than good with Fargodome games against Mississippi Valley State, Robert Morris, Missouri State, Western Illinois, Northern Iowa and South Dakota. History wasn't on the season ticket holders' side. It was looking to be the UNI rivalry game and the other five at Gate City Bank Field. That line of thinking, however, has taken 180-degree turn with the upward surge of Western Illinois and USD. The Coyotes are ranked fourth in the latest FCS Division I top 25 coaches poll.
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio — The 16,000-plus fans were filing out of Stambaugh Stadium in the wake of an intense 27-24 North Dakota State victory over Youngstown State on Saturday night. Bison linebacker Jabril Cox was emerging from a locker room in the lower level of the facility. In a sense, the freshman was taking a curtain call for the assembled NDSU fans still soaking in the overtime win. "This was a coming-out party for Jabril Cox," said head coach Chris Klieman.
Youngstown, Ohio The North Dakota State running backs were like the visiting fans tailgating around Stambaugh Stadium on Saturday. There wasn't much room to roam and they ran into more folks in red than they're used to at home. That didn't apply to the quarterback in the 27-24 overtime win against Youngstown State.
Youngstown, Ohio Bo Pelini, in his trademark gray sweatshirt, walked swiftly to the postgame podium in a room situated in the back hallways of Stambaugh Stadium. His cheeks jowled a bit, he looked from one side of the room to the other and barked out "go ahead" to the assembled reporters. He was asked how tough the game was. "It was a tough one," he replied. He was asked his thoughts on a pass interference call late in the game. "It's pretty obvious, isn't it?" Pelini said.
Fargo If you want a lesson in Murderers' Row football scheduling, try being Don Morton in 1981. The North Dakota State head coach faced road games at Northern Michigan, Northern Arizona and Northern Colorado to open the season and then the home opener against North Dakota.
FARGO—North Dakota State sophomore Ty Brooks showed his value at Eastern Washington early last month when he returned a kickoff 41 yards. It came after the Eagles scored to take a 7-3 lead, which to date has been NDSU's only deficit this season. Starting from near midfield, it didn't take the Bison long to regain the advantage. A 23-yard touchdown run from Lance Dunn culminated a drive that took only six plays, and the Bison took the lead for good on their way to a 40-13 non-conference football win.
FARGO—It's a badge of honor of sorts when it comes to unofficial titles with the North Dakota State football team. There are two cornerbacks on defense, with one of them being designated as the "shutdown corner." Marcus Williams was the master of the role in his time with the Bison. He is the program's interception leader with 21. When Williams left for the NFL after the 2013 season, the baton to his role was passed on to CJ Smith, who took the job and parlayed it into his own NFL experience.
TERRE HAUTE, Ind.—North Dakota State started early, kept the hammer down through three quarters and pounded Indiana State Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium. It wasn't close from the get-go. Quarterback Easton Stick threw four touchdown passes and the Bison rolled the Sycamores 52-0. The win on a windy, warm and sunny day before 4,743 fans at Memorial Stadium boosted the No. 2-ranked Bison to 5-0 overall and 2-0 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference and kept the Sycamores winless in five games.