FARGO-The connection between a Jensen from Waupaca, Wis., and North Dakota State football was almost too good to be true for the Bison, even if the last names have a different spelling. Quarterback Brock Jensen left NDSU as the all-time winningest quarterback in FCS history.
Bison sophomore tight end Nate Jenson grew up in Waupaca watching Jensen lead the high school team. Moreover, Nate's older brother was the quarterback before Jensen at Waupaca and his middle brother played high school ball with Brock.
"I was at every game since I was probably 7 years old," Nate said.
So when it came time to pick a school, it was easy to look west.
"I think that played a big part because I was comfortable with Brock all my life," Nate said. "He's a family friend. If I ever had questions on the program, he was right there to answer them. And he was very reassuring what this place could do for me and I'm glad it turned out the way it did."
The 6-foot-6, 244-pound Jenson is slowly making his presence felt in the Bison tight end rotation. He caught a 35-touchdown pass last week against Illinois State with 27 seconds left before halftime, a score that put the Bison in control of the 31-10 win. A game earlier against Eastern Washington, he caught a key 20-yard catch on third-and-9 late in the fourth quarter that led to a game-tying field goal in a game the Bison won in overtime.
At this rate, nobody will confuse Jenson with Jensen.
"Funny story about that," Nate said. "In high school, a news station was doing a big report on how we were brothers and going to the same college. They asked me and I said he's not my brother and they had nothing else to say. That's not a bad thing, since Brock has such a positive vibe to him."
Bison cutting back on practice time
The Bison are playing in back-to-back weeks for just the second time this season, which is putting more emphasis on settling into a routine. Bison head coach Chris Klieman said practice will routinely be cut back a bit on Tuesday and Wednesday-which is about two weeks earlier than usual.
The reason are a variety of minor injuries that need more attention to healing.
"We lost some depth on special teams," Klieman said. "We have to find those 60 we're going to take on the road-who can be on punt defense-but we also have to protect guys."
Running back Bruce Anderson appears ready to return to the lineup after missing the Illinois State game with a sprained ankle. Anderson is the FCS active leader in career kickoff returns with a 31.5 average.
NDSU opened the season Aug. 27 against Charleston Southern, had a bye week followed by the Sept. 10 Eastern Washington game. The Bison traveled to Iowa the following week but were idle on Sept. 24 prior to the Redbirds game.
Etc. etc. etc.
• Missouri State quarterback Brodie Lambert completed his first 12 passes last week against Indiana State. In all, the Bears have scored a touchdown in their opening drive in three of their four games.
• Also against Indiana State, receiver Malik Earl had 11 catches for 161 yards and running back Calan Crowder rushed for 131 yards, giving the Bears a 100-yard receiver and 100-yard rusher in the same game for the first time since 2010.
• The Bison had 601 total yards in last year's 55-0 win over Missouri State, but the Bears have tightened the screws so far on defense this season giving up just 76.5 yards per game rushing, which is fifth in the FCS.
• The Missouri Valley Football Conference has four of the top 10 rushing defenses in the FCS with Northern Iowa fourth, MSU fifth, NDSU sixth and Youngstown State 10th.