Bison football notebook: Jensen solid in first start at NDSU quarterback

The identity of the North Dakota State starting quarterback was revealed when Brock Jensen trotted out to lead the No. 1 offense Saturday night. It concluded one of the more interesting weeks at that position in head coach Craig Bohl's eight year...

The identity of the North Dakota State starting quarterback was revealed when Brock Jensen trotted out to lead the No. 1 offense Saturday night. It concluded one of the more interesting weeks at that position in head coach Craig Bohl's eight years at the school.

Bohl said Monday a starter would not be named until game time. He said the coaches took "a hard look" after Wednesday's practice and then "polished things up" on Thursday.

Jensen said he was told on Friday that he would start against the University of South Dakota, a 38-16 Bison victory that solidified his starting status.

"We made the decision formally when the game started," Bohl said.

The freshman had a strong second half and finished 9 of 19 passing for 182 yards and one touchdown. He did not throw an interception and was not sacked.


Whether it was Jensen or Jose Mohler made no difference to USD head coach Ed Meierkort.

"None," he said. "You're going to laugh at me at this, but I don't know which one played. I just know he's very good."

Jensen and Mohler took turns with the No. 1 offense at practice during the week. Mohler's concussion last week against Morgan State (Md.) had no bearing on the decision.

"Both me and Jose were going to be ready for the game," Jensen said, "and that's how we took it."

Bison defense gets handle on Warren in second half

The NDSU defense went into halftime Saturday night with the thought of quarterback Dante Warren having a good time on the Fargodome field. So what did the Bison do at halftime?

They took a refresher course on their game plan.

"We just went over it and settled down," said NDSU defensive end Coulter Boyer.


They settled Warren down in the second half, a big key in the win.

"They forced us to do some things that were a little out of character," Warren said. "The running room got tighter and we weren't getting the yards we were looking for."

Warren hurt the Bison with his legs and arm in the first half, most notably with his 51 yards rushing and his 12 of 19 passing. But he was held to just 7 of 14 for 60 yards through the air and more important, got just 32 rushing yards.

"We all had to change our angles, make sure we pursued better," Boyer said.

Said Bohl: "We changed some structure and made sure we had people around him."

Defense clamps down on third-down conversions

The third down monster that plagued the Bison defense so many times last season returned to the Fargodome. USD was 5 of 9 on that down in the first half and four of them weren't short, either, at third-and-5, third-and-9, third-and-7 and third-and-9.

Warren picked up three of those with runs, either a scramble or a designed quarterback draw. But the defense settled down in the second half, rarely allowing a big play.


USD finished 7 of 17 on third-down conversions, meaning they made 2 of 8 in the final two quarters.

Etc. etc. etc.

Junior linebacker Chad Willson returned from missing last week with a rib injury to lead the team in tackles with nine. ... D.J. McNorton's 26-yard run in the first quarter was the longest run by a Bison running back this season. It set up his 1-yard touchdown run that tied the game at 7-7. His 250 yards was the 17th time an NDSU back has gone over 200 yards. ... McNorton's previous career high was 66 yards against Wagner College last year. ... The Bison had one turnover, a fumble in the third quarter, but the defense held the Coyotes to six yards in three plays near midfield. "We had things under control, an 18,000-seat stadium sitting in their seats waiting for something to happen," Meierkort said, "and we go three-and-out."... Bison running back Derrick Lang got his second career carry in the first half, a 12-yarder that got NDSU into Coyotes' territory. ... Daniel Eaves' two interceptions were the first career picks for the junior and the Bison have now doubled last season's total of three interceptions.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the Saturday Morning Sports Show, 9-11 a.m. on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack's NDSU media blog can be found at

Jeff would like to dispel the notion he was around when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press, but he is on his third decade of reporting with Forum Communications. The son of a reporter and an English teacher, and the brother of a reporter, Jeff has worked at the Jamestown Sun, Bismarck Tribune and since 1990 The Forum, where he's covered North Dakota State athletics since 1995.
Jeff has covered all nine of NDSU's Division I FCS national football titles and has written three books: "Horns Up," "North Dakota Tough" and "Covid Kids." He is the radio host of "The Golf Show with Jeff Kolpack" April through August.
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