Bison football team starts to develop depth behind Holloway
NORMAL, Ill. - The Warren Holloway Show is getting a couple of sidekicks. And not a moment too soon for the North Dakota State football team. When sophomore Justin Howard grabbed a long pass from Jose Mohler, evaded a couple of Youngstown State d...
NORMAL, Ill. - The Warren Holloway Show is getting a couple of sidekicks. And not a moment too soon for the North Dakota State football team.
When sophomore Justin Howard grabbed a long pass from Jose Mohler, evaded a couple of Youngstown State defenders and completed a 45-yard touchdown play, it marked the first time another receiver besides Holloway made a significant impact on a game. It was the game-winner in NDSU's 34-29 win last Saturday.
"It was just a matter of time when my play was going to get called," Howard said. "I'm just trying to make plays and coach put me in the best position I'm capable of doing."
The transfer from Minnesota State-Mankato - he never played a down for the Mavericks - was productive in spring football at NDSU. But going into the Youngstown game, he had eight catches that didn't go for a whole lot of yardage.
Holloway, meanwhile, was the go-to receiver and the big play producer with the exception of a 51-yard reception by Titus Mack against Northern Iowa.
"I would like to have five solid guys, maybe six," said NDSU receivers coach Kenni Burns. "We have four right now. I'd like to get two more guys and I think we'll get there."
Holloway, Mack, Howard and Reed Duchscher are the top four. Senior Gary Williams has rarely played.
Freshmen Cooper Wahlo Jr. and Nick Powell-Calhoun are considered in the developing stage, said head coach Craig Bohl. The coaches like true freshmen Zach Vraa and Trevor Gebhart, who were both injured in fall camp and are redshirting.
Howard transferred to NDSU to realize his Division I dream. He said he's still learning coverages and still trying to master the details like getting off the line of scrimmage and getting open.
He goes back to the season opener against Kansas - Howard's first football game since the Wisconsin state championship game his senior year in 2007. The Big 12 Conference stadium was a "big show," he said.
The show isn't so big anymore.
"I learn from watching Warren," Howard said. "I look at how he does things in practice, how he prepares himself before a game and it's been a big learning curve for me."
The learning curve today could take another leap against an Illinois State secondary that is young and has given up a lot of yards and points. Indiana State hung 59 on the Redbirds last week.
"The progress is coming along," Howard said. "Each week I'm coming out here to practice and trying to make myself better."
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 www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia