Bison have no definitive answer on the availabiity of tight end Noah Gindorff
Standout senior missed the South Dakota game and is already listed as out for Youngstown on Saturday
FARGO — The 2021 North Dakota State football season came to an end too soon for tight end Noah Gindorff. As of Monday, it's uncertain if this year will meet the same fate.
Bison head coach Matt Entz said Gindorff will not be available this week for the 1 p.m. homecoming game against Youngstown State at Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome. Beyond that is unknown. For one, Entz had yet to talk to Gindorff before his weekly Monday afternoon press conference.
"He's still handling his business," Entz said.
Missing last week's 34-17 win at the University of South Dakota was another unfortunate setback for the sixth-year senior, who came back this season after being injured in the Division I FCS playoffs last season. Gindorff was slated to play in the 2022 NFLPA Collegiate Bowl at the end of January and then prepare for the NFL Draft until he was hurt.
The Bison limited Gindorff's practice availability in August practice in hopes of getting him healthy.
"Something that he had been battling," Entz said. "That surgically repaired ankle wasn't doing as well as we thought and still not doing as well as we thought. I know it's frustrating for him and his family, especially coming back for a sixth year. Every game counts, you don't get them back. There is no guarantee for another one."
Gindorff has 44 career receptions with the habit of scoring, hauling in 12 touchdown catches. He has six receptions and one touchdown in the three games he played this season.
With the graduation of wide receiver Christian Watson, Gindorff was counted on to help pick up the slack, even if it was from his tight end spot. His departure will make a starter for the second straight game of junior Joe Stoffel, a highly recruited player out of River Falls, Wis.
Stoffel made an immediate impact last Saturday catches two passes for 28 yards in the 34-17 win at the University of South Dakota. He played in all 15 games a year ago, but had just one catch.
Junior Logan Hofstedt is listed as the backup to Stoffel, although NDSU running back/fullback Hunter Luepke also plays tight end. Entz said three other players — Finn Diggins, Carson Williams and Jacob Streit — could also factor at tight end.
"This is going to be an accelerated learning curve right now," Entz said.
NDSU improved to 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. The Bison maintained their hold on the No. 1 ranking in both the FCS Coaches and Stats Perform Media top 25 polls. South Dakota State is a strong No. 2 in the media poll after a pivotal win at Missouri State last Saturday. Montana received four first place votes, to NDSU's 24, and is No. 2 in the coaches poll.
Bison left guard Nash Jensen, who left the USD game with an undisclosed injury, is listed as the starter for the Youngstown game. Entz listed him as day-to-day.
"I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it will be positive," he said.
Entz said backup left guard Grey Zabel had a good game in Jensen's place. Moreover, he pointed out that backup center Brandon Westberg immediately filled in for Jensen for seven plays with Zabel having to change jersey numbers from 98 to 74 because of a position switch.
"Westie grabbed his helmet, ran onto the field before we could even do anything, he hadn't taken a guard rep since fall camp," Entz said. "You talk about a young man who understands what we're doing offensively who can play center and guard. He proved his value to our football team this weekend."