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Bison to work during bye

North Dakota State gets a week off on the schedule, but not on the practice field. The Bison do not play Saturday, something that can either be good or bad depending on the maturity of a team, said NDSU head coach Craig Bohl. "If you're an immatu...

Craig Bohl

North Dakota State gets a week off on the schedule, but not on the practice field.

The Bison do not play Saturday, something that can either be good or bad depending on the maturity of a team, said NDSU head coach Craig Bohl.

"If you're an immature team, you tend to waste time and take steps back as a team," he said.

The Bison responded to a bye week last year in fine fashion. They shut out South Dakota State 24-0 two weeks after a 23-14 loss to California Davis.

Entering this bye week with a win -- 49-19 last Saturday against Carson-Newman College (Tenn.) -- is a quality of football issue.

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"That's one of the best things as a coach and as a team," Bohl said. "Sometimes you have a tendency to linger on losses than when you linger on wins. Make no mistake, we're not going to take the week off. But when people win, you want to get ready for the next game."

The maturity test this year will come in Thibodaux, La., on Oct. 2 when the Bison travel to Nicholls State. Bohl said NDSU will do some preparation for Nicholls this week with an added emphasis of strength and conditioning training.

Nicholls will present the NDSU defense with a similar look that Carson-Newman gave the Bison last week. It took a quarter, but the Bison eventually got the Eagles' veer offense under control.

Nicholls uses more of a wishbone triple option.

"To have that type of work back-to-back is beneficial," Bohl said.

The Bison have benefited from not having any starters out with an injury. But NDSU did lose backup safety Cody Kittelson for four to six weeks with a knee injury. He was hurt on the kickoff coverage team.

Cornerback Scott Walter, who has rotated with Bobby Babich, twisted an ankle but Bohl expects him to practice in some capacity this week.

Starting offensive lineman Justin Buckwalter, who went down in the second half of the Carson-Newman game but walked off the field, has an apparent pinched nerve in his neck, Bohl said. He's listed as day-to-day this week.

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"He just needs some time off," Bohl said.

Nicholls got some unexpected time off last weekend. Hurricane Ivan forced the school to postpone its game against Texas A&M-Kingsville.

The Colonels, 1-1, play at Texas Southern this Saturday. Nicholls received votes earlier in The Sports Network I-AA top 25, but did not crack a rated spot.

The Bison are ranked 34th in this week's Football Gazette top 40 poll. Nicholls is not rated.

At 3-1, Bohl said he has mixed feelings on NDSU's season. Missed opportunities cost NDSU in a 15-13 loss at Northern Colorado.

"I'm a little bit disappointed but we're not off course on where we want to be," he said. "Bittersweet -- but you don't want to take away the last two weeks. We've performed very well."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack at (701) 241-5546

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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