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Klieman's semifinal week off to 'sick' start with the news of Wentz injury

FARGO-An "AO1" cap sat on a press conference table, just inches from Chris Klieman's microphone on Monday afternoon. Before talking about Sam, the North Dakota State head football coach talked about Carson.Carson Wentz, the former Bison quarterba...

North Dakota State head football coach Chris Klieman his quarterback Carson Wentz walk by during a final walk-through practice prior to the 2015 FCS national championship game in Frisco, Texas. David Samson / The Forum
North Dakota State head football coach Chris Klieman his quarterback Carson Wentz walk by during a final walk-through practice prior to the 2015 FCS national championship game in Frisco, Texas. David Samson / The Forum

FARGO-An "AO1" cap sat on a press conference table, just inches from Chris Klieman's microphone on Monday afternoon. Before talking about Sam, the North Dakota State head football coach talked about Carson.

Carson Wentz, the former Bison quarterback, tore the ACL in his left knee on Sunday and the official diagnosis came down a few hours before Klieman's weekly media address. The cap, a reference to Wentz's "AO1 Foundation," was a tribute of sorts to the Philadelphia Eagles' leader.

"We're sick to hear about Carson," Klieman said. "He's done so much for our state, so much for our university, so much for Bison football, just sick to hear about his injury. He was having an MVP-caliber year."

Klieman said he and Wentz stayed in touch on a weekly basis this season. Although Klieman said he didn't expect to hear back, he sent Wentz a text Monday morning and planned on trying to talk to him at some point this week.

"One thing all of us know about Carson, he's extremely grounded and never forgets where he came from," Klieman said.

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NDSU is trying to stay grounded this week with semester finals and Sam Houston State (Texas) coming to Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome Friday night for an FCS semifinal clash. It will be the fourth time these teams will see each other in the playoffs with the Bison winning the first three.

The first two came in the 2011 and 2012 FCS title games in Frisco, Texas. The last was a 35-3 victory in the 2014 semifinals at the dome.

Holding this Bearkat team to a field goal might be asking too much. They lead the FCS in scoring offense averaging 45.6 points per game, which includes a 54-42 second-round playoff win over the University of South Dakota and a 34-27 quarterfinal victory over Kennesaw State (Ga.) on Saturday.

"They're putting points on everybody," Klieman said. "They go with tempo and they go with speed. If they have a successful play on first down, they come to the football as quickly as they can and do what South Dakota does. They try to get you misaligned."

Quarterback Jeremiah Briscoe is the trigger with stats more suited for a video game. He's 306 of 528 passing with 44 touchdowns and 13 interceptions.

Three receivers have at least 66 receptions in Yedidiah Louis, Nathan Stewart and Davion Davis, the latter who was the Southland Conference Offensive Player of the Year. He also averaged 21.6 yards on punt returns with two going the distance for touchdowns.

The Bison did not lose anybody to injury in Saturday's 42-10 win over Wofford College (S.C.). Linebacker Levi Jordheim warmed up but did not play. Offensive guard Austin Kuhnert left the game with what Klieman called a leg contusion, but "Austin will be fine," he said.

The injury front is something NDSU dealt with plenty, moreso earlier in the season. Like Wentz, the Bison lost players like defensive end Greg Menard, linebacker Dan Marlette, running back Demaris Purifoy and left tackle Dillon Radunz to ACL injuries.

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"Whether it was because of a hit or did he plant wrong, we see it so much and it's happening in all levels of football," Klieman said of Wentz. "He's always going to find a way to make a play, that's what makes him so special. On that one, he was just trying to make a play."

FCS Semifinals

What: Sam Houston State at North Dakota State

When: 7 p.m. Friday

Where: Gate City Bank Field at the Fargodome

Radio: 107.9-FM, 1660-AM, 92.7-FM. TV: ESPN2

North Dakota State head football coach Chris Klieman his quarterback Carson Wentz walk by during a final walk-through practice prior to the 2015 FCS national championship game in Frisco, Texas. David Samson / The Forum
North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz talks with Easton Stick (12) during a 2015 game at Youngstown State. Wentz was sidelined for part of that season with a wrist injury before returning for the national championship game. Forum file photo

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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