We caught up with The Forum reporter’s Jeff Kolpack, who also runs the BISON Media Blog and hosts a Saturday morning radio show, to chat with him about the upcoming game between Iowa State and North Dakota State.
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Clones Confidential: The most notable departures from the three-time national champions are head coach Craig Bohl and quarterback Brock Jensen. Who are some other notable losses and why?
Jeff Kolpack: There are a bunch of notable departures, probably too many to mention but a few of the most important: LT Billy Turner (third round pick of the Dolphins); cornerback Marcus Williams (free agent, Texans), safety Brian Shepherd (free agent, Redskins), NG Leevon Perry, DT Ryan Drevlow, WR Ryan Smith (Saskatchewan CFL), running back Sam Ojuri (couple pro camps, cut). Also, G Zack Johnson is out for season with injury and C Josh Colville had to give up the game because of injury. So four of five starters on offensive line will be new.
CC: Who are the players to watch that will ease the transition of the seniors that have moved on from the program?
JP: There are still 13 senior starters on this team, so not totally devoid of experience. Five players to watch: WR Zach Vraa, RB John Crockett, LB Carlton Littlejohn, S Christian Dudzik, S Colten Heagle.
CC: Where do you think the toughest matchups will be for NDSU on offense and defense against Iowa State?
JP: The interior of both the defensive and offensive lines. It’s where NDSU has the least experience and probably not a good place to have the least experience.
CC: Be honest–how great has the national attention been as NDSU has formed a dynasty in the FCS, including being featured on ESPN College GameDay last year?
JP: It’s captured the city of Fargo and the region, no doubt about that. There are no professional teams within 3 1/2 hours (Twin Cities) so Bison football has most of the attention.
CC: What do you have to say to those that don’t believe NDSU has accomplished anything major by winning in a lower division and mostly beating up on lower FBS teams like Kansas and Minnesota?
JP: I guess you compete where you are, no matter what division. I think if you talked to fans in a sold out Fargodome and the thousands that tailgate before each game that the team has accomplished a few things.
JP’s final thoughts: This game is a tossup. ISU has higher division players but NDSU has a winning tradition and has won four straight FBS games.