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Taking this inside: Weather forces Bemidji State to start spring football indoors

Bemidji State head football coach Jeff Tesch observes during the Beavers’ first day of spring practice Saturday at BSU’s Gillett Recreation/Fitness Center. Practice was moved indoors due to snow still on the ground at Chet Anderson Stadium and the BSU practice field. Jack Hittinger | Bemidji Pioneer1 / 2
Bemidji State football coaches, including Adam Riggers, left, and Taylor Summers, right, run through some offensive drills on the blue track inside Saturday. Jack Hittinger | Bemidji Pioneer2 / 2

BEMIDJI – It’s technically spring, but it doesn’t look that way. And it doesn’t feel like it, either – just ask the Bemidji State football team.

Practicing indoors at the Gillett Recreation/Fitness Center, the Beavers began their spring practice schedule Saturday.

The Beavers had planned on playing inside for at least the first couple practices, but Saturday morning’s snow showers cemented the location.

“We’d much rather be outside,” offensive lineman Jordan Oien said. “The surface is hard… it’s a lot harder on the joints. So there’s no way to prepare for it. But you wake up in the morning to four inches of snow and there’s not much you can do.”

Practicing indoors – which the Beavers will do until the snow is clear from Chet Anderson Stadium and the BSU practice field – means the Beavers won’t be wearing full pads and they won’t be hitting.

But aside from that fact Saturday’s practice looked very similar to a normal outdoor practice. The Beavers of positional drills before finishing practice with some formational run-throughs. It was helmets-only and the players weren’t going full-speed on the very compact indoor surface at the rec center.

“For the most part, we do the same drills,” linebacker Buckley Wright said. “We might have to tone the intensity out a little bit. And the surface is a lot different. We have to get used to the footing, the way a voice carries inside.”

BSU head coach Jeff Tesch said for what they were planning on doing for most of the spring being indoors is just fine.

“We can’t tackle, but if it’s just a helmet practice we can do it in here,” he said. “Mostly we’re just doing base stuff. We have a lot of new faces, so we’re working on everything from base formations to lining up right to installing offense and defense.”

The Beavers lost many key offensive pieces from their 7-4 finish in 2012, including their starting center, quarterback (Lance Rongstad), running back (Dustin Kroeplin) and tight end (Brian Leonhardt) as well as their top three wide receivers (Justin Lee, Matt Gandrud and Beau Wakefield). On defense, the Beavers will be without three starters.

Finding out who will fill those holes is one of the most important things to be determined this spring – or at the very least, it will tell BSU coaches who will be seriously competition for starting roles in the fall.

Finding a capable replacement for Rongstad will likely be the most intriguing and difficult position battle. The spring roster now includes seven players listed at quarterback, including transfer Adam Ragsdale.

“We lost a lot, but we’re getting a lot back too,” Oien said. “We have lots of really talented young guys, new players coming in, so we’re looking to see who’s good.

“It’s good to develop the younger guys, get them into the system and find out who this team is going to be, find out identity.”

The Beavers may be inside for the next week or so – NCAA rules gives them 15 practices to work with, so they hope to get outdoors soon.

“Everyone’s going to be excited to get back outside,” Wright said. “We’ve been inside all winter lifting and doing film and stuff. We’ll be glad to get back out there and go full force.”

Until then?

“You just have to kind of pretend you’re outside, I guess,” Oien said with a laugh.

Jack Hittinger

Jack Hittinger is the sports editor of the Bemidji Pioneer. He is also the Bemidji State beat writer. He hails from the Great State of Michigan. Read his Bemidji State blog at and follow him on Twitter at @Jackhitts.

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