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FOOTBALL: Defense tops offense in Bemdiji State spring game

Bemidji State quarterback Ryan Shields (12) runs around some blockers as he looks for daylight during BSU’s annual Green And White Spring Game Thursday night at Chet Anderson Stadium. The Gang Green Defense won the abbreviated scrimmage over the Wicked White Offense 14-2. BSU Photo Services

BEMIDJI – Bemidji State University head football coach Jeff Tesch and defensive coordinator Rich Jahner expected the defenses to control play during Thursday’s Green and White scrimmage so they weren’t surprised when the defense posted a 14-2 victory in the modified scoring system.

But both coaches also were impressed with how the offenses picked up the pace and were able to move the ball by the end of the evening.

“We had more players coming back on defense so you would hope the defense would be ahead of the offense,” Tesch said. “It was good to see how the defense dominated during the 30 plays from scrimmage.

“The scrimmage showed that we have new receivers, quarterbacks, tight ends and running backs and I would have been surprised if we didn’t struggle on offense,” Tesch continued. “But we got better as the game went along. During the goal line and the overtime (held at the end of the evening) the offense did some very nice things.”

The extended winter kept the BSU coaches and players confined to the Gillett Recreation and Fitness Center for most of the spring practice schedule. With the help of the BSU grounds crew, which spent hours clearing snow from the field and the north section of the stands, the Beavers were able to practice on the field all this week and they were able to stage their Green and White game at Chet Anderson Stadium.

Indoor practices limit what a team can work on and Thursday was the first time the Beavers could simulate punting and kicking situations.

“And it looks like we found a weapon,” Tesch said of kicker/punter Zach Pulkinen who continually drilled his punts, was perfect on all of his simulated PAT kicks and comfortably booted a 29-yard field goal during an overtime situation.

Thursday also was one of the few times the defense could attack the ball carrier and Jahner liked how his troops performed.

“Defensively we played very solid football. We did not make many mistakes,” Jahner said. “We have some experience returning on defense and we always hang our hat on putting on defensive pressure.

“Our quarterbacks this year are young and Thursday they had trouble adjusting to the pressure.”

Among the defenders who made an impression was freshman outside linebacker Andrew Street of Bemidji.

Playing with the second defensive unit, Street was credited with a sack and a safety during a drill that had the offense starting plays at its own 2-yard line. Later in the drills, during the simulated game-situation portion of the evening, he sacked quarterback Alex Hass for a seven-yard loss.

“Andrew plays with a high motor. He is very disruptive on defense,” Jahner said. “We moved him to outside linebacker and he plays like his hair is on fire. I can’t wait to see how well he will do once he figures things out.”

Figuring things out was Thursday’s main goal and Tesch said the scrimmage will help the coaches solve the personnel puzzles.

“We have some decisions to make but now we have some info we can use to help us base our decisions,” the coach said. “We received some great feedback during the scrimmage and we are quite a few steps ahead of where we were before Thursday night.”

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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