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Jason Miller, Published August 07 2009

Miller column: Team happy to leave offseason behind

"It’s super to get back started with football.”

That was one of the first lines uttered by North Dakota State head football coach Craig Bohl during the team’s annual media day Thursday at the Fargodome.

When the number of players arrested for DUI equals the number of Applebee’s in Fargo, you know it’s been a tough offseason.

Four of each is way too much to stomach.

That’s why training camp couldn’t have come soon enough.

With the punishments finally dished out – two games for Jose Mohler and Garrett Johnson and one for Shamen Washington – now the team can concentrate on football instead of police reports and county jail mug shots.

“Finally, we get down to business,” strong safety Kyle Belmont said.

Ah, the beauty of training camp. It’s that wonderful time of year when optimism is abundant. Everything is peaches and cream.

And that’s just fine with me.

Besides, every team in the country is undefeated, right? It’s also a time when teams can forget about anything from a poor record the previous season to negative headlines.

Despite a 6-5 mark in 2008 after back-to-back 10-1 seasons, and with just four returning starters on each side of the ball, and an unsettled quarterback situation, the Bison say they are ready to compete in the rough and tough Missouri Valley Football Conference.

“I think we can play with everybody in our conference,” offensive tackle Michael Arndt said.

Last year, the media day buzz centered around conference titles, preseason rankings and home playoff games. On Thursday, it was all about the new season instead of the offseason.

“We take the same approach we have every season,” kicker Shawn Bibeau said. “There’s different bumps in the roads and there’s adversity out there, but we’ve approached camp the same way. … We’re putting all that behind us. We’re a team. We’re going to stick together with each other.”

The bumps were many, including the dismissal of two players and the four DUI arrests, but Bibeau said the team is moving on.

“That’s behind us. That’s old news,” he said.

Besides, training camp’s here. It’s time to talk about depth charts, third-string cornerbacks and special teams.

Finally.

“Our players really want to do the right thing. … We’ve addressed those issues,” Bohl said. “You know what, we’re in the middle of football season and our guys are focused on football.”

Offensive lineman Keith Buckman agreed.

“We didn’t have the greatest season. Stuff has been going on,” Buckman said. “Everybody is sick of it. … We’re just ready to go out and play and do what we do.”


Readers can reach Forum Sports Editor

Jason Miller at (701) 241-5538 or jmiller@forumcomm.com