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Jeff Kolpack, Published December 04 2010

Versatile offensive lineman Richard back into postseason

It took four years, but Austin Richard is back in familiar ground: playoff football games.

The North Dakota State offensive lineman played in three North Dakota high school state championship games for Fargo South, winning two titles. He’ll be either the starting center or left guard today when the Bison play at Montana State in the second round of the Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoffs.

He’s become adept at alternating between the two, not only during a season but now during a game. He switched every third series last week in a 43-17 win against Robert Morris.

“I was flipping like that the entire game,” he said.

A fourth-year junior, he’s been an on-field coach for true freshman center Jesse Hinz, who was pressed into action late in the year when Joe Lund broke his leg. Likewise, junior right guard Paul Cornick has been a big help to true freshman right tackle Billy Turner.

“Just the understanding of both of those positions helps me out,” Richard said. “It helps that when Jesse is in there, and me having played that position before, that if he would ever need some help to make a decision that he can ask me.”

Cold temperatures will affect kicking games

NDSU placekicker Ryan Jastram was one of the first players to take the Dacotah Field practice turf on Monday night – in a winter storm. Cold temperatures – the forecasted high is 28 degrees – are expected today in Bozeman and that will most likely affect the kickers.

“It’s just like kicking a rock, although maybe not that hard,” Jastram said. “And it won’t carry as far in cold temperatures.”

How far? Take wind out of the equation and a freezing thermometer can take five to 10 yards off a kick, he said.

Jastram said the special teams will also have to keep an eye on the footing.

“But Montana has turf so it shouldn’t be a problem,” he said.

Sitting out RMU game not easy for Anderson

Senior linebacker Matt Anderson continues to battle nerve-like issues in his neck area. He missed last week’s Robert Morris game and it’s a similar ailment that sidelined him at midseason.

Still, it’s his last season and his only chance at a playoff game.

“Plan on me being there,” he said, earlier this week.

It wasn’t easy last week watching the game from the sideline.

“Awful,” he said. “Making the playoffs was a big factor in me coming here, one game to play after being here five years. That was tough.”

Coaches put in double time with game, recruits

It’s been 10 years since the Bison coaches have had to pull double duty this time of the year. Not only is NDSU still playing but recruiting is also in high gear.

Bohl said the focus is on winning the game, but recruiting cannot be ignored.

“I’m drinking a lot of coffee, I can tell you that,” he said.

Telling players that his team is in the playoffs is a selling point, he said, but there’s more to the art of attracting players than that.

“You know young men, it still makes an impression when you’re sitting there in front of them looking them eye to eye,” Bohl said, “so we’re burning a lot of midnight oil. But that’s why we came here, to get as far as we can in this thing.”

Etc. etc. etc.

E The father of NDSU multimedia coordinator Kasey Byers, Chris Byers, has been the public address announcer for Montana State football since 2004. He’s been the sports director at KULR-TV in Billings, Mont., for 28 years.

E The Missouri Valley Football Conference is 38-28 in the playoffs in the last 13 years including last week’s 2-1 record. A league team has reached the semifinals in 11 of the last 14 years. Only one conference school has faced Montana State in postseason: Northern Iowa defeated the Bobcats in 2003.

E Western Illinois quarterback Matt Barr, whose team plays at top-seeded Appalachian State today, was one of three finalists for the Walter Payton Award, which goes to the best offensive FCS player. Quarterback Jeremy Moses of Stephen F. Austin and quarterback DeAndre Presley of Appalachian State are the other finalists.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be heard on the Saturday Morning Sports Show, 9-11 a.m. on WDAY-AM (970). He can be reached at (701) 241-5546.

Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia