Jeff Kolpack, Published September 26 2012
Bison offensive line hopes for better showing this time around against Northern IowaFARGO – Center Joe Lund snapped the ball to his North Dakota State quarterback and promptly pulled to the outside on a blocking assignment. It was one of the last things he remembered.
A concussion sent him packing for the rest of the game. As it turned out, not being able to recall much probably rendered him as one of the lucky ones. Northern Iowa stomped the Bison at the line of scrimmage.
“It was something pretty incredible, what they did and what we didn’t do,” Lund said. “It was a factor of both. It was hopefully a once-in-a-lifetime thing, and I never want to see that again.”
That was two years ago. On Saturday, the Bison return to the scene of the crime when they take on the Panthers at the UNI-Dome. It will be the Missouri Valley Football Conference opener for NDSU, which was the same scenario in 2010.
The score was only a 16-9 Bison defeat, but it was seemingly larger in other areas. Like NDSU giving up an UNI school-record tying 11 quarterback sacks that led to the Bison finishing with minus-40 yards rushing.
“That was a learning experience for me just as much as the offensive line back then,” said NDSU offensive line coach Scott Fuchs.
The Bison returned to Fargo and revamped their offensive line by moving players around.
It worked. They’ve gone 25-5 since.
They’ve gone 25-5 with Billy Turner in the starting lineup. He was forced into action at the UNI game two years ago because of Lund’s concussion, which moved Austin Richards to center. Turner has been a presence since.
“That was my first Division I football experience,” Turner said. “It’s a crazy place to play.”
That experience, Turner said, was brought up earlier this week. It was put in perspective in relation to other Bison offensive line performances over the years.
“We’re going back to a place where we played one of the worst games in school history,” Turner said.
Only Turner and Lund remain as regular players from that 2010 loss. Right guard Tyler Gimmestad cracked the starting lineup last year while right tackle Joe Haeg and left guard Josh Colville are freshman starters.
Whereas the ship hit rough seas in the last trip to Cedar Falls, things have calmed down since then.
“Thirty games are quite a while ago,” Fuchs said. “I’m a little bit more removed from that and our whole group is also. We know we need to play a really good game each week and this week is no different.”
Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546.
Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found