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Jeff Kolpack, Published October 19 2012

NDSU's Van Voorhis will be kept busy today

FARGO – North Dakota State safety A.J. Van Voorhis is in his fourth year of practice, film, winter workouts, spring football, summer workouts and fall camp. He’s put plenty of time into the program.

Tonight, he may see more playing time at safety than he ever has after starting strong safety Bryan Shepherd was sidelined last week with a lacerated kidney. That injury came on top of the loss of starter Colten Heagle to an ACL earlier in the season.

Van Voorhis will also be the backup to free safety Christian Dudzik when the Bison play the University of South Dakota at Howard Wood Field in Sioux Falls.

“I’ve learned a lot these last four years and that’s helped me a lot,” Van Voorhis said. “Age does have its perks I guess.”

The junior from Champlin, Minn., has primarily been a special teams player in his career, most notable on kickoff coverage. He said he prepares for the safety position like he’s going to play a lot every week, but admits this week has a little more “sense of urgency.”

He’ll be able to back up both Dudzik and starting strong safety Bobby Ollman tonight simply because of experience. He’s gone back and forth between those positions periodically.

He also said he doesn’t take offense to the offseason moves of two cornerbacks – Dudzik and Shepherd – being moved to safety.

“Those guys are great players and I have no problem being a role player,” Van Voorhis said. “We have to give ourselves the best chance to win. That’s fine with me.”

It took six games, but that chance is before him now. His role has now taken on a greater meaning.

“I have to be strong and show the coaches and give them confidence that I can do this,” Van Voorhis said.

Jensen: Explaining loss part of the QB’s job

As the quarterback and leader of the offense, NDSU junior Brock Jensen had the unpleasant task of explaining three interceptions in the wake of last Saturday’s 17-14 loss to Indiana State. He said he also knows it’s part of the job.

“It’s one of those positions where whether it’s good or bad you have to face the facts,” Jensen said. “It was one of those games that didn’t go very well. It’s one of those things you have to let people know what happened and definitely let them know we’re going to come back even stronger now.”

Jensen had a quiet intensity about him when speaking to the media this week. He said the offense learned from watching tape on what a lack of execution can do to an offense.

Asked if the team’s 24-hour rule to talk about the previous game was tougher after a loss, he didn’t mince words.

“Absolutely,” he said. “As of right now, our team wants to get that bitter taste out of our mouth.”

It will be a homecoming for Hardie, Gebhart

Two Bison players who particularity played close attention when it was announced the NDSU and USD game would be played in Sioux Falls were defense end Mike Hardie and receiver Trevor Gebhart. Both are from Sioux Falls – Hardie from O’Gorman High School and Gebhart Washington High.

Both will have plenty of family and friends on hand. Gebhart said he started asking for unused player tickets back in fall camp.

“I rounded up quite a few,” he said.

Both played a lot of high school games at Howard Wood and both will see a couple of familiar faces. USD has four players from Sioux Falls. Receiver Will Powell was a former teammate of Hardie’s at O’Gorman.

“I’ll be playing against a couple of old buddies, so that will be fun,” Hardie said. “I had some success there in high school so hopefully it will be the same thing in college.”

Etc. etc. etc.

The Coyotes’ five remaining opponents have all been ranked in the FCS top 25 this season. After NDSU, USD is at Indiana State, at Youngstown, hosts Northern Iowa and ends the year at South Dakota State. … Of NDSU punter Ben LeCompte’s 14 punts, eight have landed inside the opponents’ 20-yard line. … LeCompte is expected to continue to kickoff while Adam Keller, who has been limited with a hamstring injury, will continue to do field goals and extra points.

Forum reporter Jeff Kolpack can be reached at (701) 241-5546. Kolpack’s NDSU media blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/bisonmedia