Practice #10 of Fighting Hawks Fall Camp was moved indoors to the High-Performance Center due to a steady drizzle blanketing historic Memorial Stadium.
UNDFootball360 was there taking a particular look at first-year offensive line coach Joe Pawlak’s squad, the Hog’s.
As anticipated, junior Noah Mortel did not participate in any contact drills though he was in uniform (helmet, shoulder pads, shorts). Also, noticeably absent from reps was senior center Patric Rooney. It’s unclear why Rooney was held out, though HPC talk suggested there may be a bit of the flu bug hitting the Hawks. Backup QB Andrew Zimmerman was present but was also held out of reps.
Rooney’s absence meant the snaps with the #1’s were being handled by junior Nathan Nguon. The versatile Nguon has been the Hawks’ utility man, it’s Nick Punto if you will, the past couple of seasons.
Practice began with a series of offensive pass plays. QB’s Nate Ketteringham, Noah Grover and Tommy Schuster all working in behind the starting five consisting of: LT – So. Matt Waletzko LG – Jr. Ryan Tobin C – Jr. Nathan Nguon RG – R-FR. Donny Ventrelli RT – Jr. Bennett Helgren. Jr. Sean Russo replaced Helgren at RT for several of the 1’s reps in the first series and started the second round of reps for the 1’s. Right now we see Russo and Helgren as a dead heat with Russo possibly having the upper hand come August 31st.
Noticeably absent was RG Kyle Hergel, who will undoubtedly be the starter. We don’t believe there is anything to read into here.
Seeing offensive line reps with the 2’s were: LT – So. Jeremy Jenkins LG – So. Connor Kruse C – R-Fr. Ben Christian LG – Fr. Kyle Downs LT – Bennett Helgren. Russo and Helgren continued to rotate at LT with the 2’s like they did with the first unit. Russo also saw some reps at LT, and Nguon worked in at LG.
Interesting to see true freshman Kyle Downs working with the #2 unit. That tells us he may be the most ready of the incoming lineman and could get a serious look if injuries occur. UND is still rather thin along the offensive line and developing quality depth will be essential.
As has been noted, the entire offensive line is noticeably lighter by design. Waletzko, listed at 6’7- 296 lbs. on the fall roster, by sight appears to have picked up a new gear via a lighter frame. This could be maturity kicking in as well as he played significant reps as a true freshman last season.
To sum it up – the starting OL from left to right will more than likely be Waletzko – Tobin – Rooney – Hergel – Russo.