WDAZ: Your Home Team

Published April 16, 2013, 02:48 PM

UND Defense Looks to Improve From Last Season

The North Dakota defense ranked second in Big Sky total defense last season and is bringing a new attitude into spring practice.

By: Dan Corey, WDAZ

It's a motto for most teams-defense wins championships.

Ben Henson, North Dakota defensive lineman, "We just need to take baby steps and just keep working on the little things because that's going to be the difference between a 3-8 team and competing for a potential Big Sky conference championship."

Ben Henson and the UND defense are entering the spring with a new leader, defensive cord. Josh Kotelnicki, and he is bringing a new attitude with him.

Henson, "We're flying to the ball right now. We have a new thing installed, loafs, they're tracking loafs. So everybody's got to get to the ball and that's just going to build a habit of so you feel like it's not natural if you don't run to the ball."

Last season, UND gave up 235 rushing yards per game, ranking second to last in the Big Sky. Making the run stop priority number one.

Henson, "They don't need to pass if they can just run for 200, 300 yards a game, so that was, as a defense and as a defensive line, we want to be run stoppers first and that's kind of the emphasis we put on this spring."

UND Coach Chris Mussman, "It's a competition every single day out here and our defense probably took some criticism last year and justifiably so last season."

That defense returns six starters, who carry an ignited fire.

Mussman, "They're a proud group and it's a proud tradition here and our guys want to uphold that. So, there has been a concerted effort across the board for us to get better."

UND plays its Spring Game Saturday, April 20th at the Alerus Center.