FARGO — North Dakota State started fall practice with six healthy running backs. It’s been a revolving door of health, but the Bison are down to three heading into the stretch run of the season.
Out for the foreseeable future is junior Lance Dunn, who will be sidelined four to six weeks with a torn labrum in his hip. Dunn was hurt late in the game two weeks ago against Western Illinois, but Klieman said further analysis in the last week indicated he will not need surgery.
“He will not likely play this season,” Klieman said. “Based on that time table, if we’re fortunate to make the playoffs, it would still be touch and go.”
In for the Saturday clash at South Dakota State is true freshman Seth Wilson, who had his redshirt pulled last week against Northern Iowa. Wilson was in for one play, but will most likely see more of an extended role against the Jackrabbits.
Junior Bruce Anderson will start at running back and is expected to get the majority of the carries. Sophomore Ty Brooks returned to the lineup last week and showed he has recovered from a hamstring injury.
Sophomore Demaris Purifoy is out for the season with an ACL injury to his knee and freshman Adam Cofield will still be sidelined a few weeks, Klieman said, with his knee injury. The junior Dunn was having his best season averaging 7.9 yards per carry and was on pace to break the school’s single season record for touchdowns.
“He was having a great season, I feel awful for Lance,” Klieman said. “He’s not the first guy it happened to and hopefully it will be the last. That’s the unfortunate part of this game. Bruce, Ty and Seth will now have to carry the load.”
Klieman said the fact Dunn will not have surgery bodes well for a full return to health, whenever that may be. He pointed to former tight end Luke Albers and junior tight end Nate Jenson recovering from similar injuries.
“Those guys came back fine,” he said.
The Bison retained their No. 2 ranking in the FCS top 25 coaches poll. They lead the Missouri Valley Football Conference at 5-0 and are 8-0 overall. The Jackrabbits are 3-2 in the league and 6-2 overall.
They stumbled early in the league losing 19-7 at Youngstown State and 38-18 to Northern Iowa. But SDSU has rebounded to score 62 against Missouri State and 52 against Western Illinois.
“They are electric, they have an explosive offense,” Klieman said.
Klieman said linebacker Chris Board, who injured his knee against Youngstown State three weeks ago, ran on Sunday with the NDSU training staff and is expected to try and practice this week. It would help the Bison with depth with starting linebacker Jabril Cox having to sit out the first half after being flagged for targeting against UNI.
“And that could maybe help us on special teams,” Klieman said.