According to Minot State University football coach Paul Rudolph, senior running back Blake Eggl's greatest asset as a player is that he "knows what the heck's happening."
Eggl's preparation was evident in his first couple years at MSU as a special-teams standout, Rudolph said, and has carried over to his role as starting tailback this season. The first-year starter had his best game of the year Saturday against Minnesota, Crookston, running for 109 of the Beavers' season-high 220 rushing yards.
"He knew everything that was supposed to go on in that special teams, and then when it's been his turn to carry the ball, he knows everything that's gonna go on," Rudolph said. "He knows who's gonna block who, how the front should react, which allows him to react a little bit faster."
Minot State University senior running back Blake Eggl (32) looks to run after taking a handoff from freshman quarterback Zac Cunha in the Beavers’ win over Minnesota, Crookston on Saturday at Herb Parker Stadium.
The 5-foot-10, 185-pound Eggl leads the Beavers (2-6) with 459 rushing yards and completed his only pass attempt of the season for a 63-yard touchdown. Rudolph said Eggl rarely takes negative-yardage plays - something the player and coach credit, again, to preparation.
"You've gotta understand defensive fronts and your blocking schemes and obviously the pass protections," Eggl said. "When you know your blocking schemes, it helps you to understand which guys you're running off of."
Eggl's consistent, inside-the-tackles approach is a direct contrast to freshman backup Randel Barber, who has more breakaway speed and likes to get outside. The duo started out slowly, but the Beavers have shown more consistency in the running game during their last couple games.
"It's great to have two capable kids playing running back for you," Eggl said. "A lot of times, one guy will wear down throughout the year and (Barber) does a great job. He brings a lot of speed, he's a guy who can go the distance at any time. When you're throwing different looks at the defense - you got me kind of wiggling inside more and then he wants to hit the edge - I think that throws them off a little bit."
Rudolph said Eggl is an example of a player who paid his dues and is now getting the chance to shine in a primary role.
"He doesn't have breakaway speed, he's not what you would call a power back," Rudolph said. "He's just a good, heads-up football player. He's a guy that you want on your team."
Beavers to host exhibition Friday
The MSU men's basketball team hosts Another Level Blue Angels, a traveling team composed of former college and professional players, at 8 p.m. Friday at the MSU Dome.
MSU coach Matt Murken said the Beavers plan to treat the exhibition like a real game - from establishing a game-day routine, to going through warmup drills a specific way to breaking down tape afterward.
For senior guard Anthony Enriquez, one of four MSU players who redshirted last year, it will be anything but a preseason walk-through.
"It's been a while since I've seen different competition," he said. "I'm tired of playing against just my teammates, so I'm gonna treat it like it's a real game. Seeing different faces just gets you that excitement in getting back into it."
Murken said he doesn't know who will start the game and that the Beavers are "far from knowing" which players will be in the rotation during the regular season.
"It'll be good just to play against some other guys," Murken said. "Our guys have been practicing really hard against each other and we'll have 11 practices in by the time we get to that exhibition so it'll be nice to see some different style of play, some different defensive and offensive schemes and how we react to those."
Women's basketball team hosting scrimmages
MSU's women's basketball squad is hosting two junior college teams for scrimmages Saturday.
Starting at 3 p.m., the Beavers will play Lake Region State College and Williston State College, one after the other.
No score or statistics will be kept; it's simply an opportunity for the teams to practice game-like situations against an unfamiliar opponent.
MSU coach Sheila Green Gerding is curious to see how her team's recently installed Princeton offense works against different competition.
"We kind of need to see it against every type of defense ... and how we're gonna react in different situations," Green Gerding said. "Because we can tell our guys how to play every day in practice, and then when we try to defend it we use our defensive philosophies and we can cheat because we know what's going on."
Green Gerding said veterans Carly Boag, Sacarra Molina, Francesca DeAngelis, Morgan Klose and Lauren Safranski have been the most consistent players in practices thus far, but she expects several newcomers to play extended minutes this season.
One of the biggest questions facing the team in preseason practice is who will emerge as the starting point guard. Green Gerding said junior college transfer Alisha Jones and freshmen Allison Mano, Alex Haley and Amanda Sansaver are all in contention for the spot.