It has been said again and again there will be regression for the North Dakota State University football team this season. It is natural considering how many players they lost from last season. At some point, that thought is going to wear thin. I have to imagine that point is being reached.
The one thing that former head coach Craig Bohl did so well was take the smallest of slights and turn it into motivation. This team has been bred to feel this way. Having people say that there will be drop off in play from last season is more of an educated guess than a slight.
If you are a sane human, you have to believe this team can't play as well as they did last year. Last year was a once-in-a-lifetime type of year. 2013 won't happen again. For a loooong time, if ever.
This team still should be feared, however, and the massive amount of respect for this team is still present
The Bison were picked as the top team in all of the FCS in a 2014 pre-season coaches poll . I wasn't surprised by the number one ranking but how many first-place votes the Bison received.
The coaches don't foresee a drop-off.
The thought of a drop-off is not in the mind of the players either.
I talked to Christian Dudzik, an NDSU senior safety, before the Spring Game and asked him about the expectations for 2014.
He expected this year's team to be as good as last year. He also felt that if the expectations for this team were not has grand has they have been in year's past, that was a thought coming from outside the team, not from within.
I'm the outside and it is my expectation that this team will not be as good. I don't see this team winning a fourth straight title.
Still, think of what they bring back.
I took a screenshot of the seniors on NDSU's roster from gobison.com.
Those players last year combined for 230 games played, including 108 starts. You also have the team's second leading rusher, leading receiver and four of the five leading tacklers on the team back from last season.
Of course there are questions, as with any team. An inexperienced staring defensive and offensive line. You also have a new quarterback for the first time in four years. Those are not avoidable questions.
They are questions, however, that coaches don't deem large enough to put NDSU anywhere but at the top of the heap. Can the Bison stay there? Just the fact that I ask the question would be deemed as an insult to this group of seniors.
They are not pounding their chest or screaming, "Look at us!"
Maybe we should start. It might serve us well to remember that the historic senior class of 2013 doesn't happen if not for the solid group of seniors from 2014.
You can follow Daniel "Pinto" Gunderson on Twitter at @pintoKFGO or friend him on Facebook. You can hear him on his weekly sports talk show on 740 The Fan and 740thefan.com called Fan Sports Saturday from 8-10 a.m. Pinto is a radio producer and talk show host within the Midwest Communications-Fargo company.