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Published April 01, 2013, 09:01 AM

Bison begin spring practice on heels of back-to-back titles

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota State University football players are strapping on the helmets again, only three months after winning their second straight NCAA Football Championship Subdivision title.

FARGO, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota State University football players are strapping on the helmets again, only three months after winning their second straight NCAA Football Championship Subdivision title.

Spring practice for the Bison was getting under way Monday. Finding backups to starting linebackers Travis Beck, Grant Olson and Carlton Littlejohn will be a priority, Coach Craig Bohl told The Forum newspaper.

All three linebackers made it through the 2012 season despite battling injuries.

"I don't think we can push the envelope like that again," Bohl said.

The Bison return 24 seniors, including quarterback Brock Jensen, with most of them having played since their freshman seasons.

Injuries will keep eight players out of spring drills, but Bohl said the fact that all of them have extensive experience lessens the blow.

The Bison have played into January each of the past two seasons, defeating Sam Houston State in the FCS championship game two years in a row. The Bison this spring will address the issues of coming off a 15-game season and handling the mental hurdle of complacency — just as they had to do last year.

"I think the results beared out," Bohl said. "I thought we did a good job of addressing it. I thought we had good leadership, and we had a hungry football team last year."

Bohl said he does not expect the lingering winter weather and impending Red River flood to hamper plans for spring practice. NDSU now has an all-weather practice turf, and Fargo has had plenty of experience fighting back the Red in recent years.

"I think we're in a better position as an athletic department, and I think the city is in a different position, too," Bohl said.

NDSU begins its 10-game 2013 regular season Aug. 30 against Football Bowl Subdivision school Kansas State.

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