Beavers open practice with new D-coordinator

During elementary school, Zac Rudolph routinely rode his bike to his father’s office, sat in on meetings with the football coaches and helped arrange practice equipment.

Now, the 26-year-old has his own office across from his father’s and quite a bit more responsibility.

Zac Rudolph joined Minot State University head coach Paul Rudolph’s staff in July as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, a role previously held by Joe Ford. Ford left this summer for a position at the University of South Dakota.

The Beavers opened fall camp Thursday night at Herb Parker Stadium and the younger Rudolph looked comfortable in his new role, shouting instructions and leading players through drills.

“I expect to learn a lot of things myself,” Zac Rudolph said of having a coordinator position for the first time. “I don’t expect to have all the answers and I never will have all the answers. A lot of learning and a lot of adjusting on the fly. We’ve gotta be flexible with some things.”

Both Rudolphs said the transition should be a smooth one for Zac, a former Beaver wideout who served as a graduate assistant at Southern Illinois last year. The FCS Salukis – who also employed new MSU defensive backs coach Marty Rodgers as a graduate assistant – run a 3-4 defensive scheme similar to the one used by the Beavers.

Paul Rudolph said his oldest son is a solid addition to the staff.

“I think it’ll be a lot of fun,” he said. “He’s a good, sharp guy, understands the whole concept of what we’re trying to do. I’m looking forward to it.”

Some of the Beavers’ veterans played with Zac Rudolph for a couple of seasons. But senior linebacker Josh Weidler said they appreciate Rudolph’s knowledge level, and taking instruction from him won’t be an issue.

“I think all the older guys that came in with me, we don’t look at him any different (than other coaches),” Weidler said. “He’s our coach and we have to respect that. He respects that, too. He has great respect for us.”

Defensive line coach Jeff Miller is MSU’s only returning full-time defensive coach.

“I think we’ve got a very good staff, especially chemistry-wise,” Zac Rudolph said. “We’ve all been bonding very well so far, so I’m excited about that.”

Although many faces on the coaching staff are new, the Beavers have players with significant collegiate experience at all 11 defensive positions.

The Beavers go full pads for the first time Monday, with less than three weeks until their Sept. 7 opener at Concordia-St. Paul (Minn.). They’re eager to improve on their 3-8 campaign in 2012 – MSU’s first season as a member of NCAA Division II.

“It’s gonna be awesome just to be flying around with the guys again,” sophomore cornerback Cooper Helm said. “Camp’s a grind, obviously. It’s all day, every day for about a month, but that’s what you need to be better and compete in college football.”

Daniel Allar reports on Minot State University athletics and assists with high school coverage. Follow him on Twitter @DAllar_MDN.