Photo By J. Alan Paul Photography
Running back Lance Dunn has had a buzz around his name since he signed with North Dakota State in 2014.
Besides growing up in Waterloo, Iowa, the backyard of conference rival Northern Iowa, Dunn was part of a record-breaking state champion 4×100 meter relay team and was also a two-time conference track and field champion.
The speed was showcased the first time Bison fans got to see him in action during the 2015 spring game when Dunn had six carries for 76 yards and two touchdowns. That turned into a near-500-yard season as a redshirt freshman.
He fully emerged last year, leading the Bison with nearly 1,000 yards rushing.
His career-high for rushing yards in a game was 145 coming into this season. In the first two games, he ran for 142 yards and 148 yards, totaling five touchdowns.
Bison Illustrated sat down with Dunn to discuss what he’s done to improve his game.
SEEING THE FIELD
Bison Illustrated: It seems in the first couple games you have shown a lot of patience before hitting the hole. Is that something you’ve worked on?
Lance Dunn: “It’s definitely something I’ve been working on. But I feel like it comes naturally, too. That’s just kind of how my game is–to try and stay patient and when the hole opens up, to hit it 100 miles per hour.”
BI: Does that take a lot of discipline? As a speedy back, it must be tough sometimes not to try and get upfield as fast as possible.
LD: “It is hard not to just go full speed. But with our plays and our designs, we have to be patient and let the play develop. And when it opens up, that’s when you hit it.”
BI: Compared to your freshman and sophomore seasons, how are you seeing the field differently when you get the ball in the backfield?
LD: “I think the biggest thing for me is, I’m seeing the defense a lot better than my previous years. I’m understanding defensive schemes and what I should do against those different schemes. And the game is slowing down for me a lot. It’s a lot easier for me now to go out and play and not think so much.”
BI: Some were unsure of the inside run game with (King) Frazier and (Chase) Morlock gone. You and Bruce (Anderson) were more of the speedy backs in years past, so was being productive inside the tackles a point of emphasis coming into the season?
LD: “A lot of people think just because King and Chase are gone we won’t have anyone on the interior. But that’s something I prided myself on in the offseason by adding a few extra pounds. I’ll be taking a lot more hits so that extra weight will help. I just worked on a lot of stuff in the offseason.”
BI: Offensive coordinator and running backs coach Courtney Messingham is also from Waterloo. Does that help you connect with him a little more?
LD: “We’re really coming together and getting closer. Being from the same area, we just connect a little better. He’s a really intelligent guy. I feel I’ve learned a lot from him since he’s been here. I’ve improved my game by just focusing on the smaller details.”
LEAVING HIS LEGACY
BI: Besides the type of offenses that NDSU has historically run, what is it about the Bison that makes them produce great running back after great running back?
LD: “It’s tradition. We play for the dude who was playing before us. We have good running backs every year and you don’t want to be that guy that’s the let off. We want to continue the tradition and we take pride in that and in the run game.”
BI: As far as your own personal goals, is being mentioned along with all those past great running backs a goal of yours when your Bison career is over?
LD: “That’s definitely the goal. After I leave, I want to be the best to ever play here.”