When a power running team that loves the "I" formation as much as North Dakota State does loses it's starting fullback (who was playing very well), it should be a bigger deal. Losing Brock Robbins for an extended period of time is certainly not a positive for the NDSU offense, that problem, along with a lot of other problems for NDSU football has been (at least partially) fixed by senior back Chase Morlock.
Morlock, a Moorhead native, grew up in the FM metro and has an understanding of what Bison football means to the community.
"It's just a little more special. I've seen this program grow. I saw the 3-8 year. I've seen the bad, so I know it's special."
One of the tenets of Bison football has always been putting the team first over individual accomplishments. Morlock has personified that since the day he walked on campus. Not only does Morlock share the running back duties with three other very talented backs, but he pitches in at fullback, tight end and contributes on most of the special teams units.
The senior excels at it all: running, pass protecting, receiving and pass blocking. "I guess I can't give you the name of my position any more, I just kinda bump all over the place, but it's a lot of fun."
Morlock did stick up for himself once, though. Morlock was a two-way star at Moorhead high, and then-coach Craig Bohl wanted Morlock to play linebacker. Bohl was notorious for his attempts to put his best incoming athletes on the defensive side of the ball. Bohl was the defensive coordinator at Nebraska, and specialized in that side of the ball. Morlock loves running the ball, and earned his right to stay on offense and make plays.
There is no tip-off, or "tell" when Morlock is on the field. He's an excellent run blocker, pass protector and an excellent runner. His ability to lead block allows NDSU to break the huddle and either use Morlock as a traditional fullback, or line him up horizontally and use him as a perimeter blocker. It's in that role that he becomes the most dangerous. When he gets going side to side defenders have to decide whether to take him on as a lead blocker or to cover his ability to run that wheel route.
The wheel route has become Morlock's specialty in the passing game. He's so effective at it that he's often wide open. Sometimes too open. Morlock cites the last NDSU touchdown at Iowa as one of the more difficult. "That ball hung in the air forever."
Don't think for a second that the Bison coaching staff doesn't notice everything the senior does for the program.
"Chase is pretty unique. He has the ability to run, block, catch, tackle.... he's on every (team) thing. We're trying to find more ways to get him snaps on offense, even though it looks like he's out there all the time. If you asked Chase he'd say he could play another twenty snaps. He may have to." said head coach Chris Klieman.
Morlock is a first string player, but it's the depth that he provides all over the field that makes him the glue to hold the Bison offense together. Starting fullback's out? Morlock spills defensive ends on A-gap power. No Bruce Anderson? Give Chase 6-8 carries. Nick DeLuca out for the season, and Aaron Mercadel hurt? The former Moorhead Spud fills in the special teams depth by playing all over the place.
Yes, great teams have stars and All Americans. Not only that, but great teams have good quarterbacks. QBs and guys like Nick DeLuca, Greg Menard and Zack Johnson are important. There is no doubt about it. Great teams also have players like Chase Morlock.
You won't likely be seeing Morlock playing on Sundays. Morlock didn't redshirt, and will finish his undergrad in 2017. He plans on going to grad school and pursuing the exercise science field. Not every college football player can play professional ball. That doesn't necessarily mean the ones that do are the most important players on the squad during their time on campus.
Great teams have players like Chase Morlock.