Brent Bolte's psychological approach highlights Part 2 of Bemidji State football notebook

Aug. 22—BEMIDJI — Before he was a college football coach, Bemidji State head coach Brent Bolte played linebacker and studied at Division III Cornell College in Iowa. His teammates included current Wisconsin defensive coordinator Mike Tressel and Wisconsin outside linebackers/special teams coach Matt Mitchell.

Along with being a surprising fount of college football coaches, Cornell presented Bolte a degree path in physical education and psychology, two topics essential for understanding and communicating with young student-athletes.

"We're all going to fail," Bolte said. "That's just a given. The point of it (is) you can't fear it and it can't be something that you're worried about. So go out there and let it rip. What else are you going to do? You're going to stand there and be frozen in the moment. So we tell our guys, 'Hey, take a deep breath. Go out and do your assignment. And if that happens to be wrong, we'll correct it on film. Just don't make the same mistakes two practices in a row.'"

Instead of paralysis via excessive analysis, Bolte hopes his younger players will emulate their elder Bemidji State counterparts by playing aggressively and confidently. Missteps can be addressed afterward.

"That's the deal, getting the guys flying around and having fun," he said. "If they're so worried about making mistakes, nothing good is going to come out of it. So take a deep breath, and go play football."

Quarterback Brandon Alt has been at Bemidji State for seven seasons.

Alt originally enrolled at BSU in 2017. He redshirted that season, then played in two games in 2018 before suffering a season-ending ACL tear.

In 2019, it happened again, this time after one game. Two consecutive ACL tears gave way to a canceled season in 2020.

Finally, in 2021, Alt remained healthy the whole year and led the Beavers to their first NCAA Tournament. He did it again in 2022.

This year, he's leading from the front as a seasoned captain and the head of an exceptionally veteran, mature group of Bemidji State seniors.

"They do a great job of resonating our culture within the program," Bolte said of his super seniors. "We don't usually have to deal with problems here at BSU. It's handled in the locker room, handled by our leaders, which is a great thing to have as a head coach. You don't have a lot of headaches laying on your door, so (we're) very appreciative of our upperclassmen.

"You look at our two-deep, it's mostly seniors, six-years, fifth-year juniors. So we're an older team, which is fun. So they're accustomed to how we practice, how we do things here at Bemidji State and what our expectations are."

Alt has known many of his teammates for the better part of a decade, and in his final go-around at BSU, he's committed to maximizing their collective championship window. After being named the NSIC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, he deflected credit to his compatriots for helping him achieve the award.

"It was an honor. It was a great honor," Alt said. "Especially with the past that I've had, it's a very blessed thing to have. But like I told these guys, it's not just me. Everybody played a part in that. The O-line to receivers to running backs, and even defense and special teams. We're all a collective group, and accolades come after. It just happened to be (me), and so it's a blessing."

Linebacker/nickel Max Buduris is another sixth-year on a Bemidji State defense full of them. The Beavers bring back plenty of experience from a unit that was much improved in 2022, finishing second in the NSIC in points per game allowed.

With another year together before many of them move on, the urgency is there for BSU to accomplish something special in 2023.

"I don't think there is a ceiling (for us)," Buduris said. "However we put in the work, hopefully we come out here and compete at an extremely high level every day, and (the result) exceeds all our expectations throughout the whole season. Focus on today, and it's all going to work out."

Bemidji State has to replace

defensive end Zollie Kaplan,

who was named

an All-American

last season. But the Beavers' defensive front is deep, and BSU believes in the core group it possesses at all three levels of the defense. Despite hiring a

new coordinator in Joe Ford,

Bemidji State plans to have many schematic similarities.

"The guys that we lost were some great veterans," Buduris said. "(But) the guys that are filling in their positions are also veterans, guys that we've been playing with for years. And the defense is staying the same, so guys have been playing in (this) defense. Obviously, some things are going to change, but for the most part, there's older guys, and they're good at handling change. And (we're) working those things out and getting back in our groove."

The Beavers picked up

another lofty prognostication

on Monday, this time coming in

at No. 10

in the Preseason Top 25 Poll. BSU has now cracked the top 10 in two of three preseason polls released, ranking

No. 8

in Lindy's College Football Magazine and

No. 11

according to the American Football Coaches Association.

These towering projections are new to Bemidji State. In some cases, they are breaking records. The AFCA poll, for one, has never had the Beavers ranked so highly to start a season.

Alt was named

the NSIC Preseason Offensive Player of the Year after winning the regular season award in 2022. Buduris was named Bemidji State's Player to Watch, indicating that more conference honors could be in store for a player tabbed First-Team All-NSIC last fall.

But BSU has been in this position before, more or less. It's simply a greater degree of hype, and Bemidji State isn't balking at the soaring predictions of others.

"Whatever people have set for us, we have our own expectations," Buduris said. "We're trying to come out here and compete every day, win every day on defense and offense. And if we do a good job of doing that, then things are going to take care of themselves during the season."