LA CROSSE, WI -

Running back Ben Hertrampf returned to the field Sunday night for UW-La Crosse's first practice of the new season.

"I really want to get out there and hit someone, or maybe run someone over," Hertrampf said. "But we have to feel things out right now."

Hertrampf led the WIAC in rushing in 2011. He injured his left knee four games into last season, missed the rest of the year, and received a medical red-shirt. He's still easing his way back and will split carries with Jared Stan.

"Ben's probably about 80 percent right now," said UW-L Head Coach Joel Dettwiler. "We're getting him out there to keep him busy and we're also making sure he isn't going to overdo it, too."

Dettwiler enters his third season as head coach. The team went 4-6 last season, and he says he's confident the program will continue improving.

"Kids understand what the expectation is," Dettwiler said. "You can name a drill, and they get it. They pop right to it. And I think we've become better coaches because we've worked hard to learn their learning styles."

The Eagles open the season on September 7th against the University of Dubuque. For the first time since 2009, the team plays six games at home.

"This place can be packed," said Hertrampf. "I know we got a lot of good fans and they like to come out and watch us play football. We gotta come out and put on a good show for them."