GRAND FORKS, N.D. - For the first time in program history, the North Dakota football team will open a season in the Golden State and the Green and White will be doing so under the direction of first-year head coach Bubba Schweigert.
UND will kickoff off the 2014 season in San Jose, Calif., where the San Jose' State Spartans will await a new-look squad for a 9 p.m. CT start on ESPN3.com.
• Bubba Schweigert was named the 26th head coach in UND football history this past Christmas Eve. His predecessors are a combined 18-7 in their debut games.
• The Aug. 28 season opener equals the second earliest start for a UND team in program history. The Aug. 23 season opener vs. Humboldt State in 2007 is the earliest. UND also opened the 2008 season on Aug. 28 vs. Texas A&M-Kingsville.
• UND is 5-0 all-time in the month of August, but this will be the first time the squad has played on the road in the eighth month of the calendar year.
• The visit to San Jose’ will be the only one to the Golden State for UND this season. The Big Sky’s three California schools (Cal Poly, Sacramento State and UC Davis) are not on the schedule, home or away, in 2014.
• As a Division I program, UND owns a 2-5 record in games played on California soil.
LIVE FROM SAN JOSE’
Radio: UND Radio Network (96.1 FM — Grand Forks) - pregame show at 8 p.m. CT
Audio: UND Radio Network broadcast also available at www.UNDSports.com
Chat: Chat live at www.UNDSports.com
Stats: Live stats available at www.SJSUSpartans.com (Game Tracker)
Twitter: For live scoring updates and game notes follow @UNDFootball
SCHWEIGERT RETURNS TO STEER PROGRAM
Athletics director Brian Faison announced on Christmas Eve that Bubba Schweigert would lead the North Dakota football team and become the program’s 26th head coach. Schweigert is a collegiate coaching veteran who returned to Grand Forks after 10 years away from a program that he helped lead to the Division II national title in 2001 as the defensive coordinator. In all, Schweigert spent 15 seasons as an assistant coach at UND before taking on his first head-coaching job at Division II Minnesota Duluth following a 2003 national runner-up finish by the Green and White. He went 21-20 in four seasons with the Bulldogs and in 2005 led the squad to the program’s first North Central Conference title. He reunited with former UND head coach Dale Lennon at Southern Illinois in 2008. Schweigert spent the previous six seasons as the defensive coordinator in Carbondale before the Zeland native returned to his native state.
UND Vs. THE FOOTBALL BOWL SUBDIVISION
• San Jose’ State will be the seventh FBS opponent UND has faced since making the transition to Division I prior to 2008. UND is still looking for its first win in those games.
• The Spartans will be the third consecutive Mountain West Conference opponent at the FBS level for UND. In 2011, the Green and White nearly pulled off the upset of Fresno State before falling 27-22 to the Bulldogs (Sept. 17). Fresno State was coached at the time by Pat Hill, who is providing the color commentary for this game on ESPN3.com. In 2012, San Diego State had to stop UND on downs late in the fourth quarter to prevent a potential game-tying touchdown drive. The Aztecs held on for the 49-41 victory in that contest (Sept. 15).
• UND is 2-3-1 all-time against current Mountain West members (UNLV, 1-1-1; Nevada, 1-0; Fresno State, 0-1; and San Diego State, 0-1). UND also opens next season against a MWC foe at Wyoming.
• UND is one of 10 Big Sky schools opening its season against a FBS opponent.
OPPONENT PREVIEW: San Jose' State
Head coach Ron Caragher is entering his second season at the helm of the SJSU program. He has 17 returning starters at his disposal from a team that went 6-6 overall and 5-3 in its first eason as Mountain West Conference members.
Two of the starters Caragher will have to replace are quarterback David Fales and wide receiver Chandler Jones. Fales threw 15 of his 33 touchdowns last season to Jones and finished with 4,189 yards through the air. Jones accounted for 1,356 of those yards on 79 receptions.
Running back Jarrod Lawson returns to the backfield after rushing for a team-high 788 yards as a freshman a year ago. He will have to wait two games, however, to leave his imprint on the 2014 season after being suspended for the North Dakota and Auburn games.
Defensively, Christian Tago had a nice freshman season, registering 90 tackles and is the team’s top returner on that side of the ball. He’ll have to help fill the void left by a pair of All-Mountain West First Team performers. Linebacker Keith Smith led the nation in tackles with 159 and cornerback Ben’ Benwikere had 55 tackles to go with five interceptions in 2013.
DID YOU KNOW?
• Last year’s starting quarterback for SJSU ‑- David Fales — was a sixth round selection by the Chicago Bears in the 2014 NFL Draft.
• SJSU also produced former NFL quarterback Jeff Garcia, who played in four NFL Pro Bowls during his career.
HISTORY OF THE SERIES
This will be the first meeting between the two teams on the gridiron.
Bubba Schweigert, UND (1st season)
UND/Overall Record 0-0/21-20
vs. San Jose’ State First Meeting
Ron Caragher, San Jose’ State (2nd season)
San Jose’ State/Overall Record 6-6/50-28
vs. UND First Meeting
MOLLBERG TABBED STARTING QB
In a reversal from last season, Joe Mollberg was named the starter for the season opener at San Jose’ State game by first-year head coach Bubba Schweigert. Mollberg battled classmate Ryan Bartels once again during fall camp, but this time around won the nod to start the opener. Mollberg did lead the sophomore duo with seven starts last season, while Bartels started the first two games and the last two games. “With Joe’s knowledge of the offense and performance in fall camp, we feel that he is best option to start at quarterback for our team,” Schweigert said. “It was a good competition and we made it competitive by splitting up the reps.” Mollberg threw for a season-high 355 yards last season against an Eastern Washington team that comes into the 2014 campaign ranked as the No. 1 team in The Sports Network Football Championship Subdivision’s Top 25 poll.
CAN I SEE YOUR I.D.?
The travel roster for the San Jose’ State game features 61 players and 16 of those are newcomers to the program, including 10 true freshmen. Last season, only four true freshmen played and in the previous four seasons combined, only eight have seen action.
PERMANENT CAPTAINS FOR 2014
Head coach Bubba Schweigert announced the four permanent team captains for the 2014 season at the end of fall camp. The quartet of upperclassmen include offensive lineman Brandon Anderson, fullback Dwayne Pecosky, middle linebacker Will Ratelle and cornerback Alex Tillman. Anderson shares the longest consecutive start streak on the team at 22 with senior linebacker Ben Peters. Pecosky has found a home at fullback after playing both offensive and defensive line earlier in his career. Ratelle will get his first career start at San Jose’ State, while Tillman is one of three FBS transfers on the roster.
FBS FOES BACK ON THE SLATE
After playing at least one game against a FBS opponent in each of the previous four seasons, UND took a one-year break from playing a team from the highest level of college football in 2013. That break is over now and will not end for at least five more seasons as UND has at least one FBS opponent on its schedule from 2014-2018. Here is a look at those opponents for the next five seasons:
2014: Thur, Aug. 28 at San Jose’ State (Mountain West)
2015: Sat., Sept. 5 at Wyoming (Mountain West)
2016: TBA vs. Bowling Green (MAC)
2017: Thur., Aug. 31 at Utah (Pac-12)
2018: Sat., Sept. 1 at Washington (Pac-12)
MCGILL BACK IN THE FOLD
Senior R.J. McGill is back healthy after nearly a year-and-a-half away from the gridiron. McGill participated in spring drills after missing half the 2012 season and all of the 2013 season with a knee injury. The timing could not be better for the receiving corps, who will have to replace more than 95 percent of its receptions from the 2013 season. All-American Greg Hardin (67) and Blair Townsend (29) both graduated, while sophomores Kenny Golladay (69; Northern Illinois) and Jameer Jackson (52; Minnesota State) both opted to transfer after the coaching change. McGill has 75 career catches for 827 yards to his credit. The other two wideouts returning on the squad with catches from last season are Romon Bridges (9 for 56) and Casey Young (2 for 21).
GOING BACK TO CALI
The UND football roster has seven native Californians on it and four of them will get a chance to return to their home state this week. That quartet includes outside linebacker Javen Butler (Pittsburg; 66 miles from San Jose’), defensive end Berto Espinoza (Quincy; 260 miles), tight end Kyle Ruhe (Temecula; 423 miles) and cornerback Chris Brown (340 miles).
on my way back to san jose’
Sophomore running back Cedric Simmons began his collegiate football career at San Jose’ State, enrolling in January of 2012. He spent 18 months with the program, going through a pair of spring practices and sitting out the 2012 season as a grayshirt. Simmons left San Jose’ State following the 2013 spring season and enrolled at Mesa Community College where he rushed for 297 yards and two touchdowns last year. He joined the UND program during the summer and has three seasons of eligibility.
SCHMIDT TO LEAD DEFENSE
Former UND linebacker Eric Schmidt has returned to his alma mater as the program’s defensive coordinator. Schmidt had been on Dale Lennon’s Southern Illinois staff as a linebackers coach and special teams coordinator. Schmidt served under Schweigert in Carbondale and was also a leader on Schweigert’s defenses here at UND, which included serving as a team captain on the 2001 national championship team. Schmidt spent four seasons as the head coach at Crookston High School before coming back to UND to work under Lennon for two seasons (2006-07) before he followed him to Southern Illinois where he worked the past six seasons.
RUDOLPH TO GUIDE OFFENSE
Former Minot State head coach Paul Rudolph was the first official hire for first-year coach Bubba Schweigert. Rudolph will run UND’s offense after a seven-year stint in Minot, but the two gained familiarity opposing each other as North Central Conference rivals when Rudolph was at St. Cloud State as the offensive coordinator (2000-06) and Schweigert was the defensive coordinator at UND and head coach at Minnesota Duluth.
A NEW ERA LEADS TO ROSTER SHAKE UP
Anytime a change is made in the leadership of a football program, roster alterations are sure to follow and the 2014 North Dakota squad will have no fewer than 35 new players on it. Whether it was gradaution or players transferring, head coach Bubba Schweigert has 25 letterwinners and 13 starters to replace from the 2013 team. To fill those openings, Schweigert has not left any stones unturned as those 35 new faces include incoming high school recruits (24), JUCO transfers (8) and Division I FBS transfers (3).
SHAUGS, GARMAN help MAKE UP VETERAN BACKFIELD
With three-year starter Jake Miller now graduated, the opportunity for seniors Adam Shaugabay and Jer Garman is prime at the running back position. Shaugabay is no stranger to the end zone having turned eight of his 45 carries last season into touchdowns, but neither he nor Garman have experienced a heavy workload thus far in their collegiate careers. For Shaugabay, those eight rushing scores were tops on the team, but most came in goal-line situations, while Garman was a change of pace back who also netted 45 carries a season ago. He averaged 3.5 yards per tote and his 513 career rushing yards are the most by any of the backs on the roster. Shaugabay and Garman will not be handed a starting role, however, as newcomer Cedric Simmons — who spent 18 months with the San Jose’ State program — will also be in the mix for carries along with redshirt freshman Patrick Sharp.
ANDERSON ANCHORS O-LINE
Junior Brandon Anderson has started all 22 contests for UND over the past two seasons. He is the only offensive lineman who can make that claim and is coming off a season where he earned All-Big Sky honorable mention honors. He started all 11 games as a redshirt freshman, making eight at left guard, two at right guard and one at right tackle. Anderson and classmate Sean Meehan anchored both guard spots last season, starting all 11 games at left and right guard, respectively.
Three seniors on the 2014 squad will be playing on a different side of the ball than they did as juniors. Tyrhe Ivery returns to wide receiver after playing solely at defensive back and on special teams a year ago. Ivery is no stranger to the position, having played wideout as a redshirt freshman in 2011 when he caught 14 passes for 116 yards and two touchdowns. His best game at the position came in the 2011 season finale when UND rallied to beat South Dakota to share the Great West title. Ivery had eight grabs for 48 yards and his first two collegiate touchdowns in the 35-34 victory. As a sophomore in 2012, Ivery played on both sides of the ball, catching two passes for 26 yards and a touchdown, while adding a career-high eight tackles. Also switching sides of the ball this season are classmates Shea Walker and Ben Henson. In fact, the duo are trading positions. Walker started seven games at center as a junior, but will man the nose guard position in 2014. Henson started all 11 games at nose guard, but is looking to secure the starting center spot in fall camp.
STANDOUT WIDEOUTS IN NFL TRAINING CAMPS
Bellevue, Neb., native Greg Hardin spent the past four seasons chasing down Weston Dressler in the UND record books. Hardin did not catch Dressler in all of the receiving categories, but the duo is ranked one-two in a majority of the top 10 lists. Throughout NFL Training Camp, arguably the two best wide receivers in UND history have been battling it out, hoping to share a NFL field together. Hardin signed a rookie free agent contract with the Denver Broncos, while Dressler reached a two-year agreement with the Kansas City Chiefs after six standout seasons in the Canadian Football League for the Saskatchewan Roughriders. Unfortunately, both were let go by their respective teams on Monday morning. Both should have options to resume their professional careers by catching on with another NFL team or in Canada.
Sweden native William James’ time as the lone European on the North Dakota football roster ended in May when Amsterdam native Dylan Bakker signed on to play for UND after a successful two-year stint at West Hills College in Coalinga, Calif. Bakker is expected to compete for playing time at inside linebacker after earning All-Golden Gate Conference First Team honors in 2013. James, who was a special teams contributor a year ago as a sophomore, earned the starting free safety spot after putting together a nice fall camp.
NDSU RIVALRY RENEWED
University of North Dakota Athletic Department officials announced on Aug. 22 that a contract has been signed for its football program to renew its rivalry with in-state foe North Dakota State. The contract calls for a pair of gridiron matchups that will be the first between the two programs as Division I foes and take place at Gate City Bank Field in Fargo on Sept. 19, 2015 and Sept. 7, 2019.
“Our football student-athletes deserve the chance to play against North Dakota State and the game has been off the schedule for too long,” Head Coach Bubba Schweigert said. “It is time to do whatever it takes to get the game back and if that means going down to Fargo a couple of times to renew this great rivalry, then that is something the football program, along with our administration, decided is necessary.”
UND owns a 62-45-3 advantage in the all-time series that dates back to 1894. The Green and White won the last meeting between the two programs in 2003 — a 28-21 decision in overtime. Both teams have made the full transition from NCAA Division II status to Division I since the last meeting 11 seasons ago. NDSU started its transition in 2004, while UND began its in 2008.
“I want our football players to have the full experience of being a UND football player and, to me, that includes playing North Dakota State. True rivalry games are a big part of college football,” Schweigert added. “You see Iowa State playing Iowa, Michigan State playing Michigan, Auburn playing Alabama and so on. There is no reason North Dakota and North Dakota State should not be playing.
“As I traveled around the region talking to some of our football alums, one of their fondest memories is playing against our rival North Dakota State. Too many young men have missed out on that opportunity over the last 11 years.”
UND will receive a cash guarantee of $125,000 for the 2015 contest and $140,000 for the 2019 contest.
The 2014 roster features a trio of players that transferred from FBS programs. Sophomore nose guard Jordan Hinojosa was the first to commit after spending the 2013 season redshirting with the Minnesota Gophers. He spent his first collegiate season at Coffeyville Community College in 2012 and has three seasons to play at UND. Senior cornerback Alex Tillman spent his first four seasons at Houston. He redshirted in 2010 before playing the 2011-13 seasons as a reserve defensive back for the Cougars. Junior linebacker Marcus Jenkins-Moore missed his only season at Kansas with an injury in 2013, but has two more to play after arriving in Grand Forks just over a week into fall camp. Jenkins-Moore played two seasons at Pierce College before joining the Jayhawks’ program.
The last UND player to transfer in from that level was quarterback Braden Hanson. The left-hander played one season for UND after spending three seasons plus a redshirt campaign at North Carolina. Hanson suffered a broken leg in his UND debut, but came back for the second half of the season and a NCAA record for left-handed quarterbacks by throwing for 660 yards in a wild win over Montana. The passing total was also a Big Sky and UND single-game record.
FROM THE DID YOU KNOW CATEGORY
• The last time UND opened the season with a road victory was in 2006 when a Dale Lennon-led squad defeated Central Washington 28-14. UND has won its last three season openers, which were all played on the turf at the Alerus Center.
• After playing nine of its 11 regular season games in domed venues a season ago, UND will play all six of its road games outdoors in 2014.
• Between newcomers and redshirt freshmen, up to 23 players could make their UND debuts on Thursday at San Jose’ State.
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