Grand Forks, N.D. - The North Dakota football will cap a stretch of back-to-back road games for the first time this season on Saturday when the Green and White travel to Flagstaff, Ariz., for a Big Sky tilt at Northern Arizona.
The Lumberjacks are riding the momentum of a three-game winning streak after picking up a big road win at Cal Poly last week. UND will try to halt that momentum, while stopping a three-game skid of their own after seeing a fourth-quarter lead slip away at Portland State a week ago.
TAILGATE AT NAU
UND fans out in Arizona are encouraged to tailgate with fellow UND alumni, family and friends prior to the NAU game. Hear from UND Athletics Director Brian Faison and other UND Athletics staff members prior to the game. Enjoy complimentary tailgate appetizers and a great atmosphere full of UND green. The tailgate spot is P64 and free parking is available in section P62.
• The North Dakota football team will look to snap a three-game losing streak against a Northern Arizona team that will put its own three-game winning streak on the line.
• UND is also eyeing its first win a series that has seen only three games be played since 1967. NAU has won each of those with the closest encounter coming last season in Grand Forks when the schools met as conference foes for the first time.
• NAU held on for the win in a high-scoring affair that saw the Lumberjacks spoil UND’s homecoming with a 45-38 victory over the home team. The teams combined for 949 yards of total offense in a contest that was tied 17-17 at halftime.
• UND receivers Greg Hardin (8-83) and Jameer Jackson (6-105) each had two receiving touchdowns.
• The Lumberjacks will be the fifth ranked opponent UND has played this season as NAU found itself in the No. 14 position in both The Sports Network and FCS Coaches’ polls released this week.
• The trip to Flagstaff will be the first for UND since playing the Lumberjacks in 1985. NAU shutout the visitors from Grand Forks in that contest, 41-0. NAU also won the first meeting between the schools in 1967, 39-10, at Lumberjack Stadium.
• These two teams have played four common opponents thus far with UND owning a 1-3 record against Montana (L, 55-17), Montana State (L, 63-20), at Idaho State (W, 28-25) and Sacramento State (L, 31-7), while NAU is 3-1 against that quartet with wins over Montana (34-16), Sacramento State (39-38), Idaho State (39-30) and a loss to Montana State (36-7).
LIVE FROM FLAGSTAFF
Television: Live on Fox Sports North (Locally Channel 28 and 623; HD)
Video: Watch Big Sky (www.WatchBigSky.com - FREE webcast)
Radio: 96.1 FM — Grand Forks — Pregame at 3 p.m. PT
Audio: Radio broadcast also available at www.UNDSports.com
Chat: Chat live at www.UNDSports.com
Stats: Live stats available at www.NAUAthletics.com
Twitter: For live scoring updates and game notes follow @UNDFootball
NATIONAL COLLEGE FOOTBALL DAY
Nearly 100 spectators gathered around a field in New Brunswick, N.J., on Nov. 6, 1869 to witness a game unlike anything seen before. On that day, Rutgers defeated Princeton, 6-4, but more importantly, the players left a lasting legacy that would evolve into the great spectacle of intercollegiate football. To honor the birth of an American institution, the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic created a holiday to be held annually on the first Saturday of November. For more information, visit www.ATTCottonBowl.com.
HOME RUN HARDIN
Senior Greg Hardin collected his 13th career 100-yard receiving game at Portland State last Saturday and a good chunk of his eight-catch, 128-yard day came on one play. On UND’s second possession, Hardin took a quick pass from redshirt freshman Joe Mollberg, used a great block from wideout Kenny Golladay and raced 80 yards past the Viking defense for the 30th receiving touchdown of his career. That ties him with Jordan Harris of Bryant for the active career lead among FCS players. The 80-yard catch-and-run was the sixth play of his career that went for 80 or more yards (three receptions, three kick off returns). Hardin also ranks fourth among FCS players with 190 career catches - a total that moved him into sole possession on UND’s all-time charts as well for all games (includes UND’s Division II playoff era).
As the season has progressed, the North Dakota defense is showing signs of improving on a consistent basis. After yielding a combined 1,667 yards of total offense (555.6 ypg/51.0 ppg) in losses to ranked foes South Dakota State (455), Montana (609) and Montana State (603), the defense has only allowed 1,549 yards (387.3 ypg/26.3 ppg) in its last four games. In the last game at Portland State, UND held the Vikings’ offense, which was ranked third in the FCS at 537.0 ypg, to just 392 yards and 14 points. Those two touchdowns by PSU came late in the fourth quarter off drives that started on UND’s own 15-yard line following miscues in the punting game. With a 10-0 lead entering the third quarter, it also marked the first time since joining the Big Sky (13 games) that UND had held an opponent scoreless through the first half.
TWO OF THE BEST
Two of the top all-around players in the Big Sky Conference will be on the Walkup Skydome field on Saturday. UND senior wide receiver Greg Hardin leads the Big Sky in all-purpose yards (1,509/188.6 ypg), while NAU running back Zach Bauman is second in that category (1,200/150.0 ypg). Hardin, who leads all active Big Sky players with 13 100-yard receiving games, has amassed 761 receiving yards, 740 kickoff return yards and eight rushing yards to get to his total. Bauman leads the Big Sky in rushing yards (975) and has added 225 receiving yards (34 catches). He has a league-high 22 100-yard rushing games to his credit.
GOODMAN ANCHORS D
Senior Garrison Goodman shared the team lead in tackles with 10 against Sacramento State (Oct. 19), marking the fourth time in his seven games he has done that this season. Despite missing the Montana game (Sept. 14), Goodman leads the team in tackles at 53 and has twice reached double figures in games this season (12 vs. MSU).
BENNETT RACKING UP THE SACKS
Senior Dominique Bennett has collected four sacks in the past four games and leads UND with a career-high five on the season. Bennett’s also the team’s active leader in that category with 13 and is only half-a-sack away from entering UND’s all-time list for regular season sacks. He had a team-high 4.5 during his junior season in 2012. Bennett is currently fourth on the team with 40 tackles, which include a team-high 7.5 tackles for loss.
The numbers are down a bit from the previous seasons, but the North Dakota special teams unit has been one of the top-kick blocking groups in the FSC since moving up the Division I level in 2008. Redshirt freshman Mike Edwards picked up his second of the season by blocking an extra-point against Sacramento State (Oct. 19) and Ben Henson netted the first of his career at Portland State (Oct. 26) to bring UND’s season total to three. Edwards has two blocks on the season and the UND special teams unit has blocked 36 over the past five-plus seasons. Junior center Shea Walker is the team’s active career leader with five, while senior linebacker Cordero Finley has three.
KUKSA OUT FOR THE SEASON
Head coach Chris Mussman announced on Wednesday that freshman safety Cam Kuksa would be sidelined for the remainder of the season with a neck injury. The injury occurred at Portland State last week - a game that Kuksa finished with a career-high 13 tackles. Kuksa was inserted into the starting lineup four games ago and totalled 33 tackles in those starts. Kuksa, who missed the opener, moved up to second on the team in total tackles with that performance at PSU. Kuksa was the only true freshman to start a game for UND this season. Fellow classmate Dustin Iverson is the only true freshman playing on offense. The fullback had the first two receptions of his career vs. Sacramento State, netting eight yards on both of those catches. Defensive tackle Marcus Cheatom has earned a spot on the defensive line rotation and has four tackles in seven appearances.
Sophomore Jameer Jackson pulled off a rare double vs. Sacramento State. As a wide receiver, Jackson led the team in both receiving (60) and rushing yards (29). Jackson had seven catches and now leads the team with 39 and ranks second in the Big Sky with a 6.5 rpg. Jackson is third on the team with 86 rushing yards, averaing 4.8 yards per carry on his 17 rushes. Jackson was limited to only first-half action at Portland State (Oct. 26) due to an injury.
After playing its first outdoor game of the season last Saturday in Portland (Oct. 26), UND will return to the familiar confines of indoor football in Flagstaff. In all, UND will play nine of its 11 games indoors this season - the most in the history of the program. UND moved into the Alerus Center prior to the 2001 season, but had never gone this long into a season without playing an outdoor game. UND closes out its seven-game home schedule next Saturday vs. Northern Colorado (Nov. 9). The team’s regular-season finale is an outdoor tilt at UC Davis (Nov. 16).
Sophomore safety Devin Coyle is starting to train for quite the adventure and it’s all for a good cause. Coyle and two of his friends from his hometown of Mandan, N.D. will take some time this summer to bike from North Dakota’s capital of Bismarck all the way to St. Petersburg, Fla. The trio are embarking on the 2,000-mile trek and Bike2Believe Tour to bring awareness and raise support for cancer. Coyle and his friends plan to launch a website to track their progress and collect donations.
RED ZONE SUCCESS
North Dakota has converted 20 of its 22 opportunities inside the opponent’s red zone (20-yard line) into points this season. The conversion rate of 90.9 percent is tops in the Big Sky and sixth overall in the FCS. Sixteen of those 20 scores have gone for touchdowns. UND was a perfect 14-for-14 through the first four games before coming up empty on its first trip inside the red zone at Idaho State on Oct. 5. UND went 1-for-1 inside the red zone against Portland State in its last outing.
Junior running back Adam Shaugabay has carried the football only 23 times this season, but the Warroad, Minn., native has found the end zone on six of those attempts. Shaugabay’s six rushing touchdowns lead the team and are tied for fifth in the Big Sky. For his career, Shaugabay has eight rushing touchdowns on 45 attempts. His 36 points are tied with Greg Hardin for the second most on the team, trailing only placekicker Zeb Miller for the team lead in that category. Miller has 41 points on five field goals and 22 extra-points.
MAGIC CARPET RIDE
• UND is 67-18 in 12 seasons at the Alerus Center, including a 10-0 mark in the Division II playoffs. UND has gone undefeated in the building during a season three times (2003, 2004 and 2006).
• Head coach Chris Mussman is 21-13 all-time at UND’s home facility and improved to 4-0 in season openers at the Alerus thanks to the 69-10 victory over Valparaiso last Thursday.
• In those 21 home wins under Mussman’s guidance, UND is averaging 39.4 ppg and the team is 18-1 at home when scoring 30 or more points. The only setback occurred last season when Northern Arizona defeated UND 45-38 on Oct. 13.
DOME SWEET DOME
UND will play nine of its 11 games indoors during the 2013 season, including the first seven contests. Five of those will be at the Alerus Center and UND did not play an away game until edging Idaho State 28-25 on Oct. 5. The Bengals play their home games inside as well at Holt Arena. The only two outdoor games on the schedule are an Oct. 26 matchup at Portland State and the regular-season finale at UC Davis on Nov. 16. UND has a road game at Northern Arizona, who also plays their home games indoors at the Walkup Skydome.
North Dakota is averaging a 24.2 points per game through eight contests and has seen each unit on the team score multiple touchdowns. The offense has scored 20 touchdowns, but both the special teams and defense have also found the end zone. The special teams scored twice in the season-opening win over Valpo thanks to a 90-yard kickoff return from Greg Hardin and a 64-yard punt return by Kenny Golladay. Hardin provided the third special teams touchdown of the season at Idaho State with a 99-yard kickoff return. Meanwhile, the defense has found pay dirt twice this season with fumble returns for scores against Montana State and Idaho State.
MILLER ECLIPSES 2,000-YARD MARK
Senior running back Jake Miller moved into the top 10 for career regular season rushing touchdowns at UND after scoring three in the season-opening win vs. Valparaiso. Miller has added two more rushing scores since then and is currently tied for fifth on the all-time charts with 23. Miller, who only had two rushing scores a season ago, also posted his sixth 100-yard rushing game against Valpo, carrying 17 times for 108 yards. Miller’s last rushing touchdown was a seven-yard scamper against Idaho State where he rushed 17 times for 61 yards and surpassed the 2,000-yard plateau for his career. Miller now has 2,104 rushing yards and needs 52 to reach UND’s top 10 in career regular-season rushing yardage.
MOLLBERG GOES THE DISTANCE
For the first time this season against Idaho State (Oct. 5), one of UND’s two redshirt freshman quarterbacks went the distance, taking each snap from under center. After splitting reps for the most part in the opening four games, Joe Mollberg took all 63 snaps in the win over the Bengals and has not missed a snap since then. Mollberg is completing 58.9 percent of his passes (132-for-224) and has thrown for 1,590 yards (fourth among FCS freshman).
MILLER ON MITCHELL AWARD WATCH LIST
Senior Zeb Miller was one of 35 placekickers throughout all levels of college football to be honored for his performance both on and off the field during the first two months of the season. Miller, who went 6-for-9 on field goals and 23-for-24 on PATs in UND’s first eight games, is a candidate for the Fred Mitchell Award. The award is given annually to the nation’s top place-kicker based on performance on the field and in the community. Miller has made 42 field goals during his career, which ranks fourth among active players in the FCS and fourth on UND’s all-time career charts.
Senior Greg Hardin and sophomore Kenny Golladay have the UND kickoff and punt return teams ranked near the top of the Big Sky standings through eight games. Hardin is averaging 25.5 yards per kickoff return, which is third in the league. He is the only Big Sky player and one of six in the FCS with a pair of kickoff returns for touchdowns this season. Golladay is averaging a league-best 12.8 yards per punt return and had a 64-yard touchdown in the season opener. His 115 punt return yards are the most in the Big Sky as well. UND is the only team averaging more than double-figures on each punt return. The 64-yard return by Golladay is the longest in the Big Sky this season.
The North Dakota defense entered the Idaho State game having forced just two turnovers (fumbles) through four games, but the unit doubled that total against the Bengals. The four forced miscues are the most for a UND defense since collecting three interceptions and a fumble in a 2011 (Oct. 29) contest at Northern Colorado.
Senior Chavon Mackey, who was starting at cornerback for the first time this season, collected the first interception of the season for UND in the second quarter and added his second of the game in the third. Mackey only had two interceptions in 35 career games entering the contest. Both of Mackey’s interceptions came just a play and two plays, respectively, following a UND turnover.
Sophomore Dayo Idowu was in on the next two turnovers, picking off Justin Arias in the third quarter, then deflecting a pitch in the fourth quarter that resulted in linebacker Ben Peters falling on the eventual game-winning touchdown in the end zone. For Idowu, the interception and forced fumble were both the first of his career.
FOUR TRUE FRESHMEN SEE ACTION
Three true freshmen made their collegiate debuts in the season-opening win over Valparaiso and four total have played in the first seven games. Fullback Dustin Iverson played on special teams and carried the ball twice for three yards vs. Valpo. Defensive tackle Marcus Cheatom also saw action in a reserve role and had two tackle assists. Freshman punter Mitch Meindel made the box score, but for duties other than punting. Meindel only went back to punt once in the opener, but instead of punting, he took off running after an errant snap. Meindel gained a first down on the play after scampering for 17 yards. Freshman safety Cam Kuksa was suspended for the opener for a violation of team rules, but made a solo tackle in his first collegiate action vs. SDSU and added four in the loss to Montana. Kuksa has since started four games and ranks second on the team with 46 tackles.
In the last three seasons, only four UND players have played during their true freshman season: Jake Miller (RB; 2010), R.J McGill (WR; 2010), Jer Garman (RB; 2011) and Kenny Golladay (WR; 2012).
LEE BOHNET HONORED
Longtime UND sports information director Lee Bohnet had the press box at the Alerus Center named after him in a special ceremony held Saturday morning at the current home of UND football. Bohnet, who passed away in 1999 after a long illness, became the first sports information director (SID) in UND history after he was hired by athletic director Glenn “Red” Jarrett in 1953. A World War II veteran, Bohnet worked in the SID role for 35 years until his retirement in 1988. Known for his in-depth researching and undaunted loyalty to the Fighting Sioux, Bohnet is a member of the UND Athletics, College Sports Information Directors of America and North Central Conference Hall of Fames. He wrote the book “A Century of UND Sports”, which chronicled the history of the athletic department’s first 100 years of existence and found no greater joy than when UND defeated its fiercest rivals on the gridiron, court or ice. Bohnet was also the co-creator of the Potato Bowl USA game that has been annual affair for UND since 1966. He will have a plaque placed in the Alerus Center press box to celebrate his legacy as one of the best SIDs in the history of college athletics.
GROUNDBREAKING FOR UND ATHLETICS HIGH PERFORMANCE CENTER
A groundbreaking ceremony for the UND Athletics High Performance Center was held on Thursday, Sept. 5 at the outdoor practice field, south of Memorial Stadium. The facility will serve as an indoor training facility and be available for each of UND’s 19 athletic teams and includes a 100-yard artificial turf field, a 300-meter, eight-lane track, spectator seating, a state-of-the-art academic center, a sports medicine facility and a weight room.
PERMANENT CAPTAINS FOR 2013
Senior linebacker Garrison Goodman and senior wide receiver Blair Townsend were voted permanent team captains for the upcoming 2013 season. Goodman appeared in only seven games a season ago, but still ranked fourth on the team in tackles. Townsend had his most productive season to date, catching 27 passes for 289 yards and two touchdowns.
MCGILL TO REDSHIRT
Head coach Chris Mussman announced at the end of fall camp that senior wide receiver R.J. McGill will take his redshirt this season and have one season of eligibility left in 2014. McGill suffered a season-ending knee injury vs. Cal Poly in the fifth game of the 2012 campaign and had to have another minor procedue done to his knee in late August.
WHERE IT RANKED
The UND offense scored its most points since moving to the Division I era in the 69-10 season-opening victory over Valpo. It was also the most points scored by UND since defeating Morningside 69-0 in 1972.
• The 69 points were also the third most scored by a FCS team and most by a Big Sky team during the opening weekend.
• Senior wideout Greg Hardin’s 163 receiving yards were the fourth most among FCS receivers in the opening weekend and his 253 all-purpose yards were the second most.
• Hardin’s 90-yard kickoff return was one of four scored in the FCS.
• Sophomore wideout Kenny Golladay’s 64-yard punt return was one of five scored in the FCS. It was Golladay’s first career punt return.
• Redshirt freshman Ryan Bartels pass efficiency was 259.2, which was tops in the Big Sky and would have been tops in the FCS, but he fell short of the minimum requirement of 15 attempts (10-for-12).
Head coach Chris Mussman has two new coordinators calling plays on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball in 2013. Long-time coordinators Greg Breitbach (offensive) and Mike Mannausua (defensive) left the program following the 2012 season. Breitbach is now the head coach at Millersville (Pa.) University - a Division II institution, while Mannausau took over as the Assistant A.D. and executive director of the Champions Club at UND. Their replacements weren’t hard to find, in fact both were just down the hallway as assistant head coach and linebackers coach Josh Kotelnicki was elevated to defensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Luke Schleusner takes over the reigns as offensive coordinator. Kotelnicki and Schleusner are no strangers to the program as both were key contributors to the 2001 Division II national championship won by UND and both have been on Mussman’s coaching staff. Kotelnicki is entering his eighth season overall on the coaching staff, while Schleusner begins his third. Safeties coach Benny Boyd will take over as the special teams coordinator – a post that Kotelnicki held since the 2008 season.
After landing on The Sports Network All-America Third Team last season (65 catches, 1,145 yards and 15 TDs), senior wide receiver Greg Hardin garnered plenty of preseason accolades and deservedly so. Hardin was on five preseason All-America Teams (Beyond Sports Network, 1st Team; The Sports Network, 2nd Team, Phil Steele’s, 2nd Team WR and KR, USA College Football; 1st Team and College Sports Journal; 2nd Team). Hardin is also one of 41 FCS players on the Senior Bowl watch list for an invite to that prestigious event and College Football Performance Awards officials have him on their watch lists for wide receiver and kickoff returner of the year accolades. Classmate Zeb Miller was named to the CFPA’s watch list for the organization’s Placekicker of the Year Award and is on the Fred Mitchell watch list for a similar honor. He was also named a preseason All-American by Phil Steele’s (3rd Team) and College Sports Journal (Third Team).
NO FBS GAMES IN 2013
After playing at least one game against a FBS opponent in each of the last four seasons, UND will take a one-year break from playing a team from the highest level of college football. The 2013 schedule worked out to where UND will have seven home games, including non-conference games against Valparaiso, South Dakota State and Montana. UND will resume playing FBS teams in 2014 and has at least one of those opponents scheduled through the 2018 season. Three of UND’s last five games against FBS foes have been decided by eight points or less, including a 49-41 loss at San Diego State in 2012.
2014: Sat., Aug. 30 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. 15 at Washington (Pac-12)
FCS teams are allowed to play 12 games this season, but UND and Northern Arizona are the only two in the Big Sky that opted to play 11. The remaining 11 league teams all have full schedules. Like UND, NAU is also playing a non-conference game against a Big Sky foe when the Lumberjacks play at UC Davis on Sept. 14.
COACHING STAFF SHUFFLE
With the elevations of Josh Kotelnicki to defensive coordinator and Luke Schleusner to offensive coordinator, head coach Chris Mussman had some openings to fill on his coaching staff. He filled those by hiring Mike Cunningham to coach the offensive line, former UND safety Joel Schwenzfeier to coach the running backs and Truman State graduate Jason Thier to coach the inside linebackers. Cunningham comes to UND after a seven-year stint with Mankato State where he coached the O-line and was also the running game coordinator since 2009. For Schwenzfeier, this is his first collegiate coaching job, while Thier arrived in Grand Forks after two seasons as the defensive coordinator at Montana Western (NAIA). Assistant Coach Kyle Myers was elevated to a full-time post as well prior to spring football and will coach the defensive line after coaching the outside linebackers in 2012.
TOP 50 BIG SKY MOMENTS
The Big Sky Conference is celebrating 50 years of sponsoring men’s collegiate sports this year by selecting the top 50 student-athletes and moments during the league’s first half-century. UND has only been a Big Sky member for just over a year now, but southpaw Braden Hanson managed to put UND on the “Top 50 Moments” list with a jaw-dropping performance in the 40-34 victory over Montana last season. Hanson’s Big Sky record 660-yard passing game came in as the No. 46 moment. The left-handed transfer from North Carolina spent only one season in Grand Forks, but left his name in both the school’s and Big Sky record books. Hanson completed a UND record 42 passes that day and his 660 yards are the most ever by a left-handed quarterback at any level of NCAA Football. The Alerus Center faithful were also treated to a record-setting day by one of Hanson’s receivers as Greg Hardin broke the Big Sky’s single-game receiving record by hauling in 333 yards on 12 receptions. It was also Hardin’s third three-touchdown game of the season.
HARDIN WINS CFPA’S FCS ELITE WIDE RECEIVER AWARD
College Football Performance Award officials let Greg Hardin know in late December that he was their 2012 FCS Elite Wide Receiver of the Year. The announcement came via official letter to the Bellevue, Neb., native, who became the first North Dakota player to earn an individual national award at the FCS level. Throughout the season, Hardin garnered four weekly honors from CFPA. He earned the National Performer of the Week honor after breaking the Big Sky record with 333 receiving yards and three touchdowns in the 40-34 victory over Montana on Oct. 20. He was the CFPA’s National Wide Receiver of the Week also against the Griz and vs. Portland State (Sept. 8). And, he was named the CFPA’s National Kickoff Returner of the Week following the Southern Utah game (Nov. 3). Southern Cal’s Marquise Lee was named the FBS Elite Wide Receiver of the Year.
UND attempted 396 passes during the 2012 campaign, which is a mark only topped once in program history by the 1986 squad (433). The 1986 campaign was also the only other season in UND history where the offense attempted more passes than rushes before 2012. UND rushed 349 times during its inaugural Big Sky season, which was 47 fewer times than the quarterbacks put the ball in the air. So far in 2013, that trend has continued. UND has thrown 273 passes through eight games, which averages out to 34.1 pass attempts per game. At that rate, UND quarterbacks would attempt 375 passes in 2013.