UND setting out to put homecoming loss in past against Northern Colorado
GREELEY, Colo. — University of North Dakota starting inside linebacker Donnell Rodgers was blunt when he summarized his team’s feeling following a roller-coaster two weeks, where the Fighting Hawks won at No. 5 Sam Houston State then lost at home to unranked Idaho State.
“The Idaho State loss did suck, but you have to move on,” Rodgers said.
UND (2-2) will try to put the Idaho State setback in the rear-view mirror when the Hawks take on Northern Colorado (0-4) at Nottingham Field at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 29.
“Maybe it opened up our eyes a little bit that we have to treat every opponent the same,” UND outside linebacker Jaxson Turner said.
The Bears will be desperate for a win. UNC’s four losses have all been tight games against quality programs, although head coach Earnest Collins Jr. had to answer questions about his job status from the local media this week.
UND has had Northern Colorado’s number in recent history. The Hawks are going for a sixth straight win against the Bears.
UND’s run game, specifically John Santiago, has meant trouble for UNC.
In the last three years, UND has ran for 314 yards in 2017, 290 in 2016 and a whopping 408 in 2015.
Santiago, now a senior captain, has run for 70, 202 and 180 yards in those three games.
Northern Colorado, meanwhile, is adjusting to a new-look offense thanks to another injury to quarterback Jacob Knipp, who suffered a season-ending injury for the third straight season.
In his place, the Bears have turned to Keaton Mott, who had 262 passing yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions last week in a loss to 3-1 Weber State.
His top target was Alex Wesley, a veteran speedster, who had six catches for 137 yards. On the season, Wesley is averaging more than 20 yards per catch.
“Wesley is as good of a receiver as you’re going to see,” UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. “Last week, he made some catches that were highlight-reel catches.”
At running back, the Bears have featured Wyoming transfer Milo Hall — rather than veteran Trae Riek.
Schweigert said UNC hasn’t altered much offensively since changing quarterbacks.
“(Mott) can make some throws,” Schweigert said. “He ran the ball, too, so he’s got some mobility. They’ll use him as a weapon.”
The game is the last scheduled chance for UND to play in Greeley for the foreseeable future. UND will join the MIssouri Valley Football Conference in 2020 and UNC will come to Grand Forks in 2019.