UND Football 2017: A Look at the Culture Bubba Has Built

UND has not had the best results on the football field.The Fighting Hawks finished 3-8 this season. However, Fighting Hawks fans, do not let the record fool you. This program is fully committed to building up its own culture and the past season does not change that.This team has shown it can bounce back even within the season. One example of this is its home win against Northern Colorado after a tough road loss the week prior. The coaching staff has done a relentless marketing  job of this program . Below are a few reasons why fans can remain confident in UND and this coaching staff despite the record not being what anyone wanted coming off of a Big Sky Championship.

The Coaching Staff Recruiting Fans and Players Alike

Coaches have to recruit and build the program right? Yes, of course, but one thing that changed  out of necessity after the Mussman years was more recruiting not just of players, but of fans.

That has completely changed since Bubba Schweigert became head coach at UND. His entire staff is an incredibly visible presence in the community. Every time I have seen any of them at a hockey game or any other UND event they are always supporting their fellow athletic programs.

In addition, very rare is a Friday before a home game that Bubba does not take a stack of tickets, and head to the quad behind the library and interact with a lot of students, and hand out all of his tickets.

This, in turn, has lead to a complete revitalization of the student section. Now, the students have often helped lead chants and pump up the crowd which has, in-turn caused numerous crowd-induced penalties and timeouts over the years.

Bubba’s staff has turned the Alerus Center back into the tough place to play it once was during UND’s Division Two days.

One final example of this culture change, is Bubba’s assistants helping out. It was quite impressive to see assistant coach Travis Stepps handing out tickets to studying students in the Memorial Union this past Thursday imploring them to come. Everyone on Bubba’s staff has bought into the holistic recruiting that had to take place to win back fans and recruits.

The Next Man Up Mentality 

Throughout this year, from star defensive back Deion Harris being out for the season, to losing senior QB Keaton Studsrud for a couple of points in time due to injuries, no one on this team has used injuries as an excuse. The best example of this is at the middle linebacker where it has used more than three players as its projected starters were out due to injury.

Because of these increased reps to all of the backups coming into the season, players like safety Jordan Canady and all of UND’s backup offensive lineman that had to play will be more ready to shoulder the load heading into next season. These tough reps now will pay benefits to UND in the future as it plays a tough independent schedule the next few years before heading into the SEC of FCS Football, the Missouri Valley.

One Final Thing

Fighting Hawks fans, this year has been tough. No one,especially this coaching staff, is happy with a team that finishes 3-8 after winning a championship.

However, as some of you are seeing with the Green Bay Packers, the team looks a bit different without Aaron Rodgers leading things right? Is it fair to say that no matter how good things are with their backups in, that they have to develop and learn their games with reps to improve? I think so, and now Green Bay can have a better setup in the future as they now have had to gameplan without their star.

UND has had that problem with a lot of its positions this year as more than half of its projected starters have not played, or have stopped playing due to injury.

This staff took over a 3-8 program , and lead it to a playoff berth a short three years later. Let’s see what this talented staff of Bubba Schweigert can do in the offseason to bring in some depth in areas of need, and develop its current corps of returners. This program is in a completely different state than it was after its last 3-8 season. Do not let a copious amount of injuries change your mind on that fact.

This past week, Bubba noted his thanks for the atmosphere at the game and how the fans reacted. He lamented that his team could not do enough to keep the fans in the game. For next year, look for more changes from the UND roster to stay competitive with the tough independent schedule it will play.

One thing that will remain the same is the dedicated staff Bubba has to help him sell his vision of day-by-day, tough, hard working football to fans here in Grand Forks. UND fans want to see winning football. This staff has an offseason to bring that back to Grand Forks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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UND Uses Balanced Effort to Clinch 2nd Seed in Big Sky Tournament

(Photo Credit: Conor Knuteson for UNDsports.com)

UND Stats

Press Conferences: Griffin, Pryor

In front of a loud 1,319 fans at the Betty Englestad Sioux Center, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks used a balanced attack to defeat the University of Northern Colorado Bears in four sets (25-19,25-19,23-25,25-19) to secure the second seed in their final Big Sky Conference Tournament. UND will compete in the Summit League next season.

The Fighting Hawks finished the regular season 12-4 in the Big Sky Conference and now have to prepare to fight for a return trip to the NCAA Tournament on the campus of Sacramento State next weekend.

Today, UND was able to successfully utilize an outstanding effort from senior Sydney Griffin on defense who contributed 22 digs and 42 assists to the effort.The senior came a mere five kills from a triple-double.

Coach Mark Pryor noted the efficient style of her game as she took what the defense gave her, and made the efficient play.

Griffin’s superb defensive play set up the Fighting Hawks’  offense to have a balanced day. Ashley Brueggeman, Jordan Vail and Tamara Merseli paced the Fighting Hawks on offense (13,12,and 8 kills respectively).

UND now heads into next week with a chance to break down film, study its potential opponents in the tournament, utilize its first-round bye, and go for its second NCAA Tournament appearance in two years.

Coach Pryor also reached 100 wins in his UND career today. During his postgame talk with the media, he focused on UND being mentally ready for next week. He feels that the Fighting Hawks have a “puncher’s chance” next week.

If  UND can play their game and limit errors, they most certainly do.

 

Thrice as Nice: UND Uses a Three Goal Second Period to Help Down Miami (OH) 4-1 Plus 2 Thoughts

(Photo Credit:Kelsey Lee for Violent Turtle Photography)

In front of 11,389 loud fans at the Ralph Englestad Arena, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks were able to spring past the University of Miami of Ohio Red Hawks thanks to a three goal second period. The Fighting Hawks used strong forward play, lead by former Ohio State Buckeye Nick Jones to neutralize the speedy style the RedHawks played.  He took a pass from Colton Poolman 4:03 into the second period and buried it past Miami goaltender Ryan Larkin. This would key the three goal second period the Fighting Hawks used to earn the victory on Friday Night. UND is now 7-2-2 while Miami is 4-5-0.

Throughout the first period, the Fighting Hawks were playing catch up hockey. While the period ended with no score, it also ended with the Red Hawks winning the shot attempt battle by a resounding 21-8. Peter Thome looked strong in the first period. He even played well a couple of long bounces that looked similar to the one Jeff Frazee was unable to stop many years ago against Robbie Bina.

2nd period

Later on after Jones’s first goal, on the power play, Shane Gersich rushed down the ice  and executed a wraparound a bit later to set up Rhett Gardner to bury the eventual game-winning goal .  This goal came 16:17 into the second stanza.

Then just a little bit later, 18:07 into the second frame, Nick Jones took a feed from Jordan Kawaguchi and buried his second tally of the night to give the Fighting Hawks a three goal lead after the second.

3rd period 

In the third period, the RedHawks were finally able to complete the tough task of solving Thome as Panthers’ prospect, Karch Bachman fired one past him 07:26 into the third period to make it a two goal affair once again.

However, a mere four minutes later, Grant Mismash added an insurance marker to re-stake UND to a three goal lead. He potted his second point of the game on a net-front battle to provide the final margin of victory for the evening.

Peter Thome played a strong game throughout the evening for the Fighting Hawks. Coach Brad Betty noted how sharp Thome was, especially in the first period when the team in front of him was not producing much.

Be Consistent

If the team can repeat its performance from period two, it will have a lot of success this season. If the Fighting Hawks play like a first period team, then the success will not come as quickly. UND’s biggest opponent from success could end up being itself.

Thome Time

Peter Thome exudes a quiet confidence while playing goal for the Fighting Hawks. He never looks out of any play and always finds a way to stay calm. Utilize Saturday night as a chance to get him more experience, but do not let up. If Thome sees less than 30 shots, the chances increase for a UND sweep.