Hawks Fly to the Playoffs-What Now?

After UND’s Big Sky Championship, and a 9-2 record, what do they need to do to advance in the FCS playoffs? Here are some of my quick thoughts.

 

  1. Start Strong
    1. Many times this season UND has had to come back to finish out key victories. Often times UND has played a 30 or 45 minute game and stil come out on top. The Hawks have been better as of late but will nto be able to get away with any slow starts in the playoffs.
  2. Feed Thunder and Lightning
    1. Make sure that Brady Olivera and John Santiago get at least 15 touches each. Both  running backs have proven to be effective for UND this season and both bring different strengths to the game. Santiago will make you miss while Brady will run you over.
  3. Keep the Defense on the Sidelines
    1. If the UND offense can control the ball for at least 35 minutes I believe it has a chance to go far. The UND defense has been at its best when it has had a chance to rest and rotate players in and out. If Richmond has the ball for more than 35 minutes the path will become tougher.

UND Football- Three Thoughts

Another week , another key win for the Fighting Hawks in their quest to make the playoffs for the first time since joining the Big Sky Conference in 2012. Here are some thoughts about the tough win against Weber State and what needs to happen to win against Northern Colorado.

  1. If there was a defensive coordinator of the year award, Eric Schmidt deserves it. The Hawk defense consistently generates turnovers and high percentage scoring chances for the offense. Last week with four takeaways is another prime example of this. Schmidt and his staff have developed standouts at every level of the defense from Tank Harris on the defensive line to Cole Reyes in the secondary. Do not forget about Taj Rich as well. This UND defense will be the reason UND makes or does not make the playoffs.
  2. Kickoff coverage needs to improve and the placekicking needs to get better. Weber had multiple long returns on short kicks. If UND wants to keep doing sky kicks it should not tip its hand like the good folks at Sioux Football Insider noted they were doing during last week’s game. line up in an even formation and sky the ball. Do not stack one side because as noted, Weber routinely had extra blockers compared to UND’s actual coverage on the kickoff side.
  3. No matter who plays quarterback look for a west coast style of quick runs and short passes against Northern Colorado. If UND can run the ball and pass with some efficiency at a 60/40 clip then they will improve from the Weber State game. It will allow them to feature all three running backs and not allow UNC to stack the box then good things can happen. If UND can play strong defense and improve slightly on offense with a measure of unpredictability, then good things can happen this Saturday in Greeley.

 

 

UND Football 3 Thoughts-On to the Hornets

After a key win over Cal Poly at home, UND football heads out west to take on Sacramento State. Here are some thoughts on the game last week, and this week.

  1. Eric Schmidt needs a pay raise. The Fighting Hawks’ defensive coordinator has completely made over this defense from its Pre-Bubba (head coach Bubba Schweigert) days. UND swarmed Cal Poly all day and forced them to completely alter their gameplan. The strong play of defensive tackle Tank Harris forced Cal Poly into more passing situations. In addition, Deion Harris has played so well this season that Cal Poly exclusively focused on Torrey Hunt’s side. This allowed UND to dial up more blitzes and rush Cal Poly’s timing.
  2. Keaton Studsrud is slowly getting better in first quarters. This was his best week as UND played turnover free in the first quarter and set itself up to do well in the rest of the game. Keaton did all this with a backup center and a patchwork offensive line.
  3. Give Brady Olivera 25 or more carries every week. Give John Santiago 15-20 when he is healthy and split him out wide more. Olivera is playing the best football of his career. His run where he absolutely ran over a defensive lineman reminded me of Marshawn Lynch’s bruising run against the Saints in the 2011 NFL Playoffs. Olivera’s play is reminiscent of Lynch, strong in space with a quick burst and the ability to generate enormous yards after contact. If UND runs formations with Santiago at the wing and Olivera in the back field, defense becomes much harder for the opposition. Who do you target? The guy that can make you miss or the guy that can run you over? If Santiago plays more wideout with Olivera as a running back, this opens up a new dimension for UND. They could even run a triple option out of a non-traditional triple option formation.

Three Thoughts-UND Football

Time for another three thoughts on UND Football going forward after a tough 17-15 win in Bozeman over Montana State. UND takes on the high-motor triple option offense of Cal Poly next weekend at the Alerus Center. The Mustangs upset the number six team in the country this weekend. I will repeat myself multiple times regarding one thing. Anyone who can be in the Alerus Center needs to go and stay all 60 minutes. UND needs all the support it can get from the community.

Here are some thoughts on this past weekend and Cal Poly this weekend.

  1. UND must improve its first quarters. Every week UND has either squandered chances or been forced to play catch up from its poor first quarter showings. This past weekend it started off on the wrong foot by fumbling on its opening drive. This only cost them three points.
  2. Keaton Studsrud has to have a better showing this weekend. Every week he seems to miss three to five open wideouts. If Keaton can play a full 60 minutes UND will be able to counter the running game of Cal Poly with simple ball control. A strong offense with a diverse playbook is the best counter for the triple option. In addition, if Studsrud has a stronger game it will open up more opportunities for UND’s strong running back duo of Brady Olivera and John Santiago.
  3. UND’s defense has carried them this season. The Fighting Hawks have one of if not the best defenses in the country. Eventually the offense has to step up and mount more than one or two sustained drives throughout the game. Cal Poly is a strong enough team to keep the scenario of another South Dakota like comeback from happening again. If the offense can possess the ball for more than half of the game, UND has a much better chance of winning. This is the toughest opponent UND has played so far, UND needs all the help it can get. This is true from both the offense and the fans. If UND gets a packed Alerus Center for all 60 minutes it will help its cause. UND students once again need to show up, be loud and respectful, and stay all 60 minutes. The Fighting Hawks’ wins have not been easy but the games have been fun for all 60 minutes.

UND-USD: Game recap

The home opener for University of North Dakota football against University South Dakota was on Saturday, 9/17.  The first quarter of the game was quite intense, USD scored first with a field goal at 8:47 and UND responded eight minutes later, when Junior Cole Reyes makes an interception and runs it 33 yards for a touchdown. The second quarter was all about USD, with UND’s Travis Toivonen (Fr) completing a 11 yard pass from Keaton Studsrud (Jr) for a touch down at 9:23. USD get one field goal and three touchdowns ending the half leading UND 27-14.

At the start of the 3rd, USD comes out strong and scores another touchdown. UND ends the 3rd with Reid Taubenheim (Jr) kicking a 32-yard field goal, 34-17. The 4th was all about UND with Studsrud having a touchdown pass to John Santiago (So) , while Deion Harris (Jr) picks off and runs it in for a 33-yard touchdown return. Taubenheim also completed another field goal. Ending regulation with a tied game 34-34.

USD won the coin toss and went on the defensive, which was followed by a quick touchdown from Santiago with a 25 yard run. USD answered with a touchdown to tie the game again at 41-41. UND then forced a field goal making the score 44-41. This is when everyone’s heart stopped, the ten minutes that followed was an emotional roller coaster for both teams. UND had two touchdowns called back for being just inches short of the goal line. Finally, on the 3rd attempt, Studsrud made a 1 yard run to make the winning goal. Bring UND record to 1-2.

Sadly, many of the student body left at the end of the 2rd quarter, missing out on the amazing end of the game. My pick for MVP, would be John Santiago. A sophomore, had two touch downs, one rushing and one receiving. Santiago ran for 142 yards with an average gain of 6.4 yards a carry. Runner up, I would say is Reid Taubenheim, completing five field goals and in doing so kept us in the game.

I just want to say thank you to the staff at the Alerus Center for helping me find my way round and making sure I had everything I needed!!

3 Thoughts- UND V Stony Brook Recap

This is the first blog back in a bit. Here are some quick thoughts on the UND loss against Stony Brook. Look for more as we get closer to hockey season.

  1. UND’s season is not over. They have to adress replacing production of deep threat Clive Georges and improve on the offensive line. However, UND’s defense nearly won that game on its own. Defensive Coordinator Eric Schmidt and Defensive Line Coach Jordan Gigli did an outstanding job rotating personnel on Thursday night and the defensive line set the tone for everyone else.
  2. Keaton Studsrud played one of the worst games of his career on Thursday. I have never seen Studsrud miss so many easy throws set the offense back like he did. Credit to Stony Brook, as their defensive line was pressuring Keaton all game. If Studsrud can find his form again UND should be ok.
  3. While this loss was unexpected, it does not doom UND’s playoff hopes. It serves as a wake up call  that preseason expectations do not get you to the playoffs. If UND can use this week’s game against Bowling Green to improve on some of the things that need it, they should be fine going forward. UND can still make the playoffs, but it has a lot of work to do to make that goal a reality.

Reasons to Love Hockey:Reboot

Sorry Guys, Life happens and I haven’t been able to be post as quickly as I normally would.

Today there are less than 100 days left till the puck drops at the Shark tank against the LA kings. This post is not really a reason more just a review of what has happened in the last two weeks.

We had some crazy trades and an amazing first day of free agency.   The San Jose Sharks have signed four players so far and on the first day. David Schlemko is one of the two high profile players that SJ picked up. I would have to say the Schlemko is going to be a good addition to the team. I am interested to see how this plays out. He has a tendancy to either be really good or really bad, either way, he will be a good replacement for Roman Polak. Which I personally feel was a major liability for the Sharks on defense this past season. Mikkel Boedker, I am not so sure how I feel about him, it honestly will depend on what line they end up placing him on. I think he might play well with a player like Donskoi and Hertl, but only time will tell. The two re-signs are Aaron Dell(G) and Micheal Haley (C). I am looking forward to see what Haley does this season. I think it was smart to bring him back.

Now Dell, I have been watching this player for six years and I have a good feeling about this upcoming season from him. I am was ecstatic when I saw that SJ resigned him, like literally jumped up and down (sorry downstairs neighbors), I think he will be a great backup option to Jones. They have very similar playing styles and I believe Dell has earned his shot to play on NHL ice. I know a lot of you are thinking about how untested he is on a professional rink, but you will never know how well any player can handle the pressure of the “big” time, with over 6,500 minutes of playing time between the ECHL,CHL and AHL, It is in my honest thoughts that he can handle it and I am really looking forward to seeing were it all heads for him.

UND Fighting Hawks Logo Thoughts

Let’s clear some things up first. I am a UND graduate writing this article. I do think that this whole nickname process with the committees, votes, and re-votes and all that went into it showed that this community cares about UND a lot. No one argued for or against the Fighting Hawks name and logo out of malice, we all care about the University of North Dakota first. This process lead to a series of votes picking a name a lot of people seemed to not like. I get that, no nickname to some can replace Fighting Sioux. To others, the name was considered to be offensive. The reason we are even looking at this logo and the Fighting Hawks name was a result of that group of others including the NCAA. If UND was still named the Fighting Sioux then UND would be playing under sanctions in the NCAA and not allowed to host events like the 2015 and 2017 West Regionals in Fargo. The 2015 version cast the entire state of North Dakota in a wonderful light and showcased top level college hockey. I have no doubts that this next regional will do the same thing.

All of that being said, the logo unveiled, to me is good. Is it the best logo? No. Is it horrible, no. I like the logo because it shows the bird pushing forward into the future. In addition, the eye is right about on where Grand Forks is in the state of North Dakota. It shows that this University values itself as the flagship school. Those are my main reasons for liking it purely on aesthetics. As we move forward, the Hawk will be the sole logo without the ND background. I am ok with this. We have spent a long time playing under just the ND. While the interlocking ND is great, it does not benefit our other teams in terms of distinct identity. The fact that our football team is going to wear this logo this year on their helmets shows that the coaches support this logo and want to get behind it.

Could the logo be better? Sure. Could it be worse? You bet. No matter how good or bad the hawk logo was some fans will not support it. That is understandable. Over time more and more fans will look at this logo and realize that, like me, they are UND fans first. I came to North Dakota in 2012,one year after the Fighting Sioux Jerseys were used for the last time. I have never known this school to compete with a distinct and unique logo more than script lettering on jerseys. Once the hawk head remains UND will have it.

Regardless of the logo, I agree with the way our football team is handling the logo and name change. They have embraced it head on, and will be the first UND team to wear something with the logo on it. Coach Schweigert’s passionate speech at the press conference was outstanding to watch. He wants to lead UND Football forward to the playoffs and eventually an FCS championship. Whatever logo UND competes under does not change that. We are all University of North Dakota fans. The Fighting Sioux name will always have a proud place at UND. Since November, the Fighting Hawks name is slowly getting to that level.

Will the same acceptance for this name and logo happen overnight? Of course not. How long will it take? Given how long the process took to get to this point, I would say at least 20-30 years. In the meantime, more students will come to campus, and more people will buy Fighting Hawks gear and show support for their school. Grand Forks is a special place full of wonderful people who contribute to a world class university and great people who support it. That has never changed and will not change because of a logo disagreement. I am proud to be a UND graduate and will support this school no matter the name choice. Could the process have been expedited? Sure. Should it have been? Probably not.

This process allowed nearly every constituent to have a say in the name. We had rounds of voting to choose the name. UND worked with a company in SME with years of experience building brands for sport properties around the nation. Let’s give the logo at least as long as we gave the process from the final North Dakota referendum to get here to see how it does. If the logo does not sell enough or needs to be changed, it will be.

UND changed the Fighting Sioux logo multiple times and fans still supported the school. In summation, all of this process showed me how passionate we all are about North Dakota and its athletics. Agree or disagree with the logo, let’s give it time and remember, we are UND fans before we are fans of any nickname.