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UND football team hopes player-only meeting is step in the right direction

Montana State's Edward Vander carries for a first down as University of North Dakota defenders try to contain him the second half Saturday, Sept. 23, at the Alerus Center. Eric Hylden / Forum News Service

The UND football team held a players-only, captain-led meeting Sunday, hoping to sort out a season that started with high national rankings and promise yet sits at 1-3 after consecutive lopsided defeats.

"We have guys who are going to step up," UND sophomore wide receiver Travis Toivonen said. "We have leaders in this organization, and we need to follow them more than ever."

Toivonen said he felt the meeting was a step in the right direction.

"I know that I personally felt that way," he said. "You can hear it from the coaches week in and week out. Sooner or later, though, you have to hear it from the other guys. Hearing it from the leaders was positive."

UND fell out of the FCS Top 25 polls for the first time this season on Monday, days after opening Big Sky Conference play with a 49-21 loss to Montana State in front of a sold-out crowd at the Alerus Center.

UND now travels to UC Davis, which is 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the Big Sky, for an 8 p.m. kickoff on Saturday night.

"I think you just have to put what happened behind us," Toivonen said. "We're going to focus on UC Davis. We'll take that approach, prepare well and hopefully get a good result.

"We've gone over film. We know we have the talent and the players to succeed. We need to focus better and stop making so many mental mistakes and start moving in the same direction. We know it's only September. We have a lot of season left and a lot of room for improvement. I think everyone has a positive outlook on the rest of the year."

UND's injury report for the UC Davis matchup highlights the injury bug the program has faced this season.

The injury report includes 10 one-time starters, including three all-Big Sky Conference selections and two All-American picks.

New to the injury report is safety Cole Reyes, the Big Sky's preseason defensive player of the year.

Reyes was injured in the first half against Montana State and is listed as questionable for Davis.

UND coach Bubba Schweigert admitted injuries have been a challenge this season.

"It has been a challenge, but we're willing to accept that challenge," he said. "The message to the guys is that we can handle this if we approach it the right way. Our leadership is starting to come to the front and that's what needs to happen in tough times."

Tom Miller

Miller has been with the Grand Forks Herald sports department for the past 13 years. He's also a Grand Forks native and UND graduate. 

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