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UND FOOTBALL: UND upbeat as team prepares for home opener

August 28, 2014; San Jose, CA, USA; North Dakota head coach Bubba Schweigert watches from the sideline against the San Jose State Spartans during the fourth quarter at Spartan Stadium. The Spartans defeated the Fighting Sioux 42-10. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The common word at Monday’s weekly UND football press conference at Memorial Stadium was “encouraged.”

Whether it was head coach Bubba Schweigert, wide receiver R.J. McGill or defensive end Alec Carrothers, UND’s spokesmen were upbeat as the team prepares for its home opener at 6 p.m. Saturday against Robert Morris.

“There was lots we saw that can get better at that can lead to points and wins,” said McGill of the team’s season-opening 42-10 loss to San Jose State. “There was good and bad, but I felt like there was a lot to look forward to this season.”

Carrothers said he liked the postgame feel in San Jose.

“I felt like there was a want-to … guys ready to get going,” Carrothers said. “There was a real positive energy from our team. I’m excited to show our city what we have on Saturday.”

Penalties and turnovers

Schweigert said he was disappointed with the final result, but he was pleased with his team’s effort considering the circumstances. UND traveled to San Jose with 27 first-time UND players, including 10 true freshmen.

“I was encouraged overall after we got back and had a chance to look at the video,” Schweigert said. “I saw good things to build on. We just have to focus on eliminating mistakes in our control. Penalties are the No. 1 thing.”

UND was flagged for 10 penalties, totaling 61 yards.

Schweigert was also critical of the team’s two turnovers, as well as the punt team.

Quarterback Joe Mollberg fumbled once and was intercepted once. The punt team gave up a 40-yard touchdown return by Tyler Ervin.

UND punted five times, with a 38.2-yard average. UND’s starting punter for the first four games of the season is expected backup Connor Bolduc, a true freshman. Last year’s starting punter, sophomore Mitch Meindel, is out four weeks for a violation of athletic department policy.

UND’s two turnovers will be an extra point of emphasis this week as Robert Morris is coming off a season-opening 29-10 loss to Eastern Kentucky of the Ohio Valley Conference. Robert Morris forced four turnovers in the loss.

“They created some confusion for their opponent, so that’s always a concern,” Schweigert said.

But Robert Morris also gave up 407 rushing yards against Eastern Kentucky, while churning out just 28 yards on 24 carries offensively.

“I feel like this game will set the tempo for the season,” McGill said.

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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