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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Since his arrival in 2008, UND athletic director Brian Faison has navigated the school's NCAA Division I transition, secured position in the Big Sky Conference and National Collegiate Hockey Conference and handled the delicate intricacies of the Fighting Sioux nickname controversy. With those efforts in mind, UND announced Wednesday that Faison has signed a two-year contract extension that runs through June 2017. Faison's base salary is $164,000. "Of all of the places I've worked -- and I've worked at a few -- this is the place I've enjoyed the most," Faison said.
The UND football team has seen this one before: The undersized, quiet Bismarck High graduate uses incredible speed to become a major offensive weapon. UND running backs coach Danny Freund might be best qualified to draw the comparison between junior Jake Miller and former North Dakota star and current Canadian Football League standout Weston Dressler. "Lots of the same qualities there," said Freund, who was the starting quarterback during Dressler's time at UND. "When you combine athletic ability and work ethic, you see what happens.
With less than 10 practices left before the season opener, the UND football team's workouts took on a different look Monday at Memorial Stadium. Two-a-days are over and the focus has shifted to the opposition. On Monday, UND's scout team gave the defense a taste of Cal-Poly's offense, a unique triple-option attack. North Dakota doesn't play the Big Sky's Mustangs until Sept.
The UND football team has a new conference, new artificial turf and now new uniforms. UND unveiled new black jerseys on Friday at Memorial Stadium. The team's reaction to the change was a widespread thumbs-up. "We love them," UND defensive back Baylee Carr said. "You look good, you feel good, you play good." North Dakota has traditionally worn green jerseys at home in the past. The team will use the black jerseys as a home alternate option. The jerseys read North Dakota in small, white lettering across the chest and include green piping along the side.
In the preseason Big Sky Conference coaches' poll, the UND women's soccer team was picked to finish in a tie for last place in the 10-team league. But as the season opener approaches tonight against Northern Iowa, UND players aren't focusing on the poll. Instead, they're reminded of last season's game against Montana. "We played Montana here last year and we beat them 2-1," UND senior forward Rhaya Ballon said.
The University of Idaho plans to join the Big Sky Conference in all sports except football, pending Idaho State Board of Education approval Friday. The Vandals, who had previously been competing in the Western Athletic Conference, will try to compete as a Football Bowl Subdivision independent. The state board will hold a special meeting Friday to vote on Idaho's athletic future, a future the UND athletic department would warmly welcome. "Institutionally, we're very supportive of Idaho joining the Big Sky," UND athletic director Brian Faison said.
The UND football program is entering new territory as it embarks on its inaugural season in the Big Sky Conference and the first opportunity at the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. The fresh undertakings have created a new buzz. As of Thursday, the UND athletic department says it has sold roughly 4,300 season football ticket packages for the 2012 season -- up nearly 400 from 2011 -- with two weeks to go before the team's season opener. "Obviously people are excited for the Big Sky," said Dexter Albrecht, UND's director of ticket sales.
The UND coaching staff hasn't made any decisions about pulling redshirts off of true freshmen at this point in fall camp. But when that conversation does get underway, wide receiver Kenny Golladay will be the first up for discussion. Golladay, a lanky 6-foot-4 Chicago native, has turned in enough big plays during fall camp to at least force UND coach Chris Mussman to make a tough decision. "Obviously with his talent level and if he makes us better, that discussion will have to happen at some point," UND offensive coordinator Greg Breitbach said.
UND football coach Chris Mussman said he wanted to concentrate on the passing game Saturday morning during the team's first scrimmage of fall camp. The consensus was that the results were so-so. Senior quarterback Braden Hanson connected with redshirt freshman wide receiver Jameer Jackson for a 15-yard scoring play as the only touchdown of the 12-drive scrimmage at Memorial Stadium. "It was inconsistent," said Hanson, a transfer from the University of North Carolina. "Offense is all about consistency. We've got to come out of the gate firing.
UND's eighth practice of fall camp had a different feel Thursday at Memorial Stadium. The team mimicked late-game situations and full contact was allowed for the first time. UND coach Chris Mussman was pleased with the team's development during these simulated-game situations. "We're way ahead of where we were at this time last year," Mussman said.