Miller has been with the Grand Forks Herald sports department for the past 10 years. He's also a Grand Forks native and UND graduate.
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SACRAMENTO, Calif.—UND defensive line coach Jordan Gigli's pregame handshake with the opposing coaches lasted a little longer on Saturday night at Hornet Stadium. Gigli knows what it's like to be on both sides of the UND-Sacramento State football matchup. The last time UND faced Sacramento State, a 31-7 Hornets' victory in 2013, Gigli and UND defensive end Noah Johnson were on the opposite sideline.
Q. What was your first introduction to football? A. I started playing way back when. I was brought up in it. Football was a big sport my dad involved me in. Growing up in Alabama, it's a big thing down there. I started in like fourth or fifth grade. Q. What was it like growing up in Huntsville, Ala.? A. It's a nice city. I like to say it's got a country and city feel. It's definitely not what you see when you think Alabama. It's a great place. Q. After spending your first year out of high school at Navy Prep, how did you land at North Dakota?
SACRAMENTO, Calif.—After giving up 12 sacks in four games, the UND offensive line was forced to shuffle its lineup prior to last Saturday's matchup with then-No. 16 Cal Poly. Transfer center Michael Coe was moved out to right tackle after starter Mat Cox suffered a season-ending injury. Redshirt freshman Patric Rooney shifted into the starter role at center.
The UND football program is coming off two consecutive years of competitive games against FBS competition. The Fighting Hawks earned their first FBS win in 2015, opening the season with a 24-13 victory over Wyoming. UND followed with a 27-26 loss at Bowling Green in September where the Fighting Hawks missed a 2-point conversion in the final moments to win the game. UND, however, is about to test some tougher waters when it comes to FBS matchups. On Thursday, UND announced a matchup with Kansas State of the Big 12 in 2020.
Austin Gordon signed with the UND football 2015 recruiting class as a walk-on running back out of Wayzata, Minn. Gordon signed in the same year, at the same position, as John Santiago and Brady Oliveira. Santiago, a preseason All-American in 2016, starred as a true freshman as the go-to runner for UND in 2015. Oliveira, also highly touted out of Winnipeg, made a splash in his rookie year. With the 1-2 punch of Santiago and Oliveira, UND appeared to be set for years at running back. It was a depth chart that looked bleak for Gordon's chances of playing time.
UND football coach Bubba Schweigert was asked about his team's three-game winning streak and latest rankings in the STATS FCS poll. "Are we ranked?" Schweigert asked, probably in jest. Indeed, UND has returned to the Top 25 poll with a No. 24 ranking released Monday.
UND football fans came to the Alerus Center on Saturday expecting a showdown between All-American Fighting Hawks running back John Santiago and the FCS leading rusher, Cal Poly fullback Joe Protheroe. The elite running showdown never materialized. Santiago was injured on the second play of the game and never returned. Protheroe dressed for warm-ups but never played due to an injury. That didn't mean a letdown for the green and white faithful. The 10,097 in attendance were still treated to plenty of entertainment.
By the end of UND's 31-24 win over No. 16 Cal Poly at the Alerus Center on Saturday, the Fighting Hawks' offense featured running back Austin Gordon and center Grant Aplin. At the start of the season, Gordon was UND's fourth-string running back and Aplin was UND's third-string center. There's no doubt, as UND head coach Bubba Schweigert said after the game, UND's sports medicine staff will be busy this week.
The West Fargo Sheyenne triple-option offense got off to a poor start, fumbling on the first play of the game. That was about all that went wrong in the first half for Sheyenne's offense. The Mustangs followed the fumble with four consecutive touchdown-scoring drives en route to a 38-22 win over Grand Forks Red River on Friday night at Cushman Field.
The UND football team received good and bad injuries news this week as it prepared for Saturday's 1 p.m. matchup with No. 16 Cal Poly at the Alerus Center. Fighting Hawks wide receiver Josh Seibel is expected to return to the lineup for the first time this season after recovering from a knee injury suffered in spring ball. The junior from Bismarck tied for the team lead in receptions in 2015 with 26 catches for 278 yards and two touchdowns. Seibel is also expected to return punts for UND against Poly.