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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DAVIS, Calif. --.The UND football team, preseason Big Sky Conference favorite and once ranked in the top 10 of the FCS, visited the West Coast late Saturday night hoping to bounce back following two disappointing losses. Instead, the free fall continued. UC Davis did nearly anything it wanted offensively, racked up a 38-17 halftime lead and beat UND 48-24 in front of 9,508 at Aggie Stadium.
Q. What was your first introduction to football? A. I first started in flag football. My dad was big into football. I remember going to Packers games as a kid. Q. As a Packers fan, who was your favorite player? A. I think one of my favorites growing up was Nick Collins. I liked the way he hit. Q. You and UND safety Jordan Canaday are both from New Berlin, Wis. How well do you know each other?
DAVIS, Calif.—The UND football program flew to the West Coast on Friday afternoon, but more accurately limped to California. UND limped, both because the Fighting Hawks are trying to regroup from a pair of concerning lopsided losses but also because the team has a mounting list of injuries. UND, unranked for the first time all season, will try to fight its way back into the Big Sky Conference race tonight against UC Davis, a program that hopes to be on the rise under first-year coach Dan Hawkins.
Already holding two set wins, UND trailed Idaho 16-11 in the third set Thursday night at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center. Fighting Hawks volleyball coach Mark Pryor could tell one thing about his team at that juncture. "They didn't want to go four (sets)," Pryor said. At this point, it must be easy for Pryor to spot that mentality in his team. UND has now won 29 straight sets at the Betty. The Fighting Hawks held off the Vandals in the third set to grab a 25-22, 25-18, 25-21 win in Big Sky Conference play.
Ryan Tobin and Noah Mortel are both from Wisconsin, both redshirt freshmen offensive linemen and both have been considered UND's future up front. As injuries have taken a toll on the Fighting Hawks in 2017, however, the future is now on the offensive line. Mortel started at left tackle and Tobin at left guard in last week's home loss against Montana State.
UND forward Nick Jones' first shot at college hockey came at 18 years old. Now 21, he's hoping to make the most of his second chance. The junior transfer from Ohio State has impressed coaches and teammates with his work ethic and competitiveness and Fighting Hawks coach Brad Berry said Jones is going to be counted on heavily. Jones, 5-foot-11 and 175 pounds, saw a little bit of recruiting interest from UND out of his first round of junior hockey, when he was playing for the Sherwood Park Crusaders of the Alberta Junior Hockey League.
UND President Mark Kennedy has hired a consulting firm to review top officials in the athletic department. UND athletic director Brian Faison told his head coaches to set up a meeting with a consulting firm between the days of Sept. 11-13, according to an email obtained by the Herald through an open records request.
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.
Q. What are your first memories of football? A. Just watching it with my dad. My dad has always been my biggest influence for football. Q. Who did you guys watch? A. He's always loved Ohio State. My dad is from Columbus. Q. Do you still keep tabs on Ohio State? A. A little bit, but it's more Fighting Hawks now. Q. You played high school football at Benilde-St. Margaret's High School in Minnesota with Keaton Studsrud. You were a junior when he was a senior. What do you remember about Studsrud in high school?
UND senior quarterback Keaton Studsrud came to Memorial Stadium on Sunday and had to relive the 45-7 loss to South Dakota in Vermillion from the day before. "You want to watch all of (the film)," Studsrud said. "It's a good learning experience. You watch and learn and that's the best thing you can do. It puts you in check and makes you want to work harder." UND is regrouping and refocusing this week, as the Fighting Hawks try to pick up the pieces leading up to Saturday's Big Sky Conference opener against Montana State at 2:30 p.m. in the Alerus Center.