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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Entering Friday's match, the UND soccer team hadn't scored in its last two games and Nebraska Omaha had just one goal in its four games this season. So perhaps not surprisingly, the Fighting Hawks and Mavericks played to a 0-0 double-overtime tie at Bronson Field. The Fighting Hawks, who moved to 2-2-1 on the year, had a 16-14 edge in total shots but only had two shots on goal against the Mavs, who are now 0-4-1.
SALT LAKE CITY -- The UND football program’s power run game is what has the Fighting Hawks ranked No. 8 in the FCS and the favorite to repeat as Big Sky Conference champions. Utah’s ability to stop the run is what has the Utes ranked No. 25 in the FBS and hopeful to make a run at a Pac 12 championship. That matchup favored the Utes on Thursday night in Utah’s 37-16 victory.
SALT LAKE CITY—UND opened its 2017 season Thursday night against an FBS team ranked No. 25 in the country. UND managed to hang around for a while, but Utah flexed its strength on both sides of the ball en route to a 37-16 win over the Fighting Hawks before more than 45,000 fans at Rice-Eccles Stadium. UND came into the game ranked No. 8 in the FCS and also is the pick to win the Big Sky Conference this season. Early on, UND held its own—leading 3-0 after the first quarter. The score was set up by an Evan Holm interception at the Utes' 29.
SALT LAKE CITY—The most highly anticipated UND football season in the Division I era kicks off today at Rice-Eccles Stadium in the shadows of the Wasatch Mountains. UND, ranked No. 8 in the FCS, will play the University of Utah, a No. 25 FBS program from the Pac 12, in front of an expected sell-out crowd of more than 45,000 fans. Temperatures are expected to be in the upper 80's for the 6:30 p.m. kickoff. The game, UND's first against a current member of the Pac 12 in 67 years, will be televised on the Pac 12 network.
In the first season of the Bubba Schweigert Era at UND in 2014, a string of injuries forced Kyle Norberg to convert from linebacker to become the team's starting running back. After starting four games in 2014 in the offensive backfield, Norberg was in the mix for carries again to open 2015, but he can remember the play that all but ended his time at tailback.
The UND football coaching staff's efforts to scout Utah have been a challenge. The No. 8 Fighting Hawks will face the Utes at 6:30 p.m. Thursday night in Salt Lake City. Utah had a school-record eight NFL draft picks in 2017 and seven other Utah players signed free agent deals in the NFL. Beyond the pro turnover, Utah fired offensive coordinator Aaron Roderick last season and just recently named a surprise starting quarterback. There is one bit of familiarity, however.
UND defensive coordinator Eric Schmidt watched junior college transfer Tamas Stewart's highlight film and was instantly intrigued. "It was exactly what we look for in safeties," Schmidt said. The UND football team successfully wooed Stewart to play for the Fighting Hawks, but the California native came to campus with an injury. He wasn't able to practice last spring and when this fall came around Stewart was still wearing a no-contact red jersey at Memorial Stadium.
UND defensive coordinator Eric Schmidt is in charge of recruiting the state of Colorado for the Fighting Hawks. Schmidt did his side of the ball a favor when it came to the 2017 recruiting class from the Denver area. True freshman cornerback Hayden Blubaugh and rookie safety Ty Shannon will not redshirt and are featured in the two-deep depth chart UND released late last week. UND, ranked No. 8 in the STATS FCS preseason poll, opens the year against Utah—the first Power 5 program the team has faced since Texas Tech in 2009.
As the UND football product has improved on the field under fourth-year coach Bubba Schweigert, work has been done this offseason to boost the environment surrounding the games. On Thursday, the Alerus Center outlined a handful of changes UND fans can expect when the home schedule starts Sept. 9 against Missouri State. No. 8-ranked UND opens the season on the road Aug. 31 at Utah.
The UND football team has spent a good portion of fall camp practicing with music blaring, anticipating a loud environment at the season opener at the University of Utah. The way UND's ticket sales are trending, the Fighting Hawks will need that experience a little more at home in 2017, too. As of Wednesday, UND has sold a school-record total of 5,086 season tickets, an increase of 1,187 new season tickets for this year compared to last.