UND relies on quarterback Keaton Studsrud's precision
Keaton Studsrud's college football career began with some unfortunate irony.
After injuries to two quarterbacks, Studsrud had his redshirt pulled with four weeks left in the 2014 season. He was thrown into the fire—fittingly in a place known as the Inferno.
On the red turf of Roos Field in Cheney, Wash., Studsrud—a week removed from running the scout team—was 5-for-19 passing for 37 yards. He threw three interceptions, including one for a touchdown, as Eastern Washington pounded UND 54-3 in the first season under head coach Bubba Schweigert.
A week later, UND returned home and Studsrud threw two interceptions as Weber State picked up its first win of the season in Game 10.
Studsrud, now entering his senior season, has played in 22 games since that loss at the Alerus Center to Weber State. He hasn't thrown more than one interception in a game a single time in that stretch.
After throwing five interceptions in the first two games of his career, Studsrud has thrown six since in more than two years of work.
In 2016, as UND went undefeated in the Big Sky Conference and made the playoffs for the first time in the Division I era, Studsrud threw only two picks in 268 attempts.
"When (Studsrud) got that opportunity, it was unfair," Schweigert said of 2014. "He was running scouts for nine weeks in row and then thrown into action. That was a challenge for both he and the offensive staff."
How far has Studsrud come in the offense? UND led the country in fewest interceptions in 2016. The Fighting Hawks were the only team to throw just three picks last year. Studsrud was only responsible for two, too, as backup Ryan Bartels threw one in relief duty.
Studsrud, of St. Louis Park, Minn., and Benilde-St. Margaret's High School, has had a penchant for strong second halves.
He hasn't throw a second-half interception since a busted flea-flicker 15 games ago—Oct. 3, 2015, at Portland State.
"I think it's just the approach we take in games," Studsrud said. "You don't want to turn the ball over too much. That's not our style. We're not uptempo. As I've grown over the years, it's being smart and knowing where balls are going and not forcing anything."
Studsrud attended the Manning Passing Academy this summer in Thibodaux, La. He had the opportunity to chat with Peyton, Eli, Cooper and Archie Manning, as well as other FCS and FBS quarterbacks.
"I took away a ton of stuff," Studsrud said. "You were able to learn who they are as a person and ask questions about what they do with film and preparation. They said preparation is the biggest key."
Schweigert said Studsrud's preparation has been noticeable since 2014. He spends a lot of time with offensive coordinator Paul Rudolph, talking situations and watching film.
"I think (Studsrud) understands how we want to play football, not just as an offense but as a team," Schweigert said. "We think it's OK to punt the ball and play a field-position game. You take the shots when you have the opportunity."