Bubba Schweigert calls Cal Poly game 'very important for our program'

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UND linebacker Jade Lawrence (2) celebrates a sack during a football game against the Eastern Washington Eagles in the second half at Roos Field in Cheney WA, Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. UND would fall to Eastern Washington by a final score of 35-20. James Snook / Special to the Grand Forks Herald

UND football coach Bubba Schweigert is often even-keel in his weekly Monday press conferences, reluctant to overreact on a week-to-week basis.

This Monday, though, the head coach and captain Noah Wanzek relayed a sense of urgency within the program following a 55-20 loss at Idaho State to drop the Fighting Hawks to 3-3 overall.

"It's a very important game for our team this year and very important game for our program," Schweigert said.

UND, which is unbeaten at home and winless on the road this season, faces Cal Poly (2-4) at 7:05 p.m. Saturday in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

If the Fighting Hawks are going to make the FCS playoffs, they can likely only afford one more loss this season. That makes the game against the Mustangs incredibly important, considering games against No. 12 Montana State (Oct. 26) and No. 4 Weber State (Nov. 9) loom.


"A lot of focus right now is on us and looking in the mirror," Wanzek said. "Obviously, every game from here on out is pretty much must-win. There's definitely urgency. You can see it in the coaches' attitude in the way they addressed us this morning and can see it in the players.

"As a senior, it's do or die here on out. We know we just need to win and keep winning and string some games together."

UND is looking for a better effort on the road, where the Hawks have given up 38, 35 and 55 points in the first three road games of the year.

"We're a different team at home than on the road right now," Schweigert said. "That's something we have to address. We've got to lean on our team and everyone on our staff needs to look how we're approaching these games. We need to be much more consistent on the road. We have to do a better job. We need to go on the road and have a tough, disciplined effort for 60 minutes."

The Mustangs will be happy to be home, a place Poly has only played twice this season. In the first home matchup, Cal Poly rolled over San Diego 52-34. In the other, Poly went to overtime in a 34-28 loss to Montana State.

UND's road trips this season have always seen a variety of challenges. The Hawks played the No. 1 team in the country in North Dakota State at the Fargodome, then played in blizzard-like conditions in Cheney, Wash., against Eastern Washington and then faced a nine-hour travel day last Friday in order to escape a winter storm in Grand Forks. After busing to Bemidji and flying to Pocatello, the Hawks landed at 10 p.m. at local time.

"We haven't been playing as well on away games," Wanzek said. "Maybe it's a culmination of the travel situation or where the focus needs to be. We can't really blame that. We just need to be a more mature football team. That starts at the top, with the seniors. Maybe at times traveling, we were treating it more as vacation than a business trip. Stressing that throughout this week is huge."

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019 and 2022.

His primary beat is UND football but also reports on a variety of UND sports and local preps.

He can be reached at (701) 780-1121, or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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