5 things to know from UND coach Bubba Schweigert's final press conference of the 2022 season

UND finished the season 7-5 last Saturday with a 38-31 loss to Weber State in the first round of the FCS playoffs.

NCAA FOOTBALL 2022: North Dakota vs Weber State NOV 26
UND head coach Bubba Schweigert and Weber State head coach Jay Hill chat prior to the NCAA FCS playoff football game between the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks and the Weber State Wildcats at Stewart Stadium in Ogden, UT on Saturday, November 26, 2022.
Russell Hons / UND Athletics
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GRAND FORKS — UND football coach Bubba Schweigert held his final press conference of the 2022 season on Monday to wrap the 7-5 year that ended in Ogden, Utah, last Saturday in a 38-31 loss to Weber State in the first round of the FCS playoffs.

Here are five key takeaways from Schweigert's comments.

1. UND looking to address defensive line

It was pointed out to Schweigert that a year ago he highlighted the offensive line as an area the Fighting Hawks needed to address in the offseason. He was asked if there was a similar position group this offseason that needed to be retooled.

"I was pleased with how we addressed the offensive line," Schweigert said. "We had more depth, so we could sustain some injury and illness.

"Moving forward, I think the same things on the other side of the ball. We have to have better depth on the defensive line and keep guys fresh. We had guys play really well. I thought Ben McNaboe had a really good year, but do we need to rotate him more? That could help him as a player and us as a team.


"We took some losses at the corner position, so we returned very little experience at corner. That took time to settle in there, and we feel we have guys who stepped forward and have guys in their first year who need to step forward. I think when you have that competition within your team, it really helps."

2. UND hasn't made final decisions on returners

When the NCAA elected to make the 2021 spring college football season not count against an athlete's eligibility, the past few years have made for tough personnel decisions for athletes and programs.

Schweigert wasn't ready Monday to speak specifically about any of those eligible.

"I haven't had those meetings yet," Schweigert said. "We had midseason meetings during our open week. We didn't want that to be a distraction. As we move forward, we need to know who's with us and who won't be.

"It's so different now with that Covid year. We respect all decisions with all individuals, but we'll also talk with them about we think is good and what we have concerns about. I do know this; the guys who do come back need to be all-in and want to do this. We look forward to those meetings and will have decisions made late this week."

3. UND looking for difference-makers in portal

With the start of the offseason for UND football, Schweigert was asked how he sifts through the transfer portal to find a player like Tyler Hoosman, who came to Grand Forks from Northern Iowa.

Hoosman became an all-conference running back for UND, and by all acounts, was a tremendous teammate and representative of the program.

"That's a challenge," Schweigert said. "Difference-makers is what you're looking for. What was great about Tyler and Aaron Cooper (Cal Poly graduate transfer linebacker) is they fit in to the culture we want. They were good teammates and waited for their opportunity. They also have to be a good fit and be able to handle Grand Forks and UND and the type of teammates we want them to be."


4. UND doesn't have plans to abandon the 3-4

Schweigert was asked about a popular talking point in the fan base recently, that the Fighting Hawks switch from a 3-4 defensive alignment to a 4-3.

"I believe in this defense," Schwegiert said. "Have we changed from when we implemented the 3-4? You bet. We have a lot. We have to create more depth. We were challenged in the last few weeks with our depth on defense. You have to believe in what you believe in.

"This isn't anything new than what we do any other year. We always evolve. This is a different defense than we were coaching in 1991 and 1992. It was different when coach (Dale) Lennon left and I was the defensive coordinator. It was different before our current staff.

"Ultimately, the responsibility is mine. If we have to get better in an area, we need to evaluate that. How we go about doing that is my responsibility. It comes back to me. I don't have a concern about scheme. I have a concern about how we execute, and how we get better on both sides of the ball and special teams. During the last weeks, we have to get better stopping the run, and we know that."

5. UND needs to get bigger and more physical

Schweigert was asked how UND can break into the upper-echelon of the FCS to better compete against the likes of North Dakota State and South Dakota State.

"You have to take a look at opponents and what's making them successful," Schweigert said. "Do we get bigger and more physical? I think we need to do that. I think we've always tried to do that. You also have to be able to run. We'll still stick to the philosophy that if we get bigger, we have to move our feet. As you look at some of the top defenses, they're big up front but they're really athletic at linebacker and can really run.

"(We have to) tackle well in the secondary. The way football is played now, 1-on-1 is the best you can do. You have to win those 1-on-1 matchups. We need to get better at that and look at how we get better at that and that'll improve our football team."

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

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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