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UND football Week 3 primer: How to watch, injuries and matchups with Northern Arizona

UND lost to NAU 31-16 in a 2018 season finale. Two days later, Fighting Hawks head coach Bubba Schweigert parted ways with offensive coordinator Paul Rudolph and offensive line coach Luke Knauf.

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UND's Ethan Ball eyes Northern Iowa quarterback Theo Day during the Fighting Hawks' 29-27 win over the Panthers on Sept. 10, 2022, at the Alerus Center.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The UND football team only has a handful of players remaining from the last trip to Northern Arizona.

It's not a good memory for that group.

UND lost to NAU 31-16 in a 2018 season finale. Two days later, Fighting Hawks head coach Bubba Schweigert parted ways with offensive coordinator Paul Rudolph and offensive line coach Luke Knauf.

UND mustered a brutal 192 yards of total offense against NAU in 2018. UND quarterback Nate Ketteringham threw two interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown, and was sacked six times.

On Saturday, UND will hope Northern Arizona can't derail a promising start to the 2022 season, as the No. 22 Fighting Hawks are coming off a 29-27 win over Northern Iowa.

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It was a breakout game for the UND offense, but the defense struggled in giving up big plays.

On the season, UND has given up eight touchdowns between games against Nebraska and Northern Iowa. Four of those eight scores have come from at least 40 yards away.

"As a defense, you can have a really good game and one play can mess that all up and flip the whole script," UND linebacker Devon Krzanowski said. "It's about guys getting in the film room with coaches and figuring out where their keys are where their eyes need to be and how they can do that consistently.

"Last game, there were mental lapses here and there, and that's why it was a close game at the end. Part of it is UNI is talented, so when you have a mental mistake defensively and you play a team with that type of skill, they're going to find your mistakes and turn it in to a big play."

Big plays have been tough to come by for Northern Arizona this season. In a 40-3 loss to Arizona State in Week 1, NAU's most explosive play was a 15-yard pass from R.J. Martinez to Jamal Glaspie.

In a Week 2 win at Sam Houston State, NAU had two explosive pass plays — a 51-yard Martinez pass and a 41-yard reverse pass from Xander Werner.

The Jacks haven't had a run play longer than 11 yards through two weeks.

"We've got to stop explosive plays as we move forward," Schweigert said. "We're really encouraging the guys that the preparation is the key. You have to know the plan and feel good about the plan, so you can play fast. We have to do this on the road. It's just a must. We have to figure out a way to play for 60 minutes."

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No. 22 UND at Northern Arizona

Kickoff: 3 p.m.

Where: Findlay Toyota Field at J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome (capacity 5,100)

TV: None.

Radio: 96.1 FM (Jack Michaels on play-by-play, Tom Dosch analyst, Paul Ralston sidelines)

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Streaming: ESPN-Plus (Mitch Strohman play-by-play, Kevin Stephens analyst, Lindsey Ridgway sidelines).

Injuries: UND escaped the Northern Iowa game without a ton of injuries. Backup tight end Trae Steckler is expected to be out, so that might ramp up the usage of Jack Ihry or a rookie tight end. Safety Sammy Fort remains out at safety, while guard Brayden Bryant could enter the lineup for the first time this season. Running back Luke Skokna remains out, although Skokna has returned to practice in a limited fashion.

The Fighting Hawks need to establish the running game to slow down the pass rush of Northern Arizona, which rattled Sam Houston State last week. A loud Flagstaff crowd for the home opener won't make it easy for UND to protect Tommy Schuster, who's coming off perhaps the best game of his career against Northern Iowa. Defensively, UND needs to eliminate big plays and find something that clicks at cornerback opposite C.J. Siegel. The safeties will also need to get UND in the right alignment, which appeared to be an issue against Northern Iowa.

The Lumberjacks need to copy the success of last week with their pass rush and not allow Tommy Schuster to be comfortable on a deep drop. UND feared the pass rush against Nebraska but didn't against Northern Iowa, and you can see the different in the offense's ability to hit on big plays when Schuster can have a little extra time in the pocket. Offensively, the Jacks needs to develop some kind of running game, which has been absent through two weeks.

Related Topics: UND FOOTBALLUND SPORTS
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, tmiller@gfherald.com or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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