1. UND doesn't bite on MVFC dunking
Much has been made about the expected struggles of UND in its first season in the Missouri Valley Football Conference.
After two weeks, though, the Fighting Hawks are the only conference member standing at 2-0 after Saturday's surprising 28-17 win over No. 3 South Dakota State at the Alerus Center.
Yet, UND coach Bubba Schweigert and his players didn't take any of the bait in the postgame press conference to do any end-zone dancing.
"If you're doing a good job with your team, you didn't listen to what people think about you because the only thing that can do is distract and hurt you," Schweigert said. "I imagine our guys hear some of that, but we've said a million times we were appreciative of the Big Sky Conference, and we were looking forward to playing in the Missouri Valley."
Said UND safety Jordan Canady: "Obviously, we heard all the news and tweets. That stuff doesn't mean much to us. We played a lot of good teams, and the Big Sky is a great conference. We've been in battles before."
2. UND's special teams were special
UND had one of its best special teams days in program history.
The Fighting Hawks blocked a punt, a field goal, ran a successful fake punt, had three touchbacks and returned a kick 39 yards.
Graham DeVore blocked the kick, Ty Shannon blocked the punt, St. Cloud State transfer kicker Adam Stage put three of his five kickoffs into the end zone and Luke Skokna had the 39-yard kick return.
On the fake punt, UND punter Cade Peterson threw a short pass over the middle to Garett Maag, who ran for more than 20 yards.
"You put 11 guys out there, one doesn't do his job, and it looks really bad," veteran South Dakota State coach John Stiegelmeier said. "One young guy blocked the same guy another did (on the punt block). We flinched, blocked the wrong guy, and it's the simplest thing. It gave UND a ton of momentum. We're disappointed.
"The blocked field goal is a young man just being 70 percent in his job, and you don't play 70 percent in the Missouri Valley Football Conference. That was more disappointing than the punt block."
3. Marcus Preston has strong showing
UND rookie wide receiver Marcus Preston made his first career catches against South Dakota State, and they came at crucial times.
The Lawrence, Kan., native was held without a catch in some limited opportunities the week before against Southern Illinois. Against the Jackrabbits, Preston made four catches for 31 yards including a key 21-yard pickup on an out route on third-and-1 from the UND 39 in the fourth quarter.
That gain on third down set the stage for Otis Weah's game-clinching 40-yard touchdown run down the sideline.
The 6-foot-2 Preston has made for an impressive freshman combination with rookie wide receiver Bo Belquist, who followed up his first touchdown catch against Southern Illinois with two grabs for 24 yards against SDSU.
4. Josh Navratil emerging at linebacker
The UND defense is also receiving production from a freshman.
Linebacker Josh Navratil, a Pine Island, Minn., native, has strung together two impressive performances to begin his Fighting Hawks career.
After registering seven tackles, half a sack and a pass breakup in his debut against Southern Illinois, Navratil had five tackles and a sack against South Dakota State. Navratil also recovered Ty Shannon's blocked punt in the third quarter.
Navratil's sack against SDSU came at a crucial moment. The Jacks faced third-and-8 from the SDSU 42 and Navratil's sack forced a punt with about nine minutes remaining.
On UND's next drive, Weah put UND up 11 points.
5. Turner performs despite injuries
UND linebacker and captain Jaxson Turner has been a key piece of the Fighting Hawks' defense the past couple of seasons but injuries have limited some of his production.
On two different occasions against South Dakota State, the injury bug looked to have bit Turner again. Twice he appeared to limp off the field.
However, Turner returned and sparked a strong UND pass rush in the second half.
The starting outside linebacker from Esko, Minn., had a strip sack of SDSU quarterback Mark Gronowski in the fourth quarter to give the Hawks good field position.
Turner finished with two tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a quarterback hurry.
UND didn't immediately appear to suffer any other injuries against the Jacks.