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UND FOOTBALL: Expecting a bruising matchup

UND junior safety Cole Reyes remembers the last time he faced Stony Brook, a 13-3 win in 2014 at the Alerus Center. "It was one of the most physical games I've ever been in as a football player," Reyes said. The No. 19 Fighting Hawks expect the s...

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UND junior safety Cole Reyes remembers the last time he faced Stony Brook, a 13-3 win in 2014 at the Alerus Center.

"It was one of the most physical games I've ever been in as a football player," Reyes said.

The No. 19 Fighting Hawks expect the same style at 6 p.m. Thursday in the season opener on Long Island at Stony Brook's Kenneth P. Lavale Stadium.

"They're a big, physical team," UND senior tight end Luke Mathewson said. "We expect it to be one of the more physical teams based on their sheer size and game plan."

Stony Brook's offensive setup will look similar to UND with big-bodied personnel. The physical style is a contrast to UND's usual Big Sky Conference foes.

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The Fighting Hawks also will face a different style of play the following two weeks-at Bowling Green and at home against South Dakota. USD and Bowling Green employ more of a fast-paced pass attack.

"We know the staff and the style they want to play," said UND coach Bubba Schweigert, who faced the Seawolves in his first season in 2014. "That's a real challenge. We have a tremendous amount of respect for the team we are playing."

The Seawolves were stingy on defense in 2015. SBU, which went 5-5 a year ago, led the Colonial Athletic Association in scoring defense (15.7 points per game), rushing defense (104.6 yards per game), passing defense (145.5 ypg) and total defense (250.1 ypg).

SBU returns seven starters from that stout defense, but the Seawolves did lose 2015's top two tacklers in Naim Cheesboro and Julian Quinton. SBU also lost 2015 CAA sack leader Victor Ochi, who signed with the Baltimore Ravens as an undrafted free agent after breaking the SBU career sacks record.

"On defense, we don't see any real weaknesses," Schweigert said. "We expect them to be the same type of defense. When they come out of the locker room, they'll look the part. And they back it up with good, sound play, too."

SBU's offense is expected to be the run-first variety. Running back Stacy Bedell was off to a fast start in 2015, racking up 351 yards in two-plus games before an injury against No. 25 William & Mary. He had 193 yards rushing and a touchdown in a 31-6 win over No. 13 New Hampshire.

SBU sophomore quarterback Joe Carbone, meanwhile, is unproven. He had 617 passing yards last year with two touchdowns and eight interceptions.

"I'm looking forward to it," Mathewson said. "I like the physical games where you're cracking heads every play."

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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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