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UND FOOTBALL: North Dakota ranks 11th in the Big Sky in penalty yardage

UND football's road victory over Idaho State last Saturday came to fruition in spite of a few North Dakota shortcomings. The most glaring of those aspects was penalty yardage. UND was flagged 14 times for 121 yards, including four 15-yard persona...

UND football helmets

UND football's road victory over Idaho State last Saturday came to fruition in spite of a few North Dakota shortcomings.

The most glaring of those aspects was penalty yardage. UND was flagged 14 times for 121 yards, including four 15-yard personal foul penalties.

That's the most penalty yardage since Oct. 30, 2010, when UND was penalized 153 yards in a win over Lamar.

North Dakota coach Chris Mussman said he can live with the penalties that come as a result of playing hard. However, there are plenty of other penalty varieties that need to be avoided if UND is going to compete with No. 6 Eastern Washington on Saturday at the Alerus Center.

"It's the ones that become selfish," he said. "I was shoved, so I shove him back ... those are the ones that are boneheaded. The ones where we aren't concentrating and we forget the snap count so we flinch. Those are the ones we continue to do.

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"Our guys need to be more focused and understand the situation."

UND is averaging 74.6 penalty yards per game, which ranks 11th in the Big Sky Conference. The only programs penalized more this year are Idaho State and Portland State.

The gap in penalty yards for UND and its opponents also is wide. UND ranks 12th in the conference in opponent penalties. The team's opponents have been flagged for just more than 42 yards per game.

"Everyone needs to be accountable," UND quarterback Joe Mollberg said. "We have to keep getting better and that starts today. There's a long season in front of us."

UND has been penalized 100 or more yards twice this season now. Against South Dakota State, UND received 10 flags for 107 yards.

Part of UND's problem against Idaho State -- North Dakota's first road trip of the year -- was the noise generated by the homecoming crowd of almost 8,000 at Holt Arena.

"Procedural penalties continue to plague us," Mussman said. "We had an opportunity offensively to put the game away when we had the ball up 21-10. We didn't do it. That's the disheartening thing."

UND's penalties also helped the Bengals' scoring drives. On ISU's first touchdown drive, UND forced an incompletion on third down but the drive was extended when true freshman safety Cam Kuksa received a spearing penalty.

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Entering the team's sixth game of the season, Mussman said youth is no longer an excuse for the miscues.

"No one is a freshman anymore," he said. "Guys should be able to grow up and avoid the stupid penalties."

Miller reports on sports. Call him at (701) 780-1121, (800) 477-6572 ext. 1121 or send e-mail to tmiller@gfherald.com .

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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