UND FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: UND ready to take on Idaho after last season's loss

MOSCOW, Idaho -- UND left the Kibbie Dome a year ago disappointed that its 45-0 loss against Idaho didn't accurately represent the disparity between the two teams.

UND football helmets

MOSCOW, Idaho -- UND left the Kibbie Dome a year ago disappointed that its 45-0 loss against Idaho didn't accurately represent the disparity between the two teams.

So, as the Sioux return to the scene of the blowout Saturday, they're out to prove they can be competitive with the Vandals -- a Football Bowl Subdivision program.

"We were a better football team than we displayed," UND coach Chris Mussman said. "We felt like at times we could play with Idaho."

But the Sioux turned the ball over five times, were called for two penalties in the red zone, and failed to recover an onside kick to open the second half.

"That's how it snowballs," Mussman said.


UND quarterback Joey Bradley wasn't with the Sioux last season, but he's aware of what transpired.

"Everyone has a memory of what it was like last year," Bradley said. "We'd like to change that. We're hungry this year."

Mussman said the Sioux can be encouraged by the improvements that were made between Weeks 1 and 2 of last season.

After UND's loss to Idaho, the Sioux had Northern Illinois on the ropes before losing 23-17, a game in which UND had the ball deep in Northern Illinois territory late in the game. Northern Illinois went on to have a strong season, routing Fresno State in the Humanitarian Bowl.

Positives and negatives

In his first Division I start, Bradley received mostly positive reviews from coaches and teammates.

"I like the way we moved the ball and liked the way Joey was throwing it around," UND offensive lineman Joe Kleason said. "As an offense, we should be able to run the ball all year. That should help Joey throw the ball as our new quarterback."

In assessing Bradley, Mussman pointed out the Sioux converted 8-of-12 third-down plays in the first half.


However, the coach also mentioned Bradley made a few poor decisions while maneuvering in the pocket.

Bradley felt he managed his first game well.

"Anytime the 'D' pitches a shutout, as long as you don't screw anything up, you should get a 'W,' " Bradley said. "I didn't force anything, but at the same time, I think we need to take a few more shots downfield and get a vertical passing game going this week."

Cleaning it up

UND's 12 penalties for 98 yards against Drake was a focus this week in practice.

"Playing at Idaho last season, we had lots of penalties in that (season opener), too," Kleason said. "Going into this week, it should take care of itself. We have to be more disciplined."

Mussman said the Sioux also learned their lesson by taking two defensive substitution penalties. Drake's no-huddle offense caught the Sioux by surprise on two occasions.

The coach also questioned a couple of the holding calls.


"But we've got to move our feet," Mussman said. "I don't think we were holding, but our feet were in a bad spot. A lot of that might be first-game jitters."

Idaho prepared

As a Division I FBS program, Idaho will be favored to beat the Sioux, an FCS program.

But that doesn't mean much to Idaho coach Robb Akey.

Last week, Sacramento State of the Big Sky Conference captured a road win at FBS program Oregon State.

"Some people say we're supposed to beat North Dakota because they're an FCS team," Akey said. "Ask Oregon State what they thought about Sac State going into that game.

"North Dakota would love nothing more to come in here and do that to us. I have a ton of respect for North Dakota. They know what they're getting into and they want to come out here and get after us."

Fresno investigation


As many as two dozen Fresno State University football players have been implicated in a welfare fraud investigation involving a county Department of Social Services eligibility specialist who is accused of filing false benefits for them and others, according to the Associated Press.

University officials said in a written statement Friday that the athletes have been punished. But they declined to comment further, saying they don't want to impede the criminal investigation.

The allegations involve members of the 2010 squad, many of whom are still on the team this year. No names have been released.

A former Fresno County Social Services eligibility specialist was arrested last month but not charged on allegations he fraudulently applied for Electronic Benefit Transfer cards -- formerly known as food stamp benefits -- for the players and others.

UND plays at Fresno State next Saturday.


- OL Brandon Quesenberry's ankle injury appears to be more serious than originally expected. The fifth-year senior could be out for the season.

- TE Seth Nichols, who missed the season opener, is questionable for Idaho but did make the trip.


- Bradley, who is from Issaquah, Wash., said he expects a big turnout of family and friends. He also has a number of connections with the Vandals, who have a strong recruiting presence in Washington.

- The only change from last week on the two-deep depth chart, apart from Quesenberry's injury at right tackle, is at right cornerback, where redshirt freshman Daryl Brown will start in place of sophomore Chris Hall.

- The Great West Conference will take on the Big Sky Conference in four games Saturday. Eastern Washington, the No. 1 FCS team in the country, will play at Great West member South Dakota; Sacramento State is at Southern Utah of the Great West; Cal Poly is at Big Sky member Montana; and UC Davis is at Big Sky member Montana State. This is the last season of the Great West Conference. Next season, Cal Poly, UC Davis and Southern Utah will become Big Sky members. UND also moves to the Big Sky next season.

Miller reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1121; (800) 477-6572, ext. 121; or send e-mail to .

Miller has covered sports at the Grand Forks Herald since 2004 and was the state sportswriter of the year in 2019 and 2022.

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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