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UND football players take in 'weird day'

The UND football team met at Memorial Stadium late Monday afternoon with some notable absences. With UND relieving head coach Chris Mussman and his staff of their duties earlier in the day, the team was greeted by athletic director Brian Faison, ...

UND football helmet

The UND football team met at Memorial Stadium late Monday afternoon with some notable absences.

With UND relieving head coach Chris Mussman and his staff of their duties earlier in the day, the team was greeted by athletic director Brian Faison, who discussed the situation.

UND deputy director of athletics Daniella Irle, strength and conditioning coach Nate Baukol and associate director of media relations Ryan Powell also addressed the team.

"It was a weird day," UND quarterback Ryan Bartels said. "People lost their jobs today. They're great guys, so you feel for them and their families."

UND senior running back Jake Miller, a Bismarck native, wished Mussman luck in his future coaching endeavors.

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"The news came as a shock," Miller said. "Coach is a respected guy around here. I'm a senior now and have gone through four years with him, so it's hard to see something like that."

But Miller says he trusts the team will handle the time of uncertainty well.

"This year was a test of that in general," Miller said. "Our guys handled adversity all year. We didn't have the best record and didn't succeed like we wanted to on the field but guys stuck together. This is another hurdle, and I have full confidence the guys will turn the ship around next year."

UND junior safety Baylee Carr, a Hazen, N.D., native, said the team needs leaders to step forward to replace the outgoing senior class.

"You stay together as a team and come back to work," Carr said. "No one was happy with how this season ended. We have to get better. We've always been a close-knit team and should be able to move forward."

However, like any coaching change in college athletics, there still could be a roster shakeup due to player transfers.

"People could transfer; I don't know what people are talking about right now," Bartels said. "There are a lot of questions right now that hopefully get answered in the next couple of weeks. But we need to get the tight-knit group that wants to stay together. We have to stay together and get through it. It's the offseason now, so all we can control is lifting and working hard ... believe we can go out there and turn things around."

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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