UND football: Sioux hope to draw on '09 experience
The middle of October wasn't a stretch for UND to remember during the 2009 season. A disappointing loss against NAIA power Sioux Falls and a decisive road defeat at Southern Utah left UND with a 3-4 record heading into a home game against nationa...
The middle of October wasn't a stretch for UND to remember during the 2009 season. A disappointing loss against NAIA power Sioux Falls and a decisive road defeat at Southern Utah left UND with a 3-4 record heading into a home game against nationally-ranked Cal Poly.
The Sioux responded with perhaps their best game as a fledgling FCS program, beating the Mustangs 31-17. It was a win that helped UND avoid a losing season.
Cal Poly is UND's opponent Saturday in San Luis Obispo, Calif., where the Sioux again hope to break a two-game losing streak and produce a strong finish in their fourth Division I FCS season.
"The circumstances are a little different," UND coach Chris Mussman said. "But we can play and compete with those guys. That will be our focus more than anything."
Cal Poly is ranked No. 23 this week and will be playing its first home game since Sept. 11. The Mustangs spent five straight weeks on the road, leaving UND the unenviable task of playing a team that's likely a bit surly from spending countless hours in airplanes, airports and buses.
But UND also is playing a team that runs the triple option, a rarity in college football. That may be a good thing for the Sioux.
UND's 3-4 defensive alignment has been largely successful in stopping option teams ever since the Sioux coaching staff installed the defense back in the early 1990s.
"It'll be good for us defensively," Sioux defensive back Mitch Kudrna said of Saturday's game. "We did really well against them last year. It's something we think we can do again."
UND rallied from a 17-7 deficit a year ago at the Alerus Center to beat Cal Poly. The Sioux held Cal Poly to 62 rushing yards on 27 carries. The Mustangs managed only 265 yards of offense against UND's 3-4 defense.
Roles to play
But there is a risk playing the triple option.
"It's all about assignments," UND defensive back Dominique Hawkins said. "It you mess up on your assignment and don't do your thing, you're in trouble."
UND is 2-4 overall and 0-2 in the Great West Conference. UND is out of the Great West title picture but Cal Poly, at 0-1, can make a run at a title if it beats UND, South Dakota and UC Davis in the final month of the season.
UND's focus is on improvement, just like it was last season at this time.
"We stressed at the beginning of the year that our focus was on the task at hand," Mussman said. "We're a young team and we can't think too far into the future. You have to think about today's practice. It's a moment-by-moment mentality."
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Who: UND at Cal Poly.
When: 8:05 p.m, Saturday, San Luis Obispo, Calif.
Radio: The Fox (96.1 FM), Dan Hammer play-by-play, Mike Berg analysis.
Records: UND 2-4; Cal Poly 4-3.
Of note: Cal Poly qualified for the FCS playoffs in 2005 and 2008.