UND FOOTBALL: Thunderbirds are riding high
When talking college football in Utah, BYU and the University of Utah command nearly all of the attention. Southern Utah? "Most of the high school coaches in this state still think we're a Division II program," said Southern Utah coach Ed Lamb. N...
When talking college football in Utah, BYU and the University of Utah command nearly all of the attention.
"Most of the high school coaches in this state still think we're a Division II program," said Southern Utah coach Ed Lamb.
Not anymore. Not after SUU's convincing 41-16 win at UNLV on Saturday night, a win that accentuates SUU's label as the preseason favorite to win the Great West Conference.
SUU opens Great West play Saturday at home against UND. How the 3-1 Thunderbirds -- ranked No. 19 this week in the Football Championship Subdivision coaches' poll -- handle the notoriety of beating a Football Bowl Subdivision team from the Mountain West Conference is a concern for Lamb.
"I'm concerned about that; that's the challenge," Lamb said. "But the No. 1 thing we have to remember is that we didn't play that well (at UNLV), especially on offense in the first half."
Defensively, however, SUU's big and agile front line limited UNLV's running game to 2.8 yards per carry. And the Thunderbirds' secondary returned three interceptions for touchdowns, including a 74-yarder from Erron Vonner.
But SUU is driven by quarterback Brad Sorensen, a 6-foot-5, 225-pound junior who already has thrown for more than 1,000 yards. He also has a 135.99 quarterback efficiency rating as he's completed 67 percent of his passes.
UND's big challenge in Cedar City will be to hold Sorensen in check.
"He's a smart player and he's the one that makes them go," UND coach Chris Mussman said. "I'd rank him as the best quarterback we've played at the FCS level."
SUU won last season's Great West title. SUU's 31-21 win at UND was the turning point since the Thunderbirds entered with a 1-4 record. SUU finished 6-5, losing its regular-season finale to Eastern Washington -- the eventual FCS national champion.
The Thunderbirds' win at UNLV put them on the radar in Utah, a victory that Lamb said will open a lot more recruiting doors in the state.
But was it the biggest win in the program's history?
"A lot of people around here have been asking me that," Lamb said. Instead of a yes or no answer, Lamb said SUU's focus is on the Great West title.
SUU fans, however, likely will answer yes to that question. A lot of SUU fans got to watch the win at UNLV, a 2½-hour drive from Cedar City.
"It was a special night," Lamb said. "We had about 5,000 fans sitting behind our bench. At the end of the game, we even had some UNLV fans cheering for us."
Nelson reports on sports. Reach him at (701) 780-1268; (800) 477-6572, ext. 268; or send e-mail to email@example.com .