UND readies for UC Davis QB, another high-powered passing attack

UND's Brady Oliveira runs for yardage against UC Davis on Saturday night, Sept. 30, 2017, in a Big Sky Conference game at Aggie Stadium. (Wayne Tilcock / Davis Enterprise)
UND's Brady Oliveira runs for yardage against UC Davis on Saturday night, Sapt. 30, in a Big Sky Conference game at Aggie Stadium. (Wayne Tilcock / Davis Enterprise)

When UND went to UC Davis in 2017, the passing combination of quarterback Jake Maier and wide receiver Keelan Doss powered the Aggies to a 48-24 victory and a UC Davis Division I record 651 yards of total offense.

Doss is now playing for the Oakland Raiders but Maier remains a mighty opponent for a Fighting Hawks defense ranking No. 1 in the country in pass defense.

UND (2-3) hosts No. 12 UC Davis (2-3) on Saturday at 1 p.m. in a homecoming game at the Alerus Center. The Aggies present UND a fourth-straight opponent ranked in the Top 25, which is the first such stretch since UND's run in the 2004 NCAA Division II playoffs.

"Maier is one of the best quarterbacks in the country," UND coach Bubba Schweigert said. "He's really difficult to defend. We're going to have to have a good plan and play well to contain their offense."

Maier, a Walter Payton Award candidate, surpassed the career 9,000-yard milestone during last weekend's home loss to Montana. Only UC Davis quarterback J.T. O'Sullivan (10,475 from 1998-2001) has broken the 10,000-yard barrier for the Aggies.


Maier's three touchdowns against the Griz last Saturday give him 70 for his career, which is second in school history. O'Sullivan, who UND knocked off in a classic 14-2 matchup at the Alerus Center in the NCAA Division II playoffs, threw 96 career touchdowns.

Maier, a three-year Aggie starter, extended his UC Davis record for career completions to 817. He has thrown for at least 300 yards in a game 18 times.

UND will play its third straight game against a high-powered passing attack, following a win against Sam Houston State and a loss at Eastern Washington.

The Fighting Hawks are giving up an FCS-best 107.0 yards per game through the air.

UND has held its opponent under 200 yards passing through four straight games for the first time since 2007 when UND was still a member of NCAA Division II.

The Fighting Hawks used plenty of help from windy, wintry conditions to limit EWU last Saturday. Eagles quarterback Eric Barriere, who entered the game against UND as the nation's leading passer, was held to just 93 yards and zero touchdowns passing. The total is his liwest since taking over as the starter in 2017 and the fewest by an EWU team since Oct. 31, 1998.

UND has been able to register strong pass defense numbers despite shaking up the starting lineup in the secondary due to injuries.

Expected starting cornerback, senior Evan Holm, has yet to play this season and is longer on the team's weekly two-deep depth chart. Safety Leonard Nelson IV, who started games early this year, was injured three weeks ago. In his place, Hayden Galvin is expected to start for the third week in a row against Davis, although Nelson is expected to be in the rotation, too.


"It started with Sam Houston, and we were told Eastern and UC Davis ... they're all kind of similar offenses ... and they're equal running and passing," UND defensive end Mason Bennett said. "They have a good QB in there. We're ready for the challenge."

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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