Washington coach compliments UND running backs as Hawks prepare for game against Pac 12 power

At his weekly press conference this week, Washington coach Chris Petersen was asked what Pac-12 school North Dakota's offense looks like. There wasn't an easy answer. "Scheme-wise, they're going to be much different," Petersen said. "It could be ...

Washington quarterback Jake Browning rushes for yardage against Auburn last Saturday in Atlanta. Washington will host North Dakota on Saturday in Seattle. Photo/Jason Getz, USA TODAY Sports

At his weekly press conference this week, Washington coach Chris Petersen was asked what Pac-12 school North Dakota’s offense looks like.

There wasn’t an easy answer.

“Scheme-wise, they’re going to be much different,” Petersen said. “It could be 180 degrees different.”

The Huskies, who were ranked No. 9 in Tuesday’s Associated Press FBS poll, will face a Fighting Hawks offense than is far more traditional than those typically seen at the highest level on the West Coast.

UND, 1-0, visits Washington for a 4 p.m. Saturday game at Husky Stadium in Seattle.


“You see all these spread offenses, and they’re not a spread offense,” said Petersen, whose team lost to Auburn of the SEC in Atlanta in Week 1. “They’re a two-back offense … and they’re good at it.”

Petersen noted UND won the Big Sky Conference in 2016 and was the preseason favorite to repeat as league champions in 2017.

“They had all these injuries, which change everything,” Petersen said. “They have some really good tailbacks. One (John Santiago) is a three-time All-American.

“For us, to judge things, (UND) played Utah last year, so you saw some playmakers show up and do some things.”

UND lost to Utah 37-16, and the Utes lost to Washington late in the regular season last year 33-30.

The Fighting Hawks struggled to run the ball against the Utes, finishing with 28 attempts for 55 yards.

Santiago, the FCS’ active leader in career all-purpose yards, had 10 carries for 24 yards.

Fellow running back Brady Oliveira, who was recently ranked a Top 10 prospect for the 2019 CFL draft, had seven carries for 15 yards against the Utes.


Running against the Huskies is expected to be just as challenging.

Washington is a 43-point favorite, according to the gambling site 5dimes.

Petersen remained upbeat after the Week 1 loss, which slid the Huskies from No. 6 to No. 9 in the national poll.

“It all comes down to details when you’re playing evenly matched teams,” Petersen said. “It’s going to be decided by just some really big-time plays by a couple individuals. We’ll get some things tightened up.”


083118 S GFH UNDFB JohnSantiago01.jpg
UND running back John Santiago looks for yardage against Mississippi Valley State last week at the Alerus Center. UND will play No. 9 Washington Saturday in Seattle. Photo/Nick Nelson, Grand Forks Herald

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, or on Twitter at @tommillergf.
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