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WAYNE NELSON: For UND football, it's 'Leave No Doubt'

On Nov. 21, 2015, UND beat Cal Poly 45-21 in San Luis Obispo, a win that capped the regular season and gave the Fighting Hawks a 7-4 record. Seven wins, in preceding years, virtually guaranteed an NCAA FCS playoff berth. In two short years, it ap...

UND Football head coach Bubba Schweigert speaks at UND football media day, held at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. on August 4, 2016. (Meg Oliphant/Grand Forks Herald)
UND Football running back, #22 John Santiago is interviewed at UND football media day, held at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks, N.D. on August 4, 2016. (Meg Oliphant/Grand Forks Herald)

On Nov. 21, 2015, UND beat Cal Poly 45-21 in San Luis Obispo, a win that capped the regular season and gave the Fighting Hawks a 7-4 record.

Seven wins, in preceding years, virtually guaranteed an NCAA FCS playoff berth. In two short years, it appeared, UND coach Bubba Schweigert had turned around the Hawks' football program. No way could the NCAA keep the Hawks out of the playoffs, considering their record, their late-season surge and a win over an FBS program (Wyoming).

Wrong.

The NCAA (No Clue At All, in this case) kept UND out of the playoffs, a snub that left a sting.

"I remember sitting at home and watching the selection show with my roommates," said UND senior tight end Luke Mathewson. "We expected to get in. Not seeing our name up there ... definitely there was a lot of disappointment."

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But the page has been turned at Memorial Stadium.

And that was the clear message delivered Thursday during the team's annual media day at the Alerus Center.

There is a new motto for UND football these days. It's "Leave No Doubt."

"If there is a doubt in their mind, we have to take care of that this year," said Mathewson. "That's our motivation."

The sting of last year's snub?

That was checked at the Memorial Stadium doors when UND players returned for winter workouts in January.

"My family and friends said we should have got into the playoffs," added Mathewson. "We were disappointed but as soon as we came back to work, we knew there wasn't anything we could do about it. So, it was full steam ahead."

Bubba agreed.

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"We turned that page in the winter," said Bubba. "We wrapped up the season, took finals, and when guys came back in January we wanted to focus on what we wanted to do in winter training to get better. And what really helped us was the High Performance Center. We had a chance to get our team better in the winter."

By a number of accounts, that happened.

It's Year 3 of Bubba's program at UND. There are high expectations. The Hawks are ranked nationally in a handful of FCS polls.

And a number of players with experience return.

"We have a talented group but we have a lot of guys on the same page who are working for the exact same thing," said Mathewson. "There is a lot of trust on this team. You can count on this team and I'm excited about that. And we have a lot of young talent that is humble and ready to get to work."

That work starts today when UND holds its first practice of the fall camp.

Last year, players likely will be reminded, is over and won't change. This year, it's all about making a difference and leaving no doubt in the mind of the NCAA selection committee.

And how do you do that?

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"You leave no doubt by being the same guy every day and getting better every day," said Bubba. "The results on the scoreboard are reflected in what we do in our day-to-day operations."

Wayne Nelson is the sports editor at the Herald.


He has been with the Grand Forks Herald since 1995, serving as the UND football and basketball beat writer as well as serving as the sports editor.



He is a UND graduate and has been writing sports since the late 1970s.



Follow him on Twitter @waynenelsongf. You can reach him at (701) 780-1268 or wnelson@gfherald.com.
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