The Fighting Sioux Will Bring Attitude…


There is little doubt that the University of North Dakota football team will bring attitude to Washington Grizzly Stadium for Senior Day on Saturday.

And if there is any question whether their talent level is up to snuff for entry into the Big Sky Conference in 2012, all one has to do is take a look at what the Fighting Sioux did in San Luis Obispo last month when they lost a one pointer to then No. 23 Cal Poly, another future BSC team.

That of course is the same Mustang team that started the Grizzly tailspin in the road season opener in California.

Coupled with the initial league loss at Eastern Washington the following week that left the Grizzlies at 1-2, it easily can be argued that Montana has been up against it ever since.

And as Robin Pflugrad pointed out this week, while it’s not quite a one-game season and most of the team’s goals remain on the horizon, the second phase of 2010 Montana football starts Saturday.

UND and Montana had a rich tradition of competition in the mid to late 1960s and early 70s meeting for eight consecutive years mostly during the Jack Swarthout era.

A few times the two teams presumably met at the halfway point on a “neutral” field in Billings which was perfectly suitable for the Fighting Sioux since they won all but one of those four games.

This year marks the last for the Fighting Sioux moniker however.   After a contentious debate, the Grand Forks school will drop the nickname and will soon be choosing a more politically correct replacement.

Not unlike Montana, it’s been a bit of a struggle for UND after starting senior quarterback Jake Landry went down with a season ending injury against Cal Poly.

Although they easily defeated Lamar, which is in its first year of having a football team, the following week they were hammered by UC Davis 35-16 in their home finale.   They closed the game with a sophomore quarterback, Marcus Hendrickson, who’d previously been moved to wide receiver.

Hendrickson’s possible presence makes North Dakota a bit more challenging for Mike Breske’s defense since you don’t have the luxury of much game film to analyze his talents.

Junior Brent Goska started the last two games and is more of a run threat, having rushed for an average of 6.3 yards-per-carry after rushing and throwing about 20 times in each outing.

While standing just 3-6 with their season finale at South Dakota State next week, the Fighting Sioux have seen nothing like Washington Grizzly Stadium and will be hard pressed to emulate the fervor of a Missoula crowd starving for November football.

On defense, UND plays an odd 3-0 front which makes blocking assignments for the Grizzlies a bit different.   The key will be containing sophomore defensive end Ross Brenneman (No. 98) who leads in sacks with four and also has six tackles-for-loss.

Teams have been able to throw against UND but they’ve also given up an average of 150 yards per game on the ground.

How awesome would a break-out game be with Griz-Cat on the horizon?

Saturday, which is the seventh annual National College Football Day marking the celebration of the first ever collegiate game in 1869, is the Griz for Kids Toy Drive headed up by a pair of linebackers, Alex Shaw and Jordan Tripp.

New, unwrapped toys can be dropped at all entrances to the stadium Saturday with the goal to top last year when 3,000 toys and $3,500 were donated. Cash contributions can be made to Missoula Federal Credit Union.

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