FIRST-EVER MEETING WITH MINOT STATE SATURDAY NEXT UP FOR NINTH-RANKED BULLDOGS
Thursday, October 11, 2012
The University of Minnesota Duluth has done battle with 70 different opponents during its storied 80-year history and this Saturday afternoon (Oct. 13) the Bulldogs will add a new entry to that list when they face Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference newcomer Minot State University. Opening kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. at Herb Parker Stadium in Minot, N.D.
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THE RECORDS: UMD, the four-time reigning NSIC champions, is 5-1 both overall and league play this fall while Minot State sports a 1-5 record.
HOW THEY RANK: Here is how UMD and Minot State stacked up in this week's American Football Coaches Association Division II and the D2Football.com polls.
UMD No. 9 No. 9
MSU NR NR
THE BROADCAST: The Bulldog-Beaver matchup will be carried on 1490 The Fan (KQDS-AM) with Jeff Papas handling the play-by-play responsibilities. The broadcast can also be heard on KQ 105.5 FM in Grand Rapids/Hibbing , KQ 106.7 FM in Ely/Virginia and at: www.fan1490.com.
In addition, Saturday's game will be videostreammed live and can be accessed for free at: www.nsic.nmtvsports.com.
THE COACH: The numbers certainly speak for themselves. Two NCAA II national championships, five NSIC titles (including the last four in a row), three perfect 11-0 regular seasons, five NCAA II playoff appearances, 95 victories and a .790 overall winning percentage. Bob Nielson has accomplished all this -- and much more -- in his nine-plus seasons of head coaching activity at UMD.
Last fall, Nielson directed his charges, which included 15 All-NSIC picks and a quartet of All-Americans, to an 11-3 overall record and a quarterfinal round berth (their fourth in as many years) in the NCAA II playoffs before bowing out to eventual national runnerup Wayne State University. In 2010, the Bulldogs did something no other NCAA II club had ever been able to do – finish 15-0 for a second time. Along the way, UMD brought home the school’s second NCAA II title and third consecutive NSIC crown (a program first), amassing a 10-0 league mark for the third time in as many years. For his efforts, Nielson was bestowed with two of the most prestigious national coaching honors in Division II football – the American Football Coaches Association DII Coach of the Year and the Liberty Mutual DII Coach of the Year awards – in addition to being selected for that same honor by Don Hansen’s Football Gazette and the NSIC.
Nielson returned to the UMD sidelines in 2008 following a four-season hiatus and proceeded to oversee one of the most impressive one-year turnarounds in NCAA Division II history, taking a club which had gone 4-6 in 2007 and molding it into a national champion. Along the way, his Bulldogs rolled up a 15-0 overall mark (only the third NCAA II team to ever accomplish that feat), set or equaled 50 team and individual records, captured the NSIC title and turned out a whopping nine All-Americans. He followed that up two years ago by going 11-2 in all games and advancing to the quarterfinal round of the NCAA II playoffs.
Named the 2008 NCAA II Coach of the Year by American Football Monthly magazine, D2Football.com, and the Football Gazette, Nielson now owns a dazzling 95-25 overall record at UMD (that .792 winning percentage is far and away the best mark in the program’s storied 80-year existence) and is 165-58-1 (.739) in his 20 seasons of coaching at the collegiate level.
Nielson, a three-time NSIC Coach of the Year honoree (2010, 2008 and 2002) whose first tour of duty with the Bulldogs ran from 1999-2003, was officially appointed to his old post on Jan. 3, 2008. (He continues to also serve as UMD’s athletic director, a position he’s held since 2003-04). During his five previous years with the Bulldogs, Nielson helped marshal the UMD program to new heights. In 2002, for example, his Bulldogs posted their second unbeaten, untied regular season record at that time (11-0), advanced to the NCAA II playoffs for the first time ever and captured the NSIC championship. Nielson's resume also includes directing UMD to its inaugural post-season appearance (the 2001 Mineral Water Bowl in Excelsior Springs, Mo.) and the school's second greatest one-year turnaround to date (the Bulldogs went 7-4 in 2000 after managing a 3-8 mark the previous fall).
The runnerup for the 2002 American Football Monthly magazine NCAA II Coach of the Year award, Nielson, 53, joined the UMD staff in the spring of 1999 after he had guided the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire to a share of the 1998 Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference title (its first since 1983) and an initial berth in the NCAA III playoffs. He amassed a record of 22-11 in three years with the Blugolds, including a 10-3 mark in his farewell season when Wisconsin-Eau Claire notched a team standard for victories. Nielson, the Football Gazette’s 1998 Division III Coach of the Year, also was employed for five years as the head football coach at his alma mater, Wartburg College, where he strung together five successive non-losing seasons and attained a pair of back-to-back NCAA III playoff berths (1993 and 1994), and for two years at Ripon College (1989-90).
NIELSON BY THE NUMBERS
Record at UMD (Year) 95-25 (10th)
Overall Coaching Record (Year) 165-58-1 (20th)
Career NSIC Record 73-15
Career NCAA II Playoff Record 11-3
Career Home Record (UMD) 50-8
Career Away Record (UMD) 45-17
vs. Minot State (Overall) 0-0
vs. Minot State (UMD) 0-0
THE SERIES: The Bulldogs and Beavers will meet for the first time ever Saturday.
LAST WEEK: One week after suffering only its third regular season loss since the second week of the 2009 season, UMD got back on the winning track by rolling past Minnesota State University-Moorhead 45-14 Saturday night at James S. Malosky Stadium. Six different Bulldogs had touchdowns and UMD scored the final 24 points of the game while downing the winless Dragons (0-6) for 11th consecutive time. UMD took a 28-14 lead into the halftime break after getting rushing touchdowns from freshman running back Logan Lauters, sophomore running back Brian Lucas, and junior running back Jeron Johnson and a 28-yard scoring strike from senior quarterback Chase Vogler to sophomore wide out Zach Zweifel. Junior running backs Chaz Thomas and Steve Ierulli sandwiched second-half touchdown runs around rookie Andrew Brees's 36-yard field to complete the Hall of Fame Game triumph. Defensively, the Bulldogs gave up just 90 yards of total offense the entire second half (295 for the night) and, for the second straight week, recorded a season-best four sacks -- including a pair by sophomore defensive end Jacob Brusehaver.
Minot State mustered just nine first downs and 41 yards on the ground (on 23 carries) in a 31-17 setback to Northern State University Saturday in Aberdeen, S.D. Quarterback Zac Cunha completed 12 of 30 passes for 229 yards and one touchdown against the Wolves, who ran 88 plays on the day compared to just 53 for Minot State and held a near 2-1 advantage in time of possession (38:31 to 21:29)
THIS IS YOUR CAPTAIN SPEAKING: The Bulldogs' team captaincy responsibilities this fall are being shared by a quintet of seniors -- injured defensive end Joe Akey, free safety Cameron Harper, offensive guard Garth Heikkinen, tight end Ben Helmer and quarterback Chase Vogler.
ANOTHER FAVORABLE NSIC FORECAST: In their annual preseason poll, the NSIC coaches again picked the four-time defending league champion Bulldogs to top the 2012 standings. This is nothing new for UMD, which has been tabbed the NSIC preseason favorite in each of its last six years of league membership (2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008 and 2003). St. Cloud State was targeted for a runnerup finish behind the Bulldogs while reigning South Division kingpin Minnesota State University-Mankato was slotted third in the expanded 16-team NSIC.
LET'S GET THIS SHOW ON THE ROAD: In its last 32 games away from Malosky Stadium (a run which began with a 23-13 win over St. Cloud State in the 2007 season finale), UMD has gone 29-3. Two of those losses came at the hands of St. Cloud State (51-49 two weeks ago and 35-7 on Oct. 29, 2011) while the other was inflicted by Wayne State College (7-0 on Sept. 17, 2011).
START ME UP: All-American senior offensive guard Garth Heikkinen has cracked the UMD starting lineup in every game since the opening of the 2009 season and this past Saturday night at Malosky Stadium the three-time All-NSIC honoree set a program record by making his 48th consecutive start. The previous ironman mark of 47 starts was set by All-American quarterback and one-time Harlon Hill Award quarterfinalist Ted Schlafke from 2005-08.
ON THE RUN: UMD continues to pace the NSIC and is 13th among all NCAA II clubs in rushing with a 239.8 yards per game average. The Bulldogs, who as a team are averaging 5.5 yards a carry this fall, have produced a 100-yard rusher in four of their six games to date including:
Date Player (Opp) Att. Yards TD
Aug. 30 Logan Lauters (SMSU) 9 104 1
Sept. 8 Austin Sikorski (WSU) 16 113 2
Sept. 15 Chase Vogler (CSP) 10 100 2
Sept. 29 Chase Vogler (SCSU) 14 120 2
CUTTING TO THE CHASE: Senior Chase Vogler, who last month was selected the D2Football.com National Offensive Player of the Week for his exemplary night at Concordia University-St. Paul, currently ranks 15th in the country -- and first in the NSIC -- in passing efficiency (156.16). The Inver Grove Heights, Minn., native will head into this weekend still holding down the No. 3 spot on UMD's all-time charts for both passing yardage (6,527) and total offense (8,853 yards). In 48 career appearances with the Bulldogs, Vogler has completed 62.9 percent of his throws and has also run for more yards (2,326 for a 5.3 yards per carry average) than any UMD field general. He's also a remarkable 41-5 as a starter since assuming that role three years back as a first-year freshman. Those 41 victories are not only a UMD record, but they are the tops among all current NCAA II quarterbacks.
SOMETHING SPECIAL: True sophomore Aaron Roth owns the best kickoff return average in the country at the moment (39.0) and is the first Bulldog in 12 years (since Cash Langeness) to bring back two kicks for touchdowns in the same seasons (he hit pay dirt in each of the Bulldogs' two home games to date).
CHART CLIMBER: Third-year starting free safety Cameron Harper, who is one of three Bulldogs to take part in all 48 games over the past three-plus seasons (quarterback Chase Vogler and offensive guard Garth Heikkinen are the two others), now ranks ninth on UMD's all-time tackles list with 247 stops. Harper's former defensive secondary mate, strong safety Cody Eich (2008-11) occupies the No. 8 spot on that same chart with 249 stops.
THE DRIVE FOR FIVE: The 2012 Bulldogs have their collective sights on becoming the second school ever -- and first in nearly 60 years -- to lay claim to five consecutive NSIC titles. UMD, the league's first four-peat champions since 1978 (the University of Minnesota-Morris) is looking to join St. Cloud State (1951-55) in that exclusive group.
WIN, BABY, WIN: Since the start of the 2008, no NCAA II program in the country has amassed more victories (57) or a better winning percentage (.905 off a 57-6 record). Northwest Missouri State University is next in each of those categories (55-9, .859).
THE GIFT OF GRAB: Wide receiver Zach Zweifel, UMD's pass reception leader one year ago as a true freshman, paces the Bulldogs in that same department this fall with 22 catches for a team-leading 342 yards. He is one of 13 Bulldogs to latch on to at least one pass thus far in 2012.
GETTING HIS KICKS: Redshirted freshman Andrew Brees, who spent last season watching David Nadeau put the finishing touches on the most prolific placekicking career in UMD history, has been perfect in extra point boots (38-of-38) and is 3-of-4 in field goal tries as a collegian. Earlier this year in UMD's 70-24 throttling of Concordia-St. Paul, Brees matched a Bulldog single-game record by nailing 10 point-afters.
BULLDOG BITS: UMD just finished a stretch in which it played a program-high six straight night games. Prior to this year, no regular season Bulldog schedule had included more than four outings under the lights ... Redshirted freshman outside linebacker Nathan Zibolski made his first collegiate start this past Saturday night in place of injured sophomore Gavin Brown and responded by making six total tackles in addition to forcing one fumble in UMD's 45-14 triumph over Minnesota State-Moorhead ... UMD has outscored the opposition 165-77 in the opening two quarters this season ... Three UMD starters -- Gavin Brown, junior running back Austin Sikorski and junior wide out Joe Reichert all sat out last Saturday's bout with Minnesota State-Moorhead while nursing injuries ... While the Bulldogs have done a terrific job of protecting the football (just three picks and no lost fumbles in six outings thus far) they have created a mere five turnovers of their own -- two fumble recovery (by sophomore nose tackle Buma Foncham versus Minnesota State-Moorhead last Saturday and junior free safety Travis Nordhus against Winona State University) and three interceptions (by junior cornerback Chris Blake at St. Cloud State two weeks ago, junior inside linebacker Colby Ring versus Augustana College and junior cornerback Kenny Chowa at Southwest Minnesota State University) ... Cornerback Darion Fletcher, who has started three of the past four games, is UMD's only true freshman to see playing time thus far in 2012 ... The Bulldogs are now 94-2 in the last 96 outings they've been ahead after three quarters -- a run which dates back to November 2001. One of those two losses occurred just two Saturdays ago at St. Cloud State ... UMD is the nation's fourth highest scoring team at the moment (48.2 points per game), but ranks 80th in scoring defense (26.5 ppg) ... The 2012 season marks the first time in the 80-year history of UMD football that the entire regular season schedule consists of conference games only ...With the exception of two occasions (Sept. 19, 2011 and Oct. 31, 2011), UMD has cracked the Top 10 in every AFCA II poll since Sept. 29, 2008. It did maintain the top spot in that ranking from Nov. 2, 2010 until after its 7-0 loss to Wayne State College (Sept. 17), when it tumbled to No. 11 ... The Bulldogs have already equaled a team single-season record for kickoff return touchdowns with three, matching the marks set by the 2009 and 2000 clubs.
ON TAP: The Bulldogs will return to James S. Malosky Stadium where they will host Bemidji State University on Oct. 20. The Bulldogs will enter that Homecoming confrontation with a school-record 37-game NSIC home winning streak in tow.
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