EIGHTH-RANKED UMD IN CROOKSTON SATURDAY FOR FINAL REGULAR SEASON ROAD ASSIGNMENT
Thursday, October 25, 2012
The University of Minnesota Duluth will wrap up the road portion of its 2012 regular season schedule Saturday (Oct. 27) when the Bulldogs visit Crookston, Minn., for a Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference North Division matchup with the University of Minnesota Crookston. Opening kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. at Ed Widseth Field (2,000 capacity/natural grass) on the Minnesota Crookston campus.
THE RECORDS: UMD, the four-time reigning NSIC champion, is 7-1 both overall and in league play this fall while Minnesota Crookston, sports a 1-7 record.
HOW THEY RANK: Here is how UMD and Minnesota Crookston stacked up in this week's American Football Coaches Association Division II and the D2Football.com polls as well as the latest NCAA II Super Region 3 Rankings.
AFCA D2Football Region 3
UMD No. 8 No. 8 No. 6
UMC NR NR NR
THE BROADCAST: The Bulldog-Golden Eagle clash 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: 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, 97 victories and a .795 overall winning percentage. Bob Nielson has accomplished all this -- and much more -- in his 10 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 97-25 overall record at UMD (that .795 winning percentage is far and away the best mark in the program’s storied 80-year existence) and is 167-58-1 (.741) 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) 97-25 (10th)
Overall Coaching Record (Year) 167-58-1 (20th)
Career NSIC Record 75-15
Career NCAA II Playoff Record 11-3
Career Home Record (at UMD) 51-8
Career Away Record (at UMD) 46-17
vs. Minnesota Crookston (Overall) 8-1
vs. Minnesota Crookston (at UMD) 8-1
THE SERIES: Then Bulldogs and Golden Eagles have met on just nine previous occasions, including once in each of the past four seasons. UMD holds an 8-1 lead in the all-time series, which began in Crookston on Sept. 28, 1999 -- the Golden Eagles' inaugural year as members of the NSIC. Minnesota Crookston posted its lone victory over the Bulldogs two seasons later (a 17-13 home decision), but has since fallen to UMD six straight times. Last fall (Nov. 5), the host Bulldogs bulldozed their way past Minnesota Crookston 49-7 as a pair of then-true freshmen -- running back Brian Lucas and wide out Aaron Roth -- both scored two touchdowns while quarterback Chase Vogler completed 11 of 13 passes for 156 yards and two scores. Roth stepped up in the absence of fellow first-year wide receiver/kick returner Zach Zweifel, who was out with an injured shoulder, by bringing back a punt 65 yards for one touchdown and hooking up with Vogler for a 24-yard scoring strike. Minnesota Crookston cashed in on its first possession of the afternoon, but was shut out the rest of the way by a Bulldog defense which surrendered just 147 rushing yards on 43 attempts.
LAST WEEK: UMD inflicted all of its offensive damage in the opening half of play and used a dominating performance by its defense to blank NSIC North Division rival Bemidji State University 30-0 Saturday afternoon at James S. Malosky Stadium. Three touchdown passes from senior quarterback native Chase Vogler and a two-yard scoring run by Brian Lucas helped stake the Bulldogs to a 28-0 lead halftime lead. They capped off the scoring with a team safety on the first official play of the third quarter when a Beaver snap sailed into end zone. UMD limited Bemidji State to just 182 yards of total offense on the day while amassing 410 yards of its own. The Bulldogs also picked off Beaver quarterback Lance Rongstad three times and sacked him twice in defeating Bemidji State for the 19th consecutive time.
Minot State University extended Minnesota Crookston's losing skid to four games by ambushing the Golden Eagles 38-14 Saturday in Minot, N.D. Sophomore quarterback A.J. Barge passed for a career-high 220 yards and tossed a pair of touchdowns while going 20-for-30 in the setback.
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 University 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.
THE REAL STUFF: This Saturday, the Bulldogs will play on natural grass for the first time since Sept. 17, 2011 when they fell 7-0 at Wayne State College. Prior to that bout with the Wildcats, UMD hadn't been blanked by an NSIC opponent since 1987.
LET'S GET THIS SHOW ON THE ROAD: In its last 33 games away from Malosky Stadium (a run which began with a 23-13 win over St. Cloud State University in the 2007 season finale), UMD has gone 30-3. Two of those losses have come at the hands of St. Cloud State (51-49 earlier this year and 35-7 on Oct. 29, 2011) while the other was inflicted by Wayne State College (7-0 on Sept. 17, 2011).
CUTTING TO THE CHASE: Senior Chase Vogler, who last month was selected the D2Football.com National Offensive Player of the Week for his exemplary performance at Concordia University-St. Paul, currently ranks 16th in the country -- and second in the NSIC -- in passing efficiency (155.51). The Inver Grove Heights, Minn., native will head into Crookston still holding down the No. 3 spot on UMD's all-time charts for both passing yardage (6,945) and total offense (9,356 yards). In 50 career appearances with the Bulldogs, Vogler has completed 62.9 percent of his throws and has also run for more yards (2,411 for a 5.3 yards per carry average) than any UMD field general. He's also a remarkable 43-5 as a starter since assuming that role three years back as a first-year freshman. Those 43 victories are not only a UMD record, but they are the tops among all current NCAA II quarterbacks.
JUST WIN, BABY: Since the start of the 2008, no NCAA II program in the country has amassed more victories (59) or a better winning percentage (.908 off a 59-6 record) than UMD. Northwest Missouri State University is next in each of those categories (57-9, .864).
ALL IN A DAY'S WORK: Buma Foncham spearheaded a UMD defensive effort which was its most dominating of the 2012 season. In addition to sharing the team lead in tackles with five, the sophomore nose tackle also had one sack, two twops for a loss, one interception (the first of his career), one pass breakup and one quarterback hurry while forcing one fumble (which he recovered).
HE'S SOMETHING SPECIAL ON SPECIAL TEAMS: True sophomore Aaron Roth owns the best kickoff return average in the country at the moment (36.8) 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 UMD's first two home games).Roth is also the only Bulldog to return a punt his season (he's done so nine times fora 12.2 yard average). Freshman Justin Fowlkes is eighth nationally in kick returns (29.7 ypr) and has one touchdown to his 2012 credit.
ON THE RUN: UMD continues to pace the NSIC and in rushing with a 238.5 yards per game average. The Bulldogs, who as a team are averaging 5.6 yards a carry this fall, have produced a 100-yard rusher in five of their eight 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
Oct. 13 Austin Sikorski (MSU) 9 106 1
CHART CLIMBER: Third-year starting free safety Cameron Harper, who is one of three Bulldogs to take part in all 50 games over the past three-plus seasons (quarterback Chase Vogler and offensive guard Garth Heikkinen are the two others), is now tied for sixth (with cornerback Jeff Sajdak, 1982-85) on UMD's all-time tackles list with 257 stops. Inside linebacker Marc Achterkirch (261 tackles between 1991-94) occupies the No. 5 spot on that chart while strong safety Jim Johnson (276, 2005-08) is fourth.
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.
NATIONAL NUMBERS: Here is how UMD ranks among NCAA II schools in a variety of statistical categories at the moment:
Kickoff Returns 1st 29.6 ypr
Scoring Offense 4th 45.4 ppg
Rushing Defense 8th 91.1 ypg Sacks Allowed 9th (t) 0.75 spg
Rushing Offense 12th 238.5 ypg
Passing Efficiency 17th 156.39
THE GIFT OF GRAB: Wide receiver Zach Zweifel, who paced the Bulldogs in pass receptions as a true freshman last winter, paces the Bulldogs in that same department this fall with 28 catches for a team-leading 438 yards (just 29 yards shy of his rookie league total). The 2011 All-NSIC second team pick is one of two Bulldogs (freshman Justin Fowlkes is the other) to come away with at least one reception in all eight games to date.
BULLDOG BITS: Since falling to St. Cloud State 51-49 three weeks ago (marking the first time in school history the Bulldogs failed to win a game in which they scored more than 41 points), UMD is 3-0 and has outscored the opposition 119-20 in the process. In their first five outings of 2012, the Bulldogs never held a single foe to under 20 points ... Chase Vogler's 64-yard touchdown completion to rookie wide out Justin Fowlkes in last Saturday's 30-0 triumph over Bemidji State was the longest pass play from scrimmage for UMD this fall ... The Bulldogs are now 96-2 in the last 98 outings they've been ahead after three quarters -- a run which dates back to November 2001. One of those two losses occurred earlier this month at St. Cloud State ... Cornerback Darion Fletcher, who has made three starts this season, is UMD's only true freshman to receive playing time thus far in 2012 ... UMD has scored at least five touchdowns in seven of its eight games thus far (the exception was four against Bemidji State last Saturday) ... All-American senior offensive guard Garth Heikkinen will make his school-record 51st straight start this Saturday, having cracked the starting lineup in every outing since the start of the 2009 season ... 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 2012 Bulldogs have already equaled a team single-season record for kickoff return touchdowns with three, matching the marks set by the 2009 and 2001 clubs .
ON TAP: The Bulldogs will return to Malosky Stadium on Nov. 3 for a NSIC North Division collision with the University of Mary before putting the finishing touches on the 2012 regular season the next weekend against Northern State University.
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