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Fighting Hawks offensive lineman Dan Bell celebrates with fans following Saturday's Homecoming win over Northern Colorado.

Kyle Zimmerman

Fighting Hawks offensive lineman Dan Bell celebrates with fans following Saturday's Homecoming win over Northern Colorado.

Nick Erickson, Staff Writer

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UND football had been struggling through the first half of their season, and we all hate to see it. We want to watch UND succeed in all of their respective sports. The team has been plagued with injuries this year, which makes it even more frustrating to see as a fan. However, looking back at the historic season from last year could possibly give us fans some hope for the second half of the season this year, as well as give us explanations as to why the team is seeming to struggle.

“The team has been plagued with injuries this year, which makes it even more frustrating to see as a fan. However, looking back at the historic season from last year could possibly give us fans some hope for the second half of the season this year, as well as give us explanations as to why the team is seeming to struggle.””

— Nick Erickson, sports writer

The first six games this season had not gone according to plan. It was rather unexpected considering last year’s success at the end of the year had raised all of our expectations for this season. However, this year is still rather similar to last year in a way. The offense is similar to how effective it was at the beginning of last year, but the teams we’ve been playing so far in 2017 are a lot more offensively potent than the teams we played in 2016. We have played two Missouri Valley Football Conference teams which is the conference we will be upgrading to in the year 2020. We have also played two of the top Big Sky Football teams that are coming into the year having made very necessary adjustments to their team to make them more competitive.

In UND’s first five games last year, all of the outcomes were within a one possession margin. Last year’s first five could have gone completely differently, and UND’s football team could have been 0-5 instead of the 3-2 that they pulled out. Having those close games eventually going in UND’s favor could be what gave a lot of confidence to the entire team, which eventually led to such a historic successful season.

Continuing the comparisons between the two seasons, UND had played only one similar foe between last year’s season, and the first five games of 2017. Montana State rolled up 48 points against UND this year compared to their abysmal 15 last season. However, it was a defensive battle last year, with UND only winning by a two-point margin in that meeting. UND couldn’t seem to stop the onslaught of Montana State’s rushing game.

Kyle Zimmerman

UND safety Chuck Flowers takes out Northern Colorado quarterback Jacob Knipp during Saturday's Homecoming football game at the Alerus Center. The Fighting Hawks earned a hard-fought 48-38 victory over the Bears.

On the topic of last season, comparing the team’s success between the two seasons, the team caught fire after their first five games last season. UND went on a scoring rampage averaging 33.5 points compared to their initial five games of averaging 26. Looking at the averages to the slower start last year, it can be anticipated that this year’s offensive slump really isn’t all that out of character and should pick up just like last year did. UND was only averaging 20 points per game through those first five contests.

UND is hoping to spike their offensive attack in a similar fashion compared to last year’s trend in order to compensate for the defenses lack of effectiveness this season due to injuries. UND has three of its six concluding games against familiar teams from last year. UND will play Sacramento State and Southern Utah in the upcoming weeks with potential to regain some confidence, and get back on track. UND defeated both of these teams, Southern Utah was a 22 point deficit and Sacramento state had a difference of 33. With UND’s offense having put up large and impressive numbers in those games, it begs to be anticipated for more interesting games in the near future.

UND just took on Northern Colorado this weekend, another team that they had taken on and defeated last season, and won again by a 10 point deficit of 48-38. (2016 was 23-13)  The offense is beginning to step up in the second half of the year again in almost a characteristically expected way. It can be anticipated that UND’s offense will need to become a powerhouse in order to make up for those defensive injuries. As a fan, it’s hard to forget the slow start, and refrain from making assumptions about the rest of the year. With this past game against Northern Colorado, the future is again looking bright for the UND football program and it’s fans.

Nick Erickson is a sports writer for Dakota Student. He can be reached at nicholas.r.erickson@und.edu

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