Game Week! The long summer abyss is over and it’s time to get back into the Alerus Center for some Hawks football.
This season is a bit different as UND does not play an FBS program but instead plays three FCS non-conference games. The first of which is the Drake Bulldogs this Saturday – 4pm – at the Alerus Center.
2018 Record: 7-4
Predicted to finish third in the Pioneer Conference this season.
Starters Returning: Offense – 8 Defense – 4.
The Bulldogs have a new coach in Todd Stepsis, who was their defensive coordinator for the past five seasons.
Drake consistently has one of the better defenses in the Pioneer Conference. In 2018, they gave up a paltry 19 pts/game.
Safety Will Warner is an All-American candidate after an outstanding 2018 season where he notched 8 interceptions.
Their starting QB Grant Kraemer graduated in the offseason so the Bulldogs will have a new look under center for 2019. True freshman Ian Corwin (6’0″-187) will be the starter on Saturday. Corwin was a three year starter for powerhouse Oklahoma program Jenks (Tulsa). He threw for 8,988 yards and 80 TD’s in his high school career.
The Drake offense has a couple very good senior receiving threats back in #81 Steven Doran (6’3″-218), who caught 55 balls for 949 yards and 12 TD’s, and big tight end Devin Cates (6’5″-240), who caught 45 balls for 570 yards and 4 TD’s.
The Drake offense may look a bit like UND’s past offense where bigger fullbacks/tight ends are employed.
“It’s drastically different,” Stepsis said. “If you think of Midwest, that’s what you’re going to see. You’re going to see multiple big personnel people out there. So, you’re going to see multiple tight ends. You’re going to see fullbacks. They’re not dead. They are alive and they live in Drake Stadium.”
Drake is going to be a tough, physical team that wants to keep it close heading into the second half. New coach, new QB, new offense = they are going to stick to the plan and get better at what they do. This will be a good opening test for the Hawks.
Look for our new 360 Pregame Podcast to be posted late Thursday right here on undfootball360.com. You can also tune in on Saturday morning at 10am via 1440am in Grand Forks and via their 1440 IHeart App.