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UND keeps focus on itself in preparation for San Jose State

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GRAND FORKS — The words on the back of Bubba Schweigert’s shirt at University of North Dakota’s football practices pretty much sums up the program’s approach to its season opener Thursday night at San Jose State.

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The words on his shirt are “Day by Day.”

In reality, that’s about the only way Schweigert, his assistants, and players can prepare for a new era of UND football — one that hopes to erase the disappointment of the past few seasons.

UND wrapped up another practice Sunday as it prepares for San Jose State, a 6-6 team from a year ago that plays in the Mountain West Conference.

“We’re going into this game pretty blind,” said Schweigert. “We have to focus on ourselves and how we prepare. Through the years, I’ve felt that if we can keep the focus on ourselves and how we prepare instead of just looking at the opponent, we’re better off. But that’s hard for the guys because they’re going to get a lot of people asking them about the opponent.”

San Jose State, however, won’t know much about UND, either. A new coaching staff, a new philosophy and considerable turnover in talent will challenge the Spartans.

Schweigert said UND will travel with at least six true freshmen. How many of them see significant playing time, however, remains to be seen.

UND will play a team that scored a ton of points last season. In San Jose State’s final two games of 2013, the Spartans scored 114 points — 52 against Navy and 62 against Fresno State.

But the Spartans have a new quarterback in Blake Jurich, a graduate student in his fifth year with the program. In his career, Jurich has played in 18 games — throwing a touchdown pass in 2012.

Additionally, San Jose State’s defensive coordinator has quite the resume. Greg Robinson joined the San Jose staff this season after spending last season as the defensive coordinator at Texas.

Robinson coached for 14 seasons in the NFL. From 1995-2000, he was the defensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos, who won the Super Bowl in 1998 and 1999.

With a new staff and approximately 35 new players, a lot of questions face UND heading into its opener.

“You just have to keep your preparation the same,” said Schweigert. “You’re the same team when you play San Jose; you’re the same team when you play a Big Sky opponent; and you’re the same team when you play a Robert Morris or a Stony Brook. You just have to keep the focus on yourself. That’s how you have to approach it.”

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