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UND turnovers continue to mount

GRAND FORKS -- As the UND football team prepares to visit Portland State on Saturday, one focus -- as it has been all season -- is improving the team's turnover ratio.

The statistics are becoming alarming.

North Dakota's turnover ratio -- the plus-minus statistic of giveaways and takeaways -- ranks 121st of 122 programs in Football Championship Subdivision. Only Lafayette has a worse ratio.

UND is a minus-15. The Green and White have fumbled nine times and been intercepted 12 times. Defensively, UND has three fumbles recovered and three interceptions.

"It's not one particular position," UND coach Chris Mussman said Tuesday. "It's not just Joe Mollberg or Ryan Bartels.

"The tight ends are culpable, the offensive line was abysmal, the running backs need to protect better, the wide receivers need to figure it out. There are things not on our quarterback, but it's on everyone that surrounds them."

UND's 12 interceptions thrown ranks 119th of 122 FCS programs. Mollberg, a redshirt freshman, has thrown 10 interceptions. He had three picks in UND's 31-7 loss against Sacramento State's last week.

In addition to some poor decisions, part of the issue with Mollberg's turnovers is the time he has had to throw. Mollberg, a big-bodied mobile quarterback, was sacked five times against the Hornets.

UND has allowed 24 sacks, which is tied for last in the Big Sky Conference with Weber State.

As a result, the turnovers haven't allowed the UND offense -- one that produced some prolific numbers last season -- to take flight.

"I thought offensively we were awful in the first half (against Sacramento State)," Mussman said. "That's as bad as we've been."

Mussman said UND's attitudes were addressed after the loss to the Hornets.

"I called them a bunch of divas," Mussman said. "Every position. Don't complain that we aren't running enough or we're throwing too much or I'm not getting the ball or I'm not playing in a certain situation.

"We came in thinking we'd be good offensively, but you still have to go out and work hard and do everything you're supposed to in practice. That hasn't sunk in as an offensive unit."