Richmond will hold playoff experience edge on UND football team
GRAND FORKS -- University of North Dakota sophomore running back Brady Oliveira is taking in new experiences lately. The Winnipeg native said he enjoyed his first American Thanksgiving with teammates last weekend. This weekend, he and the No. 7-s...
GRAND FORKS - University of North Dakota sophomore running back Brady Oliveira is taking in new experiences lately.
The Winnipeg native said he enjoyed his first American Thanksgiving with teammates last weekend.
This weekend, he and the No. 7-seeded Fighting Hawks will play in their first FCS tournament. UND, which has won nine-straight games and finished Big Sky Conference play unbeaten, hosts Richmond of the Colonial Athletic Association on Saturday at 5 p.m. (CT) in a second-round matchup.
The Spiders, meanwhile, are one of just five schools in the country with a playoff win in each of the past three seasons.
The Spiders also won the FCS national championship in 2008, beating Montana 24-7. A year ago, Richmond traveled to North Dakota State before losing to the Bison 33-7 in the national semifinals.
"Everyone's happy to be here, but we haven't accomplished anything yet," Oliveira said. "We've won a Big Sky championship, but we also want to win a national championship. We're going to work hard and do whatever it takes to get there."
UND third-year head coach Bubba Schweigert has never taken the Fighting Hawks to the playoffs, but he was the defensive coordinator when two Dale Lennon-led Southern Illinois teams made the playoffs.
Schweigert, a former defensive coordinator at UND under Lennon, said there aren't many lessons he needs to tell his team based on his experiences with the Salukis.
"I think the momentum swings are greater because of the sudden-death aspect," Schweigert said. "If you lose, you don't move on. As far as the game, you have to play the same. You have to play hard, focused and with great energy because there are really good opponents in the tournament."
Richmond advanced to the second round when the Spiders beat North Carolina A&T 39-10 in Richmond, Va., on Saturday.
Sophomore quarterback Kevin Johnson, who was planning on redshirting before CAA preseason player of the year Kyle Lauletta suffered a knee injury in the regular-season finale against William & Mary, had 315 passing yards, one passing touchdown and one rushing touchdown in his season debut against North Carolina A&T.
"So they know how to handle the playoff atmosphere," Schweigert said.
UND was last in the postseason in 2007. The then-Sioux lost 21-14 to Grand Valley State in the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs. UND's current wide receivers coach Danny Freund was injured in the game and backup quarterback Jake Landry's comeback effort came up short in Allendale, Mich.
"It means a lot for us to play in the tournament," Schweigert said. "It will mean much more if we get a positive result; we know that. We think it will help us in terms of exposure and recruiting. Our fan base will also be really excited to be part of that atmosphere."