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UND football happy to finally see earlier bye week this year

UND's Grand Aplin (53) celebrates a touchdown by Nate Ketteringham during the Hawks' win in Greeley on Saturday. UND now has a bye week and will face Montana on Oct. 13. Photo/Russ Hons, UND Athletics

For the last two years, the UND football program’s bye week landed on the final week of the regular season.

This week, for the first time since 2015, the Fighting Hawks can take a breather during the heart of the schedule.

UND, 3-2, awaits a home game against Montana on Oct. 13.

“It’s definitely good for us,” UND wide receiver Noah Wanzek said. “We just need time for our guys to heal up and step back rather than prepare for an opponent right away. It’s going to be good to heal and work on our fundamentals.”

UND coach Bubba Schweigert also said the bye week comes at a good time.

The Fighting Hawks played Saturday’s 38-13 victory at Northern Colorado without senior captain John Santiago, who traveled to Greeley and dressed but didn’t play.

UND hopes to have its starting running back return in time for the showdown with the Griz.

Schweigert did rule one player out for the season on Monday, however. He said starting left tackle Noah Mortel, who has missed the last two games with an injury, will be sidelined the remainder of the season.

Sophomore Bennett Helgren has taken over at left guard, while sophomore Nathan Nguon has returned from an injury to handle duties at right guard.

UND also might receive the bonus of true freshman Matt Waletzko returning after the bye. The 6-foot-7, 320-pound rookie has been out with an injury the past two weeks.

Nguon is working back into game condition following his injury. Backup Sean Russo saw action on the line against the Bears last weekend.

“Nate played better this week than the week before,” Schweigert said. “Russo played some, and we just have to keep developing those guys.”

UND won’t waste much time this week looking ahead to Montana, which moved up to No. 14 in Monday’s FCS STATS poll.

“It’s going to be a fun game,” Wanzek said. “Right after the game (Saturday), coach said he’s sick of losing to Montana. It’ll be a good game for us. There will be lots of people at the Alerus. Juices will be flowing for sure.”

Tom Miller

Miller has been with the Grand Forks Herald sports department since 2004. He's also a Grand Forks native and UND graduate. 

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