Spring over, North Dakota's goal is playoffs

Apr 16, 2016 - 9:08 PM (STATS) - North Dakota moved its spring-ending scrimmage indoors to its new High Performance Center because of inclement weather in the Grand Forks area Saturday.

The Fighting Hawks wouldn't mind practicing there deep into the fall. That will indicate they are playing in the FCS postseason.

The Big Sky Conference program was one of the last two teams left out of the playoff field last year - Towson was the other - and the Fighting Hawks are motivated to get there, much like the national championship program in the state, North Dakota State.

The Fighting Hawks hope they used their spring practices to pave the way toward their goal. They wrapped up the spring by running nearly 60 plays during a tightly scripted scrimmage, with a majority of those coming in "live" situations.

"We're excited about the team we are going to have in 2016, but we have a lot of work in front of us," said coach Bubba Schweigert, whose team was 7-4 overall and 5-3 in the Big Sky last year.

"I saw a number of good signs today and a lot of positives to take away."

The offense was matched in different scenarios against the defense, including short-yardage, red zone and full drives.

The Fighting Hawks are seeking more consistency out of returning quarterback Keaton Studsrud. In a series of 12 red-zone snaps that were played at a high tempo, the junior signal went only 3 for 9, but two of the passes went for touchdowns to Clive Georges and the other completion was a score to Luke Stanley.

The offense will feature one of the top young running backs in the FCS in sophomore John Santiago. Meanwhile, the defense returns nine starters, including second-team all-conference selection Cole Reyes.

North Dakota will open its 2016 season by traveling to Stony Brook on Sept. 1.

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