After injuries, UND wide receiver depth to be tested against No. 4 Weber State
GRAND FORKS — University of North Dakota’s dominant rushing performance at Sacramento State during last Saturday’s 41-15 road win over the Hornets masked a few building concerns for the No. 22 Fighting Hawks.
One of those worries is that UND’s wide receiver depth will be put to the test against No. 4 Weber State at 2 p.m. at the Alerus Center in Grand Forks.
In Sacramento, UND wide receivers Izzy Adeoti and Travis Toivonen went down with injuries and are doubtful for Saturday’s Top 25 showdown.
That’s UND’s Nos. 2 and 3 wide receivers in terms of production this season.
Adeoti, a sophomore, has 13 catches for 205 yards, including a 55-yard touchdown catch in UND’s blowout win over Montana a couple of week ago.
Toivonen, a junior, has 22 grabs for 194 yards and two touchdowns.
The loss of Adeoti and Toivonen puts the onus on true freshman Garett Maag (8 catches, 119 yards, 2 TDs) and redshirt freshman Cam McKinney (one catch, 12 yards).
“I think (Maag) is prepared for it,” UND wide receivers coach Danny Freund said. “He’s at about 20-30 snaps a game for the first half of the year. He’s going to be a guy to step up. He has the potential and the talent. He’s put himself in a position to have success. He has to make some plays for us. That’s why we recruited him.”
McKinney, who has emerged as a rushing option, as well, has 17 carries for 119 yards (7.0 yards per carry).
But he’ll be asked to help in the passing game now, too.
“Cam has progressed and earned the trust of the staff a little bit,” Freund said. “He’s catching the ball better in practice. He can be that explosive playmaker who can make you miss in space.”
In addition to Maag, McKinney and leading receiver Noah Wanzek, UND has seen consistent improvement from Luke Stanley, who has played sparingly after missing more than a year with an injury.
Stanley led UND in receiving yards and catches as a redshirt freshman in 2015.
“He has some confidence going,” Freund said. “In man coverage, he can use his body and be in the right spot.”
UND expects a considerable challenge from Weber State’s defense, a unit that leads the country in turnovers and fumbles recovered.
“They’re fast and athletic,” Freund said. “They’re experienced in the secondary and have had success the last couple of years.
“We know it’s going to be a tough, physical game. Sometimes if you have to punt that’s OK. We’ll have to make some plays down the field with some one-on-one, contested catches. We also have to take care of the ball and play a smart game.”
When: 2 p.m., Saturday
Where: Alerus Center, Grand Forks
Records: UND 5-2; Weber State 5-2
Of note: Weber leads the all-time series 2-1