Duluth, MN (Northland's NewsCenter) --- The University of Minnesota-Duluth (UMD) football team has been officially practicing since August 11, and now the players are ready to hit someone other than their teammates.
"I think the guys are looking forward to getting out and finally playing a game," UMD defensive coordinator John Steger said. "It's time. We've practiced and gone through two-a-days going all the way back to the spring, so I think we're ready to play that first game."
UMD opens the 2012 season on Thursday night with a road game against Southwest Minnesota State, with kickoff set for 6:00 p.m.
"We're pretty excited," UMD junior defensive back Kenny Chowa said. "We've been beating up on each other the past two weeks, so it's going to feel really good to go out there and play against somebody else."
For UMD senior co-captain and defensive lineman Joe Akey, the 2012 season opener is a long time coming after he missed all but one game in 2011 with a knee injury.
"I couldn't be more excited," Akey said. "We're ready to go. Everyone is sick of hitting each other. Now it's just that first opponent, week one, focusing on that."
UMD head coach Bob Nielson is entering his 10th season with the Bulldogs, having won eight of his previous nine season openers.