GRAND FORKS — The University of North Dakota football team didn’t suffer any major injuries in a win at Portland State on Saturday, but the team still has to do some depth chart shuffling.
UND will play No. 17 Southern Utah at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Cedar City, Utah.
Starting safety Chuck Flowers will sit the first half after receiving a targeting penalty in the final minute against Portland State.
Flowers is one of just four UND defenders to start all nine games this season. He’s second on the team with 62 tackles. The senior also is tied for a team-high with two interceptions.
He received the targeting penalty for a high hit on PSU quarterback Davis Alexander, who was sliding after a scramble.
“That’s the rule and that’s what was determined,” UND coach Bubba Schweigert said.
Without Flowers, UND is expected to start true freshman Ty Shannon and redshirt freshman Jordan Canady at safety.
The first-half suspension further highlights UND’s depth trouble at safety, where the team has seen a season-ending injury to Big Sky Conference preseason Defensive Player of the Year Cole Reyes, as well as a lingering injury to Tamas Stewart, who has played in just six games.
Behind Shannon and Canady, UND hopes to have Vashon Tucker in the mix. Tucker, who has primarily played special teams, missed the Portland trip with an injury.
“Outside of that, we have to train some guys to play safety,” Schweigert said. “That’s where we’re at, and we’ll figure out how to make it work.”
In addition to starting two freshmen at safety, UND will likely start true freshman Hayden Blubaugh and sophomore Torrey Hunt at cornerback.
Southern Utah has won five straight, including convincing wins over Top 25 teams Weber State (32-16) and Eastern Washington (46-28).
The Thunderbirds haven’t lost in Cedar City since a 37-36 setback to Weber State a year ago, a game that snapped an eight-game home winning streak.