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Craig Bagnell won’t let the weather bug his team today at the Bowl, at least that’s the plan.

For the University of Mary head coach it’s a state of mind.

“It’s the same for both teams. The weather can’t be an excuse. It comes down to having the right mentality,” Bagnell said. “It’s sunny and 65.”

Unfortunately for the coaches, players and the Marauders’ homecoming crowd, the mercury will fall about 30 short of 65. It might be sunny, though, and mercifully shouldn’t be snowy. The heavy snow and blizzard conditions didn’t allow Upper Iowa University to arrive in Bismarck until Saturday, which is why the two 0-5 teams are playing a Sunday afternoon tilt. Kickoff is at noon at the Bowl.

The homecoming game always provides a little more pop, even if the weather is a bummer.

“It’s an exciting week. The 1995 team is getting inducted into the hall of fame. A lot of guys are coming back, a lot of guys I played with,” said Bagnell, a 2013 U-Mary grad. “There have been so many guys that have been supportive of what we’re doing, a lot of guys I haven’t even had the chance to meet yet. I’m really appreciative of the support they’ve shown.”

The Marauders are coming off a 39-0 loss to Northern Sun power Sioux Falls. Adding salt to the wound was quarterback Jordan Velarde suffering a season-ending knee injury for the second year in a row.

“We feel bad for Jordan. He’s a really good kid,” Bagnell said. “To have this happen two years in a row is just really unfortunate.”

Velarde was playing in place of starter Logan Nelson, who missed the last two games with a shoulder injury. Nelson will be back to today.

“We need to get the running game going with the quarterback in it,” Bagnell said.

The Marauders remain banged up along the offensive line. Tyree Shepherd, Ramont Sallis and Dylan Thomsen are set to return, but Hazen’s Rory Olson is out and fellow senior Hunter Hanson is a game-time decision.

DEFENSIVE STRUGGLES

The Marauders rank last in the Northern Sun in points allowed (41). Upper Iowa also has trouble getting stops. The Peacocks allow 33 per contest.

With windy and cold conditions, both teams want to pound it on the ground.

“Our front seven needs to play well,” Bagnell said. “We have to stop inside zone and their quick games – their screens and bubbles.”

Finding the right combination remains a work in progress.

“Our DBs (defensive backs) struggled last week,” Bagnell said. “We’re going to have some new DBs out there this week.”

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Reach Tribune sports editor Dave Selvig at (701) 250-8246 or david.selvig@bismarcktribune.com

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