Huskies head coach Scott Underwood has been around the program for quite a long time, starting off as a defensive coordinator for the cardinal and black in 2001, he has stuck around long enough to have been promoted to head coach back in 2008, coming into the season, Underwood had never had a losing season with his worst finish being 6-5 in the 2014 and 15 seasons.
The Huskies were at the peak of their powers under Underwood from 2010-13, amassing a 38-12 (.760) record and making the NCAA Divison II playoffs three of the four years.
This last season, the Huskies finished 5-6, losing their last game 48-34 against the University of Minnesota Duluth Bulldogs at Husky Stadium. On finishing the season with a losing record for the first time in his tenure as a coach Underwood said, “we’re disappointed, I think we had some games we had some opportunities to win and we had some youth out there, but we need to overcome that and get ourselves in the win column.”
Even though the Huskies weren’t able to keep their winning season streak alive, Underwood seemed optimistic for the future. The team featured a lot of young talent playing nine freshman this year. With starting quarterback Nate Meyer being a senior, the only remaining signal callers on the roster will be sophomores next season, continuing the youth movement the Husky roster is currently under.
As far as getting back to winning football, Underwood thinks that retaining his current players would be a big part of the program’s development, “if they stick with it, they end up becoming back-ups or third string, now they can almost be in a starting role in that development that they make. The last two classes of young talent are very good and now we just need to keep getting them on the field for some experience and I think we’re progressing in the right direction.”
With so much young talent on the roster, the Huskies will be looking to move up the NSIC totem pole. With so many schools in the area; Duluth, Bemidji, Moorhead, Mankato, and Winona namely, there is a lot of demand and not enough supply of local talent to go around when it comes to recruiting. One factor that could hurt the Husky rebuild is the lack of scholarships that St. Cloud State can hand out to potential recruits. After the school cut a lot of them last year and Underwood touched on that as well, “it becomes difficult when you’re going competitively when offering scholarships with the other Division II teams in our conference that have more scholarships.”
Underwood seems focused on building the program with retaining the young talent that they currently have in order to get back to that level when the Huskies were making the playoffs nearly annually.
One thing that the Huskies struggled with most this year, was running the football. 12 different Huskies recorded a carry last year running the football, with the team averaging just 3.3 yards per carry on 392 total attempts. Underwood continued, “we struggled to run the football, when we got one dimensional, in our system, we aren’t built to be one dimensional. Most good teams have the ability to run to set up your passing and play action, so we need to do that.”
Underwood praised his team’s passing talent, but also noted that from an overall standpoint, the team wasn’t consistent enough. The team’s offense and defense were very good at times, but were far too inconsistent to the point where it cost the team games. “We can’t give up big plays on defense, we can’t have bad outings on offense. When we played at a high level we were a very good football team, but trying to find that our highs and lows weren’t so far apart from each other,” added Underwood.
As far as next season, with only nine players graduating, Underwood said putting pretty much the same team as this year back on the field next year is going to help this team a lot. One thing is for sure, with Underwood under the helm, you can never count the Huskies out.