SAN JOSE -- San Jose State coach Ron Caragher is dealing with plenty of unknowns as his team prepares to face North Dakota in Thursday's season opener.

With a new coaching staff and a turned-over roster at North Dakota, the Spartans are making some educated guesses about the type of team they'll face.

"You just have to do your due diligence and make your best guess of the type of schemes they're going to run," Caragher said.

North Dakota, which isn't to be confused with three-time defending Football Championship Subdivision champion North Dakota State, is coached by Bubba Schweigert. He took over after UND went 3-8 last year and fired Chris Mussman.

Schweigert spent the last six years as defensive coordinator at Southern Illinois. Offensive coordinator Paul Rudolph was the head coach the last seven years at Division II Minot State, so Caragher said he'll try to glean something from the schemes run at their previous stops.

"You've really got to focus on yourself and take care of your business and be prepared for a lot of different things that can come your way," Caragher said.

Caragher pointed to North Dakota's last two games against Football Bowl Subdivision teams as reasons not to overlook the FCS foe. UND lost to San Diego State 49-41 in 2012 when it had the ball late in the game with a chance to tie and lost 27-22 to Fresno State in 2011.


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  • Jarrod Lawson's two-game suspension means Thomas Tucker is the primary running back for Thursday's contest. He'll make his first career start after coming off the bench the final eight games last season. What's his approach now that he's the starter?

    "Play like I've been here before," Tucker said. "Last year, I got a lot of good reps, and I feel like I can just roll it over into this year."

    Tucker was SJSU's second-leading rusher last year with 338 yards, and his 5.1 yards-per-carry average was best among players with more than two carries.

    Redshirt freshman Brandon Monroe should also see an expanded role in his first collegiate action at running back. He played two games at safety and on special teams last year before redshirting with an ankle injury.

    "We like our running backs to be well-balanced, and I think Brandon fits in that," Caragher said of the 6-foot-1, 221-pound Monroe. "He brings a little girth to the position. The first two guys, Lawson and Tucker, they're more of the speed, make-you-miss guys, and Brandon's more of the all-around type of running back. He's got some power."

  • Sophomore tight end Billy Freeman, who missed much of camp while recovering from foot surgery in May, appears healthy and ready to go for Thursday.

    "He looks like the Billy Freeman that we've seen," Caragher said. "I haven't see him leap a defender thus far, but I'm sure that's on the horizon."

  • North Dakota does not have a school nickname. The school retired its former moniker, the Fighting Sioux, in 2012 after the NCAA threatened sanctions for the name it deemed was offensive. There's a state-mandated three-year cooling-off period before UND can select a new name in 2015.

    Follow Jimmy Durkin on Twitter at Twitter.com/Jimmy_Durkin.

    Thursday's Opener
    North Dakota at San Jose State, 7 p.m.