GRAND FORKS-A rare blemish on an otherwise stellar Saturday, Oct. 13, for the University of North Dakota football team was a knee injury to starting outside linebacker Tanner Palmborg.
On Monday, UND coach Bubba Schweigert confirmed the negative outlook.
"It's not official but it doesn't look good," Schweigert said. "It looks like it's going to be long term. We'll know more (Tuesday) exactly what it is."
The Fighting Hawks, who are one spot outside the STATS FCS Top 25 media poll, will be without Palmborg when UND travels to Sacramento State for an 8 p.m. Saturday kickoff.
On the second play of the second quarter against the Grizzlies, Palmborg was injured chasing Montana quarterback Dalton Sneed in the backfield.
He returned to the sidelines in the second half on crutches.
Palmborg is tied with Noah Larson and Donnell Rodgers for the team lead in tackles with 31 each.
He had 4.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.
Palmborg started his UND career as a walk-on safety out of Princeton, Minn., and developed into an All-Big Sky Conference linebacker.
He's also a senior captain, a role Schweigert said Palmborg will continue.
"I talked to Tanner yesterday, and I think he'll help us a great deal as we move forward," Schweigert said. "He was really positive about the football team. What I've grown to appreciate about Tanner is he has worked really hard at being a leader who is the best of the best. The injury was outside his control, but he can control how he helps our team moving forward."
The loss of Palmborg means UND will need to see more from Jade Lawrence, a junior who started nine games last year and finished with 34 tackles, 6.5 for loss and 2.5 sacks in 2017.
Lawrence hasn't played much this season as he has battled injury. He made his first tackle of the season in UND's 41-14 win over Montana.
"Jade Lawrence is getting better and better as he's playing more," Schweigert said.
Schweigert also said Austin Gordon and Andre Steiger will need to step up in Palmborg's absence.
"We really will miss him," UND cornerback Evan Holm said. "He's a big leader on our team."