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FOOTBALL: New staff, new language on offense requires added attention for UND quarterbacks

Quarterbacks Joe Mollberg and Ryan Bartels came to UND at the same time. Both competed for the starting quarterback position last season as redshirt freshmen. Both saw plenty of playing time.

Nothing has been decided at quarterback so far during the UND spring season.

In one sense, its back to square one for the quarterbacks as a new staff is now in place for the 2014 season. And with a new staff comes a different offense and terminology for the UND quarterbacks.

Both Mollberg and Bartels said progress is being made in dealing with the new terminology and offensive philosophy as UND wrapped up its fourth practice of the spring Friday at Memorial Stadium.

“There is a lot of pressure on the quarterbacks to get things going,” said Bartels. “It’s a learning process. But we did it once when we came in and we’ll do it again.

“We’re doing a lot of the same things; it’s just different names for things. Once that gets second nature, we’ll start playing faster.”

UND coach Bubba Schweigert has said an emphasis will be placed on running the ball when North Dakota opens its season in late August at San Jose State.

“It’s still early but you can definitely tell we’re going to try and implement the run game,” said Bartels. “We’re going to get down and clash heads.”

Mollberg, who opened the 2013 season as the starting quarterback, said calling offensive line protections also is a point of emphasis early in the spring season.

“Right now, the focus is getting down all the protections,” said Mollberg.

A lack of ball security was a point of contention Friday.

“Today was a difficult day,” said Mollberg. “The offense has to come together. We have to find our leaders and keep progressing every day.”

Paul Rudolph, UND’s offensive coordinator, said progress overall has been made through the first four practices.

“It’s like learning a new language, no doubt about it,” said Rudolph of the staff’s different terminology. “There are some learning curves. You have to listen; that’s the big thing.

“We didn’t have a real good day. But you have to have those types of days to see how you’ll react and how you can get better.”

UND returns to the practice field today for its fifth of 15 spring practices.

UND adds defensive back

UND’s lack of depth at the secondary position is a concern for the new coaching staff.

On Friday, UND announced that Dominique Blackmon, a junior college transfer from Arizona, has signed a letter of intent at UND.

Blackmon, who is originally from Avon, Ind., played defensive back at Arizona Western College. He registered 45 tackles and came up with four interceptions during his two seasons with the Matadors.

He returned two interceptions and a fumble recovery for touchdowns.

“He was a qualifier out of high school, but decided to go the prep school route and attended Milford Academy where he received some great technical training as a defensive back,” Schweigert said. “From there, he took his play to an even higher level at the juco ranks where he played against both FBS and FCS talent. He has maintained a high GPA throughout the process and will bring more than just on-the-field attributes to our program.”

Wayne Nelson
Nelson is the sports editor of the Herald
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