Competition for Mertens
FARGO -- North Dakota State coach Craig Bohl said Monday he'll look at removing the redshirt from freshman quarterback Jose Mohler this week. Mohler moved up to No. 2 on the depth chart in the wake of Saturdays' 23-13 loss at Northern Iowa. It wa...
FARGO -- North Dakota State coach Craig Bohl said Monday he'll look at removing the redshirt from freshman quarterback Jose Mohler this week.
Mohler moved up to No. 2 on the depth chart in the wake of Saturdays' 23-13 loss at Northern Iowa. It was NDSU's fourth loss in five games and dropped the Bison to 3-4 overall.
But it didn't drop them out of the Division I Football Championship Subdivision coaches poll; they were at No. 25 on Monday.
Starting quarterback Nick Mertens threw four interceptions and now has 13 for the season. NDSU plays at Illinois State on Saturday in hopes of reviving what was once a promising season. For the first time, the starting quarterback is in question.
"We're going to take a hard look at Jose," Bohl said. "What he brings to the table is different than where we're at."
The 5-foot-11, 172-pound Mohler, from Cardiff, Calif., was NDSU's most highly recruited quarterback since Mertens signed in 2005. Mohler threw for 1,351 yards and rushed for 580 his senior year at La Costa Canyon High.
"He does certain things with the football that are hard to coach," Bohl said. "Along with that, he has done things that a freshman does. We'll look -- let's see if we can have this guy mature? He does some things that are unique and we need to revisit that."
Junior Troy Jackson, who was the backup at Northern Iowa, will be the No. 3 quarterback. He has thrown only three passes in limited action.
Bohl said he would always like to save a player's redshirt if possible. But he also stressed that winning the rest of the season is a priority.
"We'll see how this week goes," he said. "We need to take a look at that position as we do all of our positions on the football team. I'm an experienced coach and you have to look at the quarterback position and say we need improvement there."
Since starting the year 31 of 41 with six touchdowns and one interception in NDSU's first two games, Mertens has been inconsistent. He's 112 of 189 passing for a 59 percent completion rate. He has 12 touchdown passes to go along with the 13 picks.
Not helping his cause has been a banged up offensive line. But Bohl hinted those things are being taken into account in bringing Mohler to the No. 2 position.
"Obviously we think he has the things to be successful, that's why he's our quarterback," Bohl said of Mertens. "He's been put in difficult situation at times and at times in those difficult circumstances, he has not performed as well as what we want him to perform."
The last time NDSU considered a switch of this magnitude was in 2004 when freshman Steve Walker replaced senior Tony Stauss late in the year.
"It's not necessarily the recipe of what we're going to do now," Bohl said. "The biggest challenge with what you have -- you're looking at an offense that is not running the ball well and when forced to throw, not throwing it very well. For us to sit back and not having any plan to adjust to here is somewhat shortsighted. We'll look at Jose as the No. 2 guy this week."