For the second year in a row, a UND football coaching staff had a decision to make at starting quarterback between Joe Mollberg and Ryan Bartels.
On Wednesday, first-year head coach Bubba Schweigert tabbed Mollberg as his starter for the Aug. 28 season opener against San Jose State.
Both sophomores, Mollberg and Bartels split action last season. Mollberg made seven starts and threw for 1,729 yards. However, he had 13 interceptions to only seven touchdowns. Bartels passed for 1,396 yards, eight touchdowns and six interceptions.
“We chose Joe to take command of this thing,” Schweigert said. “All of our decisions we look at what’s best for the team. At this point, with (Mollberg’s) skill set, knowledge of the offense and performance in fall camp, we feel that’s what’s best for our team.”
Mollberg, a Detroit Lakes, Minn., native, said he’s feeling comfortable in new offensive coordinator Paul Rudolph’s offense.
“I’m ready to take on this role,” Mollberg said. “This is what I’ve been working for for the last two, three years. I feel like the team is following me, and they’ve got my back. I’m excited to prep for San Jose starting on Saturday.”
Schweigert said both Mollberg and Bartels have improved from spring ball to fall camp.
“It was a good competition,” he said. “We split the reps, and I’m proud of all of our guys. They worked hard. We felt Ryan made strides, too. They’re better players than they were a year ago.”
Mollberg said his biggest improvement from last season is his understanding of the game and grasp of the offense.
“You have to command the huddle and the line of scrimmage,” he said. “From spring to now, I’ve made strides but I have to keep going and keep growing.”
Garman tops RB depth chart
Schweigert released a depth chart for the first time on Wednesday.
In a bit of a surprise, senior Jer Garman was slated as the No. 1 running back. Transfer Cedric Simmons was No. 2.
“I don’t think we have a guy in our program who’s going to get 25 to 30 carries a game,” Schweigert said. “We like what Cedric is doing. He brings a different style of runner to us. We like what Jer brings as more of a scat back. Adam (Shaugabay) is good in goal-line situations.
“The challenge we’ve made to all of our running backs is to be complete. Who can run, block and catch? That’s the guy who will emerge as the guy and get the most reps.”
Freshman in the mix
Schweigert’s newly released depth chart also highlighted a number of true freshmen.
“There’s at least six guys who we are going to have on the trip (to San Jose),” Schweigert said. “We’ll use them and work them into the rotation. We’re going to take our best talent and get them on the field.”
True freshmen in the two-deep depth chart include wide receiver Brandon Walker, cornerback Chris Carter, wide receiver Dev Ferguson, center Jake Francis, kicker Reid Taubenheim, defensive end Drew Greely, defensive end Brandon Dranka and safety Josiah Montague.