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UND FOOTBALL: Freshman QB Joe Mollberg ready for the challenge

UND coach Chris Mussman was asked to comment on a handful of crisp, well-thrown passes by redshirt quarterback Joe Mollberg -- the apparent 2013 starter -- during the program's first practice of spring ball at Memorial Stadium.

University of North Dakota redshirt freshman Joe Mollberg
University of North Dakota redshirt freshman Joe Mollberg throws a pass during the first day of spring football practice Friday April 5, 2013 at Memorial Stadium in Grand Forks, N.D. (JOHN STENNES/GRAND FORKS HERALD)

UND coach Chris Mussman was asked to comment on a handful of crisp, well-thrown passes by redshirt quarterback Joe Mollberg -- the apparent 2013 starter -- during the program's first practice of spring ball at Memorial Stadium.

"He threw a couple into the ground, too," Mussman said.

Overall, though, Mollberg and the other two redshirt freshmen on UND's roster -- Ryan Bartels and Jake Hanson -- all had their moments during UND's first practice.

Mollberg, a former Detroit Lakes, Minn., standout, is No. 1 on the UND depth chart. He'll likely be the foundation of a young quarterback corps that will be expected to lead UND during its second season in the Big Sky Conference.

"It's brick by brick right now; that's how we're building it," Mussman said.

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Mussman, though, was impressed with Mollberg's first day as the No. 1 quarterback.

"But we have to let him grow up and not push him too fast," Mussman said. "I thought Joe's huddle presence was very good. A lot of times with a young quarterback, when a call is made, it will come out like a question in the huddle. But Joe's command was impressive."

Mollberg spent his redshirt season knowing that he was only two snaps away from playing as seniors Braden Hanson and Marcus Hendrickson split time in racking up UND's most prolific passing season in program history.

"Taking snaps behind Marcus and Braden all last year really helped me," Mollberg said. "The coaches did a good job in getting me ready.

"The big thing I tried to do over the winter was watch film and learn the game of college football. Everything is faster, bigger."

Mollberg is bigger and faster than he was last season as well. He'll enter the 2013 season as a 6-foot-2, 232-pound quarterback -- one with a strong arm. He estimates he put on 15 pounds during his redshirt season.

After Saturday's practice at Memorial Stadium, UND has 13 more spring sessions before fall camp. And UND's quarterbacks will have the luxury of working with a deep, talented receiving corps -- led by first-team all-Big Sky selection Greg Hardin.

"Our quarterbacks here are lucky to have guys like Greg, Kenny (Golladay) and Jameer

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(Jackson)," Mollberg said. "We also got a transfer in J.J. Robertson. And the leadership of Blair Townsend is incredible.

"I'd go against anyone in the nation with our wide receiver corps."

Mollberg knows he'll have to win the starting job during spring ball and fall camp. But he said he's ready.

"It's going to be some good competition," he said. "I'm a big, strong, physical guy. I work hard every day. I think I have the skills to play at this level and do very well at this level."

Nelson reports on sports. Call him at (701) 780-1268; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1268; or send e-mail to wnelson@gfherald.com .

Wayne Nelson is the sports editor at the Herald.


He has been with the Grand Forks Herald since 1995, serving as the UND football and basketball beat writer as well as serving as the sports editor.



He is a UND graduate and has been writing sports since the late 1970s.



Follow him on Twitter @waynenelsongf. You can reach him at (701) 780-1268 or wnelson@gfherald.com.
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