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Tom Miller / Forum Communications Co., Published September 06 2012

Mollberg waits in the wings: True freshman may lose redshirt

GRAND FORKS – True freshman quarterback Joe Mollberg knows what’s personally at stake Saturday when the University of North Dakota football team hosts Portland State in the Potato Bowl at the Alerus Center.

“You could be thinking you have five years, and one snap of the ball, you’re down to four,” Mollberg said.

Mollberg’s redshirt will hang in the balance against the Vikings, hinging on the health of starter Marcus Hendrickson.

Hendrickson was thrust into the starting role when Braden Hanson went down with a broken bone in his leg during the team’s season-opening 66-0 victory over South Dakota School of Mines.

Hanson is expected to miss two to three weeks.

In the meantime, Mollberg’s future could

be greatly affected if Hendrickson would have to miss time.

“It’s definitely exciting,” said Mollberg, a prized recruit from Detroit Lakes, Minn. “Most freshmen come in expecting their first year off. If the opportunity arose, I’d do nothing but look forward to it.”

Mollberg originally gave UND a soft verbal last year as he awaited a potential offer from the University of Iowa. He later confirmed his commitment to UND despite heavy interest from North Dakota State.

UND coach Chris Mussman first warned Mollberg of the possible redshirt pulling at halftime of the Mines game. Hanson went down late in the second quarter.

After Hanson and Hendrickson, the only other quarterbacks on the roster are three true freshmen.

“There were definitely some nerves,” Mollberg said of his halftime talk with Mussman. “But I think the coaching staff is doing a great job getting the young guys ready to play. Right now, we’re just looking at Marcus, and I think he’ll do a great job on Saturday.”

Mussman said he’ll do everything possible to keep Mollberg’s redshirt intact. If Hendrickson were forced to miss one or two plays, UND could have former high school quarterbacks Seth Nichols and Blair Townsend take snaps.

If Hendrickson were to miss more time than a snap or two, though, all signs point to Mollberg as next in line.

“I’ve got no worries; if the time comes, I’ll take it like a man and do what you need to do for the team,” Mollberg said.

Mussman said Mollberg is benefiting from taking repetitions with the No. 2 offense.

“Some days are good, some great, but (Tuesday) was tough,” Mollberg said. “It seems to be two steps forward, one step back. But every day is a new day, and I want to keep learning the offense and getting better every day.”

Miller writes for the Grand Forks Herald