Tom Miller / Forum Communications Co., Published September 18 2012
Perham product Hendrickson to start again for UNDGRAND FORKS – The University of North Dakota’s quarterback situation one game into the season appeared to be shaky at best. Its No. 1 quarterback, North Carolina transfer Braden Hanson, went down with a broken bone in his leg in the opener. The backup, Marcus Hendrickson, didn’t throw a pass last season.
Hanson practiced for the first time Tuesday at Memorial Stadium – a good sign for a program short on quarterbacks.
However, there is no doubt who will start Saturday at Sacramento State – UND’s first official game in the Big Sky Conference.
After an electrifying performance at San Diego State last week, Hendrickson gets the call against Sacramento State, UND coach Chris Mussman said Tuesday.
“We’ll take it a day at a time,” Mussman said. “Right now, it’s Marcus’ job. And part of that is Braden hasn’t proven to me that he’s 100 percent healthy. We’ll have to see what Braden can handle and how much he can handle and whether he can protect himself.
“We’re in a different scenario than we were, realistically, two weeks ago – not knowing what Marcus was going to do. Now, this allows us to make sure that Braden will be 100 percent. I’m not going to put him at risk.
“Braden said he feels good, but until you get out there and run around … we’ll see how he feels.”
Hendrickson’s play the past two weeks against Portland State and San Diego State has been remarkable. He’s thrown for 628 yards and 10 touchdowns the last two weeks and is the No. 1 quarterback this week in the FCS with an efficiency rating of 191.0.
The play of Hendrickson, a fifth-year senior, may be surprising to everyone except the former Perham, Minn., standout.
“I expected to have success; I prepared that way,” Hendrickson said. “I’ve been here five years and have a grasp on the things we do.”
Mussman said he’s noticed a change in Hendrickson, which produced one of the more memorable quarterback performances in the program’s history. Against San Diego State, an FBS program, Hendrickson threw for 434 yards and four touchdowns. Only one quarterback in the program’s history, John Bowenkamp, has thrown for more yards (515) in a single game.
“I’ve seen a different person since spring ball,” Mussman said. “He’s a young man who has made the most of his opportunity and is running with it. We have a kid now playing as well as anyone in the country.
“Last week, when we were flying out to San Diego, I walked back through the plane and most of the guys were watching movies, playing cards or listening to music. Marcus was on his iPad, watching film. Even we weren’t doing that up where the coaches were sitting.”
When Hanson returns to full healthy, Mussman said he expects the transfer to see the field at some point.
“You’ll see two quarterbacks eventually this season,” Mussman said. “Right now, (Hanson’s) injury supersedes anything.”
Nelson is the sports editor for the Grand Forks Herald