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Wayne Nelson / Forum News Service, Published April 14 2013

Spring quarterback competition intensifies at UND

GRAND FORKS – The University of North Dakota held its first spring scrimmage Sunday at Memorial Stadium – one that produced only one touchdown. But that touchdown shed some light on UND’s untested quarterback situation.

The touchdown came on a 29-yard pass from redshirt freshman quarterback Ryan Bartels to receiver Kenny Golladay.

“Kenny made a nice grab,” Bartels said. “I didn’t think I put enough on it but he went up and got it.”

Golladay’s response: “It was a good ball. I just had to make a play.”

Through seven spring practices, UND has received strong performances from Joe Mollberg and Bartels – both redshirt freshmen.

“I thought Ryan looked pretty good,” said UND coach Chris Mussman. “He made some big plays down the field.

“Both Ryan and Joe have a tendency to show each other up from time to time. Joe will have a very good day and Ryan will come back and get after it. Ryan had a pretty good day today. We anticipate Joe will come back and have a pretty good practice (today).

“It’s a competition that will make them both better. It’s a competition that will go right up until the start of the season.”

There is a third part, however, to the quarterback competition.

“A guy that’s been pretty impressive in all of this is Jake Hanson,” said Mussman, referring to the former Grafton N.D., standout who is listed No. 3 on the depth chart. “He still considers himself in the race.”

Bartels, who took reps with the No. 1 offense, completed all four of his pass attempts for 52 yards on the scoring drive. Overall, the 6-foot-3, 218-pounder went 9-for-11 for 100 yards.

Mollberg, who also has taken reps with the No. 1 offense during the spring, went 7-for-11 for 53 yards.

UND’s running game, meanwhile, was limited due to injuries. Adam Shaugabay rushed seven times for 61 yards while Kodee Varner added 11 yards on 10 carries.

Defensively, UND received five tackles from Devon Hall and four each from Ben Peters, Baylee Carr and Will Ratelle.

UND is expected to practice at the Alerus Center this week, making for ideal conditions.

This week also brings a bigger challenge for the three redshirt freshmen quarterbacks.

“Now, the defense will get more complicated,” Mussman said. “The pressure and blitzes come in this week. We’ll see the next step in the (quarterback) progression and see who’s ready to take that step.”

The annual Green and White spring game is scheduled Saturday at 2 p.m. in the Alerus Center.

Nelson is the Sports Editor of the Grand Forks Herald