Eric Peterson, Published August 21 2013
MSUM coach sees improvement at QB, even if starter hasn't been named
“I think our level of play at quarterback, from a year ago from both sides of the whole competition, is better than it was,” Laqua said at Minnesota State Moorhead’s media day, which was held on Wednesday.
The Dragons’ starting quarterback likely won’t be picked until game week of the team’s Sept. 7 season opener at Augustana.
Sophomore Jake Hodge and true freshman Demetrius Carr are the two candidates competing for the No. 1 spot on the QB depth chart.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Hodge has the edge in experience, having played in nine games for MSUM last season. Hodge, from Kasson, Minn., completed 117 of 223 passes for 1,423 yards and six touchdowns.
“Jake brings some veteran savvy,” Laqua said. “He’s a gamer that finds a way to make plays and can figure out how to get out of some tough situations and be crafty.”
Laqua likes the physical tools the 6-2, 227-pound Carr brings to the field. The challenge for Carr is trying to master the MSUM offense in his first year in the program.
“The first couple days were pretty hard, just trying to get the playbook underneath me. It was very overwhelming,” said Carr, who is from Naperville, Ill.
“Now that I’m starting to get some practices under my belt, it’s becoming easier. It’s slowing down for me a lot.”
At this point in camp, Laqua would give Hodge a slight edge, but added it remains an “open competition.”
Even if Carr isn’t the starter, Laqua said the first-year player is making the position better. Carr has pushed Hodge to elevate his play early in fall camp.
“He does a lot of things really well,” Hodge said of Carr. “It just shows me what I can work on and what I can do to get better, too.”
Carr said he played in a spread offense during his junior year of high school. He then played in a triple-option offense in his senior campaign.
“The passing game is more upgraded than my high school team,” Carr said.
Dragons offensive tackle Troy Peterson (6-4, 278) likes the competition he’s seen between Hodge and Carr.
“Demetrius, he refuses to be outworked by anyone and Hodge has really stepped up his level because of what Demetrius is bringing,” said Peterson, who is from Hitterdal, Minn.
Laqua said MSUM is looking the break through the two-win ceiling that the program hasn’t cracked in recent history. The Dragons have not won more than two games in a season since 2007. They had a 1-10 record last fall.
MSUM has a roster full of freshmen and sophomores. It has just four returning seniors on the roster.
“It’s going to take a group of catalysts to accelerate the process and pop through that ceiling and raise the bar to another level,” Laqua said. “Can we set a new norm around here?”
Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.
Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com