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Tom Miller / Forum News Service, Published September 10 2013

Quarterback evaluation continues for UND football team

GRAND FORKS – Redshirt freshmen Ryan Bartels and Joe Mollberg have been neck and neck in the race to be the University of North Dakota’s starting quarterback since fall practice began.

Entering Week 3 of the 2013 season, not much has been settled.

As UND prepares for No. 11 Montana on Saturday at the Alerus Center, it will continue to evaluate the starting quarterback position.

“It’s going to look similar to what we’ve done the past couple of weeks,” UND offensive coordinator Luke Schleusner said. “There just hasn’t been a lot of game opportunity. With the way the first game went, it was tough to get a true read.”

Bartels started the first two games against Valparaiso and South Dakota State. When Bartels struggled against SDSU, Mollberg entered and engineered a comeback that came up just short against the Jackrabbits.

Mollberg finished 15-for-23 passing for 259 yards, two touchdowns and an interception – a pick that sealed the Jacks’ victory with 1 minute, 31 seconds to play.

Bartels ended 13-for-22 passing for 178 yards, one touchdown, one interception and one fumble.

“Both guys played well and both had critical mistakes,” Schleusner said. “We’ll continue to ride the hot hand and see where it takes us.”

On the season, Bartels and Mollberg own nearly identical numbers. Bartels is 23-for-34 for 390 yards, two touchdowns and a pick.

Mollberg is 21-for-30 for 333 yards, two scores and an interception.

The combination of Bartels and Mollberg has UND ranked fourth in scoring in the FCS at 49.5 points per game and eighth in total offense at 499.5 yards per game.

UND’s most significant injury out of Saturday’s loss to South Dakota State was to inside linebacker Garrison Goodman, who’s tied for the team lead with 10 tackles.

Goodman is doubtful against the Grizzlies. Brian Otto, Derrick Goard and Brian Labat are expected to fill Goodman’s missing reps.

Defensive end Seth Stanchik and linebacker Will Ratelle remain out for the second straight week, while center Shea Walker is questionable to go against the Griz. Northern Illinois transfer guard Dustin Adams is also getting closer to game action.

For the Griz, starting tight end Clay Pierson is expected to be available in emergency situations only against UND. Pierson has a broken hand.


Miller writes for the Grand Forks Herald