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Eric Peterson, Published April 13 2014

Quarterbacks push each other in battle for Dragons' starting job

MOORHEAD – This spring, Minnesota State Moorhead head coach Steve Laqua has options at the most visible position on his football team.

One quarterback, Jake Hodge, is coming off a breakout season. Another quarterback, Demetrius Carr, flashed his potential in the only game he played in last fall.

“This is the most depth and talent that we’ve had at that position, so that is encouraging,” Laqua said. “I think offensively in general we are so far ahead of where we have been.”

The Dragons continued their spring camp Sunday at North Dakota State.

Carr won the job out of fall camp last season as a true freshman before a foot injury ended his year. Carr was able to take a redshirt since he played in only one game.

Carr’s injury created an opportunity for Hodge, who took off after taking over as starter.

The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Hodge completed 181 of 311 passes for 2,518 yards and 24 touchdowns. He set the school’s single-game record with 472 passing yards against Minnesota-Duluth. Hodge also rushed for more than 600 yards.

“The Jake Hodge that didn’t win that quarterback in the fall is a different Jake Hodge than the one we have now,” Laqua said. “He proved he can perform in games, he can be the tough guy and he can be the guy that can lead.”

In his first collegiate start last September, Carr completed 30 of 45 passes for 369 yards and four touchdowns in a season-opening 41-28 loss at Augustana.

Carr, however, never played another snap after that game, breaking a bone in his left foot.

“It’s tough because I sat out a whole year watching my teammates play, and watching them develop,” Carr said.

Hodge, who will be a junior next season, is taking most of the reps with the first team this spring.

That doesn’t mean Hodge feels his status atop the depth chart is cemented.

“Nobody’s job is safe,” Hodge said. “I learned that the tough way last year. I’ve got to keep my mind right, stay focused and try my best.”

As a freshman, Hodge played in nine games and averaged 158 passing yards per game. That jumped to 280 yards per game last season, helping MSUM post a 4-7 record. Those four wins were the most in a season for the Dragons since 2007.

“This spring it is about taking advantage of every single day and going for it every day,” Hodge said. “You always have to find that one thing to fix and get better at.”

Hodge said having Carr in the program for the first time last fall helped push him to become a better player.

“The competition helped big time and then when Demetrius got hurt he helped me out, too,” Hodge said.

The 6-foot-2, 227-pound Carr said he wants to make his presence felt this spring like he did last fall.

“I’m No. 2 right now,” Carr said. “It is great to have the competition back. … It will make the team better because the competition is so great and it is still friendly, too.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found

at peterson.areavoices.com