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UND FOOTBALL: Freshman Mollberg ready if pressed into action

UND quarterback Joe Mollberg

True freshman quarterback Joe Mollberg knows what's personally at stake Saturday when the UND football team hosts Portland State in the Potato Bowl at the Alerus Center.

"You could be thinking you have five years, and one snap of the ball you're down to four," Mollberg said.

Mollberg's redshirt will hang in the balance against the Vikings, hinging on the health of starter Marcus Hendrickson.

Hendrickson was thrust into the starting role when Braden Hanson went down with a broken bone in his leg during the team's season-opening 66-0 victory over South Dakota School of Mines.

Hanson is expected to miss two to three weeks.

In the meantime, Mollberg's future could be greatly affected if Hendrickson would have to miss time.

"It's definitely exciting," said Mollberg, a prized recruit from Detroit Lakes, Minn. "Most freshmen come in expecting their first year off. If the opportunity arose, I'd do nothing but look forward to it."

Change of plans

Mollberg originally gave UND a soft verbal last year as he awaited a potential offer from the University of Iowa. He later confirmed his commitment to UND despite heavy interest from North Dakota State.

UND coach Chris Mussman first warned Mollberg of the possible redshirt pulling at halftime of the Mines game. Hanson went down late in the second quarter.

After Hanson and Hendrickson, the only other quarterbacks on the roster are three true freshmen.

"There were definitely some nerves," said Mollberg of his halftime talk with Mussman. "But I think the coaching staff is doing a great job getting the young guys ready to play. Right now, we're just looking at Marcus and I think he'll do a great job on Saturday."

Mussman said he'll do everything possible to keep Mollberg's redshirt intact. If Hendrickson were forced to miss one or two plays, UND could have former high school quarterbacks Seth Nichols and Blair Townsend take snaps.

If Hendrickson were to miss more time than a snap or two, though, all signs point to Mollberg as next in line.

"I've got no worries; if the time comes, I'll take it like a man and do what you need to do for the team," Mollberg said.

Showing growth

Mussman said Mollberg is benefiting from taking repetitions with the No. 2 offense.

"Some days are good, some great, but (Tuesday) was tough," Mollberg said. "It seems to be two steps forward, one step back. But every day is a new day, and I want to keep learning the offense and getting better every day."

Mollberg said his biggest adjustment to college football has been the pace of the game. He also added there's a level of intimidation.

"You're coming into the huddle and you have ten 22-year-olds looking at an 18-year-old quarterback," Mollberg said.

Miller reports on sports. Call him at (701) 780-1121; (800) 477-6572, ext. 1121; or send e-mail to