Mollberg adjusting to starting role

UND freshman takes on quarterback position, looks to end season on high note.

Freshman Joe Mollberg throws the ball earlier this season against Montana. Mollberg has completed 132 of 224 attempts for 1,590 years during the five of eight games he has started this 2013 campaign. Photo by Keisuke Yoshimura.

With the 2013 collegiate regular season coming into its closing weeks, the North Dakota football team has struggled with its sophomore season in the Big Sky Conference.

In a schedule that has been filled with nationally-ranked squads and conference front-runners, the Green and White have managed just a 1-4 record in the Sky (2-6 overall), which has had them looking out from the seventh-place spot in the Big Sky with just three weeks left in the regular season.

Although the 2013 campaign may not have carried out as UND hoped, Green and White fans may take solace in the future of a program that has found a solid base of leadership and talent in the play-calling of redshirt freshman quarterback Joe Mollberg.

Mollberg, a native of Detroit Lakes, Minn., joined fellow redshirt freshman Ryan Bartels at the beginning of the season, splitting snaps to determine who would win the starting quarterback role. That rotation ended Oct. 5 against Idaho State when Mollberg took sole possession of the reigns against the Bengals and never looked back.

North Dakota picked up its  first and lone conference win of the season against Idaho State after Mollberg completed 18 of 27 passes to net 234 yards to help lead the Green and White in closing out a 28-25 victory in Pocatello, Idaho.

Taking over the play-calling of UND’s predominantly airborne offense has not come without adjustment for the freshman.

“The speed of the game has been challenging,” Mollberg said. “It’s not high school anymore, and I’m adjusting to it. I’m still making mistakes but I’m doing good things along the way.”

The position of quarterback calls for leadership, an aspect of the game that Mollberg is familiar with and has both stepped up into and has strived to improve upon for his teammates.

“It’s been a long season, but I want to improve my leadership,” Mollberg said. “I’m still getting used to the game of college football. I know I’m not quite there yet, but I’m working hard every day to get there and be the best player I can be.”

In addition to settling into his new role as a team leader, Mollberg has produced in his rookie collegiate season.

After starting five of eight games on the 2013 schedule, Mollberg has completed 132 of 224 attempts for 1,590 yards, while also throwing for six passing touchdowns. His passing completion of 59 percent has placed him among NCAA Division I-AA leaders at 61st overall in the FCS.

Although the team’s record thus far has been disappointing for many, Mollberg still finds optimism for the final three games of the season.

“We’re looking to finish 3-0,” Mollberg said. “We want to compete every week and get better, and we want to send the seniors out the way they deserve. They put a lot of years into this program, and I especially want to send them out in the best way possible.”

As collegiate football for the 2013 season comes to a close, North Dakota fans still have a lot to look forward to.

Green and White faithful will watch as the football squad’s season comes to a close — looking forward to a bright future of a new presence in Joe Mollberg.

David Butz is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected].