While Joey Bradley had a less than stellar 2011 season stats-wise, he certainly brought an element to the program that it was lacking – depth.
He brought depth and stability at a time when the most high-profile position on the field was missing both. He seemed poised to add a couple important elements to his repertoire this season – respect and leadership. His importance to the team last year was as paramount as it was this year. Until, of course, he apparently left the team recently.
We have reason to believe that Joey Bradley is no longer with the team. With the departures of Bradley and Chris Comes, the crowded QB position all of the sudden becomes younger and thinner. This no doubt makes Braden Hanson the #1 guy for 2012, like it was thought to be all along. But what about after Hanson?
2012 QB Depth Chart
1. Braden Hanson – Senior
2. Marcus Hendrickson – Senior
3. Joe Mollberg/Ryan Bartels – True Freshman
4. Jake Hanson – True Freshman
We see Marcus Hendrickson being the #2 guy entering fall camp by default based on experience alone. It also probably “readies” the two incoming freshman at a faster pace as well. We expect to see both Ryan Bartels and Joe Mollberg taking substantial reps this fall to figure out who’s most ready to be the #3 guy on the depth chart. We also expect to see both of them travel on road games, which is typically not normal. Carrying 4 QB’s on the travel roster gives you one less guy who can provide depth at other positions and more importantly, play special teams. Maybe one guy separates himself from the other or the need to travel a depth guy at another position supercedes the need to travel both freshman QB’s, but it’s definitely on the table.
In the event of an injury at QB, one other angle is the all-of-the-sudden importance of the walk-on QB from Grafton, Jake Hanson. His ability to run scout team offense now becomes a big deal in order to give the defense good looks each week in preparation. Devin Coyle from Mandan will probably also be part of that mix as well, but he has the athletic talent to possibly play another position. This is really important stuff that sometimes gets lost in the hype of everything. Any college football coach will tell you that from week to week, their team is only going to be as good as the looks they get from their scouts.
This also affects recruiting for 2013. We don’t think there is any doubt that the coaching staff at minimum has to entertain the thought of bringing in a JUCO QB for spring semester 2013 to improve experience and depth. With Hendrickson and Hanson both graduating, depth again becomes a concern. Unless of course, Bartels and Mollberg show they are ready to take over - and we would say BOTH need to show it in order for a JUCO QB to not be considered.
2013 QB Depth Chart
1. Joe Mollberg/Ryan Bartels – Redshirt Freshman
2. Jake Hanson – Redshirt Freshman
What’s this do to offensive playcalling for the 2012 season? Does the offensive staff become more conservative and try keep Hanson upright and healthy by keeping him the pocket more, etc? This may or may not have any infuence on what the plan is already but it’s something to consider. Interesting to say the least.
Now, all of the sudden, UND is one injury at QB away from total uncertainty on the offensive side of the ball, not unlike 2010 and 2011. If called upon, maybe Marcus Hendrickson steps up and grabs it and runs with it like Brent Goska unexpectedly did last year. Maybe Bartels and/or Mollberg decide it’s their time a little earlier than expected.
One thing is for sure: the O-line protection and health of Braden Hanson just became that much more important than it already was on the offensive side of the ball.
We aren’t quite sure what caused Bradley to go a different direction, especially this late in the game. We can’t see how anything had changed since spring ball and he knew he would have a tall order in beating out Hanson this year. He also would have had his chance during his senior season in 2013 to be the starter if Bartels and Mollberg didn’t progress to the point where they passed Bradley on the depth chart.
Everything happens for a reason and we wish Joey Bradley the best on his future endeavors.