Four quarterbacks is usually plenty to navigate a college football season.
Unfortunately for the Marauders, QBs are dropping like flies during a snakebitten start to 2018.
After backup Logan Nelson and senior Ryan Victorino went down with season-ending injuries during fall camp, starter Jordan Velarde hurt his knee last Saturday against Bemidji State. Velarde's long-term status remains unclear.
All of that thrusts 18-year-old freshman Jason Hoekstra from Legacy High into a starting role today at Minot State. Hoesktra threw for 127 yards in one half of action last week against Bemidji State.
"I've been an O.C. for three years and we always carried four quarterbacks. You'd maybe have a guy miss a game here or there, but yeah, three in one year, we weren't planning on this," U-Mary head coach Craig Bagnell said.
Bagnell is high on Hoekstra. Prior to getting the head job at U-Mary, he recruited the left-hander to Bemidji State where Bagnell was offensive coordinator since 2015.
"It's been good. The benefit Jason has is that he's been here all summer. He's pretty comfortable with things," Bagnell said. "Obviously, he's a different type of player. Jordan's a big strong kid, whereas Jason's still developing. The thing Jason has going for him is he's very intelligent."
Behind Hoekstra, things get interesting.
Garrett Weissinger, who moved to wide receiver last spring, started seven games under center in 2017, but the offense Bagnell features is a 180 from last season.
"We've got our plan in place with guys we can put in there and run a few things for us," Bagnell said.
After playing two unbeaten teams -- St. Cloud State and Bemidji State -- the Marauders do get a break in the schedule with Minot State (0-2). The Beavers, however, also have played a daunting early-season slate with Northern Sun powerhouse Duluth (3-0) and Northern State (1-1). Duluth handed St. Cloud its first loss on Thursday night, 41-17.
"They have a good secondary and they play some man coverage," the head coach said of the Beavers. "They have good size on the D-line with two really big kids inside kinda like St. Cloud."
The Marauders are hoping to use their speed to get to the edges.
On top of the quarterback quandry, the Marauders also have had issues at running back.
Sebastian Franck-Love, a junior from Inglewood, Calif., would have been a big part of U-Mary's ground game, but he tore an ACL in fall camp and will miss the whole year.
Jordan Beaty, the Marauders' starter, hobbled off the field in both games but returned and is good to go for today.
BEAVERS IN BRIEF
During last week's game, Minot State played nine true freshmen.
Coach Mike Aldrich has had some tumult at quarterback as well. Ben Bolinske, a former all-state performer at Minot High, accounted for over 300 yards of offense against NSU despite not starting. Andy Jones was the opener both games for the Beavers.
Cornerback Kiante Goudeu has two interceptions, tied for second-most in the conference.
Peyton Lamoureux, a freshman from Minot High, had 101 yards receiving against NSU.
The Beavers have been outscored 91-19 through two games, while the Marauders are coming off a lopsided loss to Bemidji State following a one-point road defeat to St. Cloud.
"Good or bad, you have to be able to move on," Bagnell said. "The biggest thing our guys have to understand is that little details matter. That's what really showed up last week."
Today's winner gets the Big Lake Trophy as part of the Battle of the Big Lake series. U-Mary's 26 games against Minot State is the most against any opponent.