UND 2018 Position By Position: Quarterbacks

As the UND football season sputtered to an end in 2017, so did this blog, so I’ll try to crank it up again here with some looks at each position as UND turns to 2018. I’ll start with the quarterbacks, which features the most interesting battle in years.

Almost the entire Bubba Schweigert Era at UND has consisted of Keaton Studsrud at quarterback, minus a few starts here and there.

Studsrud, a mobile quarterback from Benilde-St. Margaret’s High School in Minnesota, had a bit of a disappointing 2017 season although his career will be remembered for some gutsy, clutch performances. He led UND to the program’s first-ever FBS win in 2015 against Wyoming, as well as the school’s first Big Sky championship in 2016. Studsrud will have his detractors but he should be credited with the simple fact that he played the most important position for a very important stretch in program history.

In 2017, Studsrud threw for 1,887 yards, eight touchdowns and an uncharacteristic 11 interceptions. Those interceptions can be phrased in quite a few ways, but you could say UND playing from behind in most games in 2017 and a super green offensive line didn’t help the final statistics.

All that said, let’s move on to the new guys. It’s a wide-open race between Nate Ketteringham, Andrew Zimmerman and Brock Boltmann. It’s anyone’s guess who will emerge from this trio, but I think it’s safe to say the position will be deeper than it has been in the Division I era.

UND has struggled under Schweigert when Studsrud was injured, including last season when Brad Heidlebaugh saw his first action in Missoula. The Rugby Rifle didn’t fare well, and I feel confident in saying he’ll move positions in 2018, although the school hasn’t announced anything on that front. From all accounts, he’s a good kid, with good size, smarts and athleticism. Can he be a Luke Stanley/Travis Toivonen type? I know I’m curious to see.

Let’s take a quick look at the top three for 2018.

1. Ketteringham. The first thing you’ll notice about Ketteringham is he looks the part. He’s 6-foot-3, 200 pounds and can make all the throws. The Sacramento State transfer has proven he can get it done in the Big Sky, throwing for 3,391 yards and 24 touchdowns during his two years with the Hornets. He completed 54.7 percent of his passes, while rushing for 237 yards and four touchdowns. In Ketteringham’s favor will be his mobility is better than Zimmerman’s. Ketteringham split reps with Boltmann on the scout team, but it’s generally difficult to gauge a quarterback in that setting. With that said, it was noticeable this season over the past few years that UND’s scout quarterback play was much better. It helped that the two QBs had some weapons on the scout team thanks to transfers, suspension and injury (guys like Cam McKinney, Mikey Greibel, Ben Hardy, Graham DeVore and Austin Gordon). The question mark with Ketteringham is how much of his inability to win at Sac State was a result of his play. I was in Sacramento when UND smoked the Hornets with Ketteringham under center, and that day it was pretty obvious he was constantly running for his life. So, you definitely could make the argument he didn’t have much help there. A new coaching staff came in and didn’t seem on board with Ketteringham keeping the reins, so either that’s a natural occurrence with a new staff or a red flag. If Ketteringham has a great year for UND in 2018, we can remember that Sac State has provided UND with some nice talent the last few years. I would guess it helps to have some connections to Sac State with defensive line coach Jordan Gigli, who came to Grand Forks from Sac. I would guess Gigli has some contact there that could give a thumbs up or down regarding character. Sac State transfers Noah Johnson and (when healthy) Tamas Stewart have been nice additions.

2. Zimmerman. The Fresno City College (and Eastern Washington) transfer got his feet wet in 2017. In some relief efforts, Zimmerman was 21-for-41 passing for 339 yards. He threw three touchdowns and had one interception. From what I hear out at Memorial Stadium, Zimmerman has been a likable guy that works his tail off. He doesn’t move great, but he navigates the pocket pretty well, which is something we saw when he had his chance against Montana and Sac State. Just judging from postgame interviews, I like his moxie. The question with Zimmerman is why he didn’t jump at you during practice. I didn’t see much at fall camp or early in the year to say he deserved a shot when Studsrud went down, although clearly he was the upgrade at QB after Heidlebaugh faltered at Montana. It wasn’t until that second half against Montana that Zimmerman started to earn some consideration for this 2018 job. A full season with a Division I weight program and a little shot of experience under his belt, it’s going to be awful interesting to see what Zimmerman can do to push Ketteringham and Boltmann for the starting job during fall camp. I think he’s got a shot.

3. Boltmann. If you read a lot of UND football coverage, you’re probably sick of my reference of Boltmann’s play to that of Studsrud, but the comparison is so easy to make. They’re about the same size and seem to have similar athleticism. Boltmann is 6-1, 200 pounds from Edina, Minn., and the son of Edina’s head football coach, which is always a good thing. Boltmann’s prep numbers reflect the dual-threat capability. He threw for more than 3,000 yards and ran for more than 1,000. He also played baseball and hockey at Edina and returned an interception for a touchdown in the Minnesota All-Star Game at U.S. Bank Stadium … so that speaks to his athleticism and UND’s love for multi-sport athletes. Boltmann intrigues me and could be the darkhorse in the race, but he’s definitely still considered the QB of the Future for the Fighting Hawks. His biggest question mark right now is he hasn’t seen any live NCAA action. That could change as early as 2018.

Thoughts on the QB race? Questions? Suggestions? It’s a long offseason, so let’s discus.

8 Responses

  1. roadkill

    First, who is Ben Hardy?
    Second, will Zimm be a jr or sr?
    Would you pick Greibel or McKinney to contribute next year?
    Think DeVore will leapfrog other TE’s and does that even matter with our offense?
    Do you think the offensive play calling was limited due to Studsruds lack of arm strength?

    1. Tom

      1. Hardy is a 6-4, 240-pound TE who transferred in midseason from Montana, where I think he was a PWO. Without looking it up, I believe he comes from a small school on the ND/Montana border and his brother had a great career with the Griz. I think he’s a factor at TE in 2018.

      2. Zimmerman will be a junior. He came in with three to play. He might have been listed with the wrong year on a roster at one point. The confusion sounds familiar.

      3. I think DeVore would have played in 2017 had he not come to school with an arm injury. UND wasn’t as good at TE (in the blocking department) as it wants to be last year, and I think DeVore has the size for it. Will UND pass to those guys more? I don’t know. We saw glimpses from Cloyd of what I think he can be, but not enough balls went his way. Could be lots of reasons for that.

      4. That’s a good question. It’s hard to say because we’ve seen so much of Studsrud and so little of anyone else. Ketteringham has a strong arm. And maybe a few more potential deep threat weapons. UND didn’t have a good depth threat after Clive Georges went down in 2016 and Izzy Adeoti was the real only deep threat in 2017 after preseason injuries to Cam McKinney and Mikey Greibel. UND’s next QB might have more speed to play with than Studsrud really did.

  2. Old_hog

    Great synopsis. I always liked Studs, but it was a case of either he didn’t progress, or the staff kept the reins on him too much. It always seemed to me the older he got the more hesitant he was to run. Usually when he decided it was time to bail out, he was a 1/2 second too late each time. I don’t know if it was the staff being so cautious with him, or if it was him. It also seemed like at times he wasn’t given the reins to change a run call to a pass, even with 8 or 9 in the box. You could see his level of discomfort at the line of scrimmage with the box stacked, but still it was John up the middle. Puzzling.
    Bubba and company have to keep from coaching the life of our whoever is QB next year. Zimmerman looked good, and it also seems like we will have 3 pretty good options. It still will come down to O-line and especially Bubba & Rudolph’s philosophy; Whether you want a QB who doesn’t make mistakes or take chances, or do you want a QB who is allowed to play to win put some pressure on defenses.

    1. Tom

      You got into a good point there and one of my questions about Ketteringham. Will he have too much of a gunslinger attitude for the taste of Schweigert and Rudolph?

  3. Guest

    A little off topic, but this years recruiting class is looking pretty thin on kids from ND. Any in-state guys you’re aware of who UND is still pursuing this year?

    1. Tom

      Not really. North Dakota doesn’t have a big name this year really. There’s a big DE from Shiloh in Bismarck who has committed to the Bison and UND has a PWO from a WR project out of Red River. Nobody else is really on my radar, but I don’t see a ton of HS football during the fall, either, so maybe I’m missing someone.

  4. Guest

    I saw Boltmann run scout team a couple of times and he reminded me a lot of Danny Freund. It was instant. They’re about the same size, both athletic, but the big thing that stood out was the way they throw the ball. Also, both sons of football coaches and you can tell they’re confident just by watching them practice.

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