Dragons true freshman quarterback Jack Strand showing poise, 'crazy' arm talent for MSUM offense

Minnesota State Moorhead true freshman quarterback Jack Strand is set to make his third career start Saturday against Minot State.

Minnesota State Moorhead quarterback Jack Strand
Minnesota State Moorhead true freshman quarterback Jack Strand has started the past couple weeks for the Dragons.
Jon Lambert / Dragons Athletics
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MOORHEAD — Minnesota State Moorhead receiver Gage Florence is coming off a 16-catch, 173-yard performance. However, the redshirt freshman has been impressed with the play of a Dragons true freshman.

Jack Strand made his second career start at quarterback for MSUM last weekend at Minnesota Duluth.

“I think Jack has done a really good job of stepping in and handling the pressure of it all,” said Florence, from Velva, N.D. “He’s a young kid. It’s kind of crazy to do that right away in my eyes.”

The 6-foot-5, 220-pound Strand is slated to start at noon Saturday, Oct. 8, against Minot State in Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference football at Scheels Field at Alex Nemzek Stadium.

The Dragons (1-4, 1-4 NSIC) are trying to snap a three-game losing streak.


Minnesota State Moorhead receiver Gage Florence has been a top target for the Dragons this season.
David Samson/The Forum

Strand completed 30 of 40 passes for 340 yards and three touchdowns with one interception in a 36-28 loss against Minnesota Duluth last Saturday.

“He’s done a good job being able to leverage the strength of his arm, pushing the ball downfield. He’s got a really quick release,” Dragons head coach Steve Laqua said. “I think it’s helped our offense, it’s helped our pass protection. The receivers have gotten it quicker with a little more space.”

Florence’s 16 receptions against the Bulldogs tied the program’s single-game record. His 173 yards was a career high for a single game.

Strand got his first career action late in the game against Augustana on Sept. 10. He then made his first career start in a road game at Winona State on Sept. 17. He took over for Tommy Falk as the team’s starter.

“The biggest thing is just developing chemistry with my teammates,” said Strand, from Bloomer, Wis. “A lot more confidence comes with each start.”

In his three games and two starts, Strand has completed 63 of 95 passes (66%) for 612 yards and five touchdowns with four interceptions. Florence said he’s done extra work with Strand outside of practice, running routes on air to help develop chemistry.

Laqua likes the development he’s seen from his young quarterback.

“I think for a true freshman he’s really been poised in there,” Laqua said. “I think he’s really starting to settle in. He looks comfortable in there. He’s progressed quickly through fall camp and the beginning of the season.”


Florence agreed.

“I think poise is a great word,” Florence said. “He always keeps a calm, steady face, he’s never freaking out in any way. I think our offense is starting to click a little bit better together.”

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The Dragons are averaging 238.8 passing yards and 22.4 rushing yards per game. Laqua said because of MSUM’s inability to run the football, the short passing game has become more important for offensive success.

“He’s gotten the ball out of his hand quickly and decisively,” Laqua said. “It’s important because we’ve struggled to run the football.”

Florence leads the team with 43 catches for 474 yards and two touchdowns in five games. He’s averaging 11.0 yards per catch.

“I think there was maybe some confidence built with that young group on offense,” Laqua said. “I think our offensive line play has really improved over the course of the year.”

Strand said Falk and fellow quarterbacks Jersey Selzler and Max Carter have also helped in his development along with Laqua and offensive assistant Justin Czech.

“I think we really have a close group and we can go to each other with any questions that we have,” Strand said of the quarterbacks.


“Tommy has been really supportive in helping him,” Laqua added. “He’s been a great teammate. They’ve put the team first and they are doing the best thing for the team.”

Strand was a multiple-sport standout at Bloomer High School who also excelled in baseball and played varsity basketball for one season.

“I think he does a really good job at pushing the ball down the field. He’s got a crazy strong arm and crazy arm talent,” Florence said. “I think he’s going to be a great quarterback for us.”

Peterson covers college athletics for The Forum, including Concordia College and Minnesota State Moorhead. He also covers the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks independent baseball team and helps out with North Dakota State football coverage. Peterson has been working at the newspaper since 1996.
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