'He has an insanely strong arm': Dragons QB Strand atop spring depth chart after strong true freshman season
Minnesota State Moorhead sophomore quarterback Jack Strand has increased his speed and strength since last fall.
FARGO — Minnesota State Moorhead quarterback Jack Strand has had a productive offseason, adding about 15 pounds to his 6-foot-5 frame while also increasing his strength and speed.
Strand — who now weighs around 230 pounds — has used that physical improvement as momentum into spring football, his first with the Dragons.
“There were some things mechanics-wise that I was working on in the offseason and a lot of that I kind of got fixed in the offseason and I’ve carried it over into spring ball,” Strand said. “I’ve definitely gotten stronger. … Over the winter, I’ve gotten faster than I’ve ever been and that feels good.”
Strand, from Bloomer, Wis., emerged as the Dragons starter last fall as a true freshman, playing in nine games and making eight starts. He’s atop the depth chart with the Dragons nearing the end of spring practices. MSUM is slated to end spring camp Wednesday.
“Sometimes this spring I’ve had to press pause and remember he’s still young and this is his first spring ball,” said Dragons head coach Steve Laqua. “When you play in games, the bar of expectations is definitely raised. He’s processing a lot quicker through the read progressions.”
Strand completed 65% (230 of 356) of his passes last season for 2,280 yards and 16 touchdowns with 13 interceptions. He passed for 340 or more yards in three games.
“He stepped into the first last season and was kind of learning on the fly,” said Dragons senior receiver Ryan Bieberdorf. “So far this spring he’s done a much better job of knowing the offense as a whole, knowing how things flow.”
Bieberdorf caught 40 passes for 619 yards last season, while sophomore receiver Gage Florence had 100 receptions for 996 yards and six TDs. Sophomore receiver Carter Birrenkott was third on the team in receiving last fall with 38 catches for 453 yards and four touchdowns.
Strand said the mental side of the game has been one of his focuses this spring.
“I think a lot of mental stuff and seeing things with the defense, knowing where to go with the ball,” Strand said. “That’s something I’m trying to work on a lot this spring. I think I’m really figuring that stuff out. … When you’re young you go to your first read and if that’s not there, you’re going to scramble or run around looking for something else hoping to make a play.”
This spring has also allowed Strand to get more live reps and work on his leadership skills.
“This is an important time for young quarterbacks to be able to develop,” Laqua said. “You’ve got to get a certain amount of reps under your belt to get better. It doesn’t just happen.”
Junior quarterback Tommy Falk, who has starting experience, is No. 2 on the depth chart at this point of spring ball, while sophomore QB Jersey Selzler has also shown promise.
“It’s been three quarterbacks who have battled pretty well this spring,” Laqua said. “That’s been fun to see the competition in that room.”
Strand was a two-time, all-conference quarterback at Bloomer High School, running a run-based, double-wing offense. Now, he’s leading an up-tempo spread offense with the Dragons.
“He has an insanely strong arm and he’s very accurate with it,” Bieberdorf said. “He can put the ball wherever he wants.”
Strand said the offensive system at MSUM is a good fit for his skill set.
“I think for me there is definitely more potential,” Strand said. “I’m more of a thrower than runner. … I think it suits my strengths.”