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Goska welcomes chance to be UND's starting QB

GRAND FORKS -- A year ago, the University of North Dakota football team was struggling offensively at UC Davis in a game that would decide the Great West Conference football title.

GRAND FORKS -- A year ago, the University of North Dakota football team was struggling offensively at UC Davis in a game that would decide the Great West Conference football title.

The Sioux needed a spark after their first three possessions were three-and-outs. They turned to quarterback Brent Goska, who delivered. On his first series, he led the Sioux on a 10-play, 80-yard scoring drive -- a march that awoke the UND offense.

UC Davis went on to win the game but Goska's play stood out.

Goska hopes to deliver another spark this week now that the Sioux have lost starting quarterback Jake Landry to a season-ending knee injury.

Goska will start Saturday against Lamar at the Alerus Center. The Sioux are 2-5 and have lost three in a row. With a chance to win the Great West title long gone, UND's focus now is on a winning season -- a challenging task considering the remaining Sioux schedule consists of Lamar (3-4), UC Davis, Montana and South Dakota State.

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Goska welcomes the challenge and the chance to make his debut as a starter.

"It's the not ideal situation in which to get your first start," he said. "Jake and I are good friends. And he gave me the best encouragement anyone could in that situation. I felt terrible for him.

"It's bittersweet but that's the way it is," Goska said. "It's the game of football."

Goska took more reps last season than he has in 2010. A year ago, he completed 12 of 21 passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns. This season, he's completed only 1 of 5 passes for 7 yards.

But Goska brings a different style of quarterbacking to the field. He's a physical runner. The 6-foot-3, 209-pound junior from Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., has averaged 5.9 yards per carry in 43 career attempts.

"I haven't gotten as many meaningful reps this year as I did last year," Goska said. "But I feel the work I put in and the game experience I've had will help out a lot. Obviously, playing at UC Davis last year will help tremendously."

Landry provided UND with a rocket arm and some mobility. Goska is the opposite, but he doesn't expect the Sioux offense to be one-dimensional against Lamar.

"We're going to keep most of the same stuff," he said. "Obviously, we'll work toward more of my strengths and maybe get the running backs more involved in the game. But the base stuff is still going to be in there -- the crossing routes, the basic routes we've had since Day One. We're going to try and keep it as normal as possible for everyone else."

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Head coach Chris Mussman said Goska presents a different look for opponents.

"Brent is a better running quarterback than Jake," he said. "We'll do some things differently with the (offensive) package than we did with Jake. We'll still try to stretch the field vertically. But Brent will be able to make plays with his feet."

Nelson is the Sports Editor of the Grand Forks Herald, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.

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