With Scepaniak starting, Ostrowsky confident in Northern Michigan’s QB stable

MARQUETTE – Northern Michigan University head football coach Chris Ostrowsky waited until Aug. 19 last season to publicly announce a starting quarterback, selecting redshirt freshman Ryan Morley before turning to junior Cody Scepaniak midway through the season after Morley suffered a concussion.

In 2013, Ostrwosky isn’t interested in waging another quarterback battle because there is no need to.

Starting the final five games last season, Scepaniak threw six touchdown passes, ran in six more scores and led the Wildcats to three of their four total wins. That combined with a solid spring has led to Ostrowsky naming Scepaniak the team’s No. 1.

For now, at least.

“At this point, Cody is our starting quarterback,” Ostrowsky said Tuesday after practice.

“Cody is our quarterback right now. He was our quarterback two weeks ago. Every position is one we are going to analyze and reanalyze and reanalyze again. Quarterback is no different than that.”

Ostrowsky used words such as “consistency,” “toughness” and “fluid” to describe Scepaniak after the fifth practice of the spring season.

He also used the word “senior” – which will be rare for the NMU coach this season because he only has six heading into the fall after taking over the program from Bernie Anderson after the 2011 season.

As one of those six seniors, Scepaniak is taking it upon himself to lead the Wildcats in 2013, whether he is the starting quarterback or not.

“I’m going to keep working hard every day and try to help out any way I can,” Scepaniak said.

“I want to establish myself as a leader on this team and make sure the team is behind me. That way we can roll and everybody isn’t struggling about who to look up to. We really want to be fast and explosive this spring.”

Scepaniak is one of four QBs on the NMU roster this spring, along with Morley – who is out after having shoulder surgery this winter – true freshman Jay Tollefson and transfer Dustin Thomas out of Villanova.

Ostrowsky said it’s nice for the first time since he came to Northern as offensive coordinator in 2010 to have four QBs that can win under center.

“I think it’s got more depth since I’ve been here. It’s not even close,” Ostrowsky said. “We have a great deal of skill attached to it at this point and experience for the first time ever as well. It’s an exciting group to be around.”

Thomas, of Ventnor, N.J., replaces true freshman Chris Nelson, who left the university after one semester.

Thomas redshirted after appearing in only one game for Villanova in 2010, then started four of six games at quarterback in 2011. He missed four games that season with a separated shoulder.

In the spring of 2012, Thomas was moved to wide receiver and saw little action there, so he decided to transfer out of Villanova to Northern.

“After watching two games and not really getting in, they told me I was going to run the wildcat (formation). It didn’t happen,” Thomas said.

“I just missed playing the position I always had and it was just something I had deep in my heart. I still had a love for it.”

Thomas said the transition from Villanova’s offense to Northern’s – both are spreads – has been much easier than he thought it would be.

According to Ostrowsky, the transfer has done well through two weeks of spring practices grasping the new terms and signals.

“Every day he has shown progress,” Ostrowsky said. “It’s not an easy system to grasp and I think he’s doing a nice job. He’s playing at a much higher level today than he was a week ago.”

Matt Wellens can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 252.