It was fitting that Saint Francis quarterbacks wore white jerseys in the team’s Blue and Black game Friday night. All three quarterbacks who took snaps had never thrown a pass for the Cougars in competition, so white and the feeling of being new fit.
It also provided a good chance to take brand-new looking white jerseys and get them dirty.
It was the three quarterbacks’ first chance to go against players at the top of the depth chart, and the step up in competition left a lasting impression.
“Getting thrown in for the first time having live action all spring, I thought at first the quarterbacks came out kind of shaky, took awhile to get settled in, but overall I thought offensively we did some good things,” said Logan Rehrer.
The step up did produce some issues early on. Most notably was the first score of the game, coming on an interception thrown by Rehrer that was returned 65 yards for a touchdown by Stanton Wilhite for the Blue team.
That early high mark was the only time the Blue team got into the end zone, though, as the Black team went on to win 20-6.
That interception was one of three thrown on the day. Still, the chance to get game experience helped Rehrer, Bradley Jarzab and Ryan Leiter to see where they are ability-wise.
Rehrer got to show off his arm on a 43-yard touchdown pass to John Naumcheff. He finished 12-for-26 for 122 yards. Jarzab showed an ability to scramble and find yards the hard way. He went 10-for-24 for 89 yards and added 26 yards rushing.
“We’ve just been scout team players, and … coming out here and getting Team One reps, I thought we did really well,” Bradley Jarzab said. “We missed some things, but thought we did well, and I think I learned myself that I need to get out there and slow things down. The game goes fast and you don’t need to speed it up in your head.”
For Jarzab and Rehrer, the game was also the culmination of a spring practice that leaves the quarterback competition open heading into the spring. The only returning quarterback with experience in a game isWesley Hunsucker, who sat out the spring game because he is a pitcher for the Saint Francis baseball team. This has provided an opportunity for the other two to really dig into the playbook.
“These guys had to learn the whole offense in the spring in 10 practices, so it’s like not even being through the first week of two-a-days. So it’s a lot of learning for them,” head coach Kevin Donley said. “I think they came along real well. We threw a lot at them, and they’ve got some potential.”
Whoever wins this competition will be helped by a talented backfield and offensive line. Even with Antoin Campbell out with an injury, the running backs showed they are a force for the fall. Jason Nicodemus and Aaron Harris repeatedly plowed through defenders and found holes, combining for 143 yards on 27 carries.
Redshirt freshman Je’Norie Smith showed plenty of speed. He who ran for 33 yards and caught four balls for 23 yards.
“Je’Norie has really been a pleasant surprise this spring,” Donley said. “We only saw him in scout role kid last year, but the kid can catch the ball. He’s a real physical guy, can run and block.”
With all this talent the eyes are still on the quarterbacks heading into the fall. That’s nothing new for Donley and this Cougars program.
“We always do (have a quarterback competition),” Donley said. “It’s kind of an annual tradition, isn’t it?”