Quarterback Race

Even with extra reps caused by Fredi Knighten missing the final week of spring drills the battle for the backup quarterback for the Arkansas State Red Wolves is far from settled.


Knighten, the returning starter and first-team All-Sun Belt performer last season, suffered a ham string injury in a scrimmage and that gave redshirt sophomore Cameron Birse and redshirt freshman James Tabary all the snaps down the homestretch of spring practice.

"Just from where I was standing and watching we have got to make better decisions and we can't turn the ball over,'' said head coach Blake Anderson. "And we took sacks in position to score points and ending up not coming away with points. We can't obviously turn the ball over for a touchdown. Just to me it was not one of their better days today compared to what I think they have had up to this point. If it was just a situation or just a day what was little bit off. I think both have had better days leading up to today but there will be some things we can definitely teach from."

In the spring game, with both quarterbacks working with the first and second teams, Birse completed 11 of 21 passes for 199 yards and a touchdown. Tabary was 15 of 21 with two touchdowns and 183 yards passing.

The biggest mistake of the night was Birse throwing a pick-6 to Rocky Hayes midway through the first quarter.

“It was just a bad decision on his part and he suffered the consequences," said Anderson.

"I think he threw it without seeing what was happening on the perimeter and by the time the ball came out, you don’t have a string on it, you can’t bring it back. He let it go and didn’t see what was happening. It gives up 7 points. We are not going to win games doing that. It gave us a good teaching moment."

Tabary did not have any interceptions but he did get sacked for 33 yards. Birse was involved in 13 yards of negative plays. In all there were seven sacks.

"They got a good week’s worth of reps with Fredi out,’’ said Anderson. “They are forced reps because if Fredi had been healthy he would have gotten a lot more of those reps and we would have limited what they did. It was helpful in that sense but we by no means have the No. 2 position decided yet and it will take all fall camp.

“They need more reps and more opportunity to learn to be fair to either one of them, especially James Tabary with no more snaps than he’s really had. He threw scout team ball all year long off of cards.

“I just think there is no rush. We know who the number 1 and we have time to decide on number 2. We may still be deciding on that early in the season. We will take our time and get the right guy because once you go that direction it is hard to go back. You have got to move forward with that.”

The Red Wolves had two quarterbacks in their recruiting class, both from Georgia. D.J. Pearson played at Duluth Northwest and Tajhea Chambers is from Tift County.