Aggie quarterbacks meet with media

Last year against rival Texas-El Paso, New Mexico State head football coach Tony Samuel used quarterbacks Buck Pierce and Paul Dombrowski. For a while he even alternated the signal callers on a play-by-play basis. The coach felt he needed to do so because Pierce — who had begun the season as the starter — was recovering from an injury and Dombrowski was an inexperienced redshirt freshman.

"Paul was still a young buck," Samuel said Thursday at Aggie Media Day. Then he paused, and grinned. "That was a good play on words, I couldn't do that again if I tried." The message, if there was one, pointed to the fact that Dombrowski was no longer the backup to Pierce.

"We have two starting quarterbacks," Samuel clarified. "I'd put our quarterbacks up against anybody in the country in this system." Pierce was clearly the No. 1 guy at the start of last season, although Dombrowski was scheduled to see playing time; Samuel and his staff insist on giving the No. 2 quarterback experience throughout the season, if possible.

But after Pierce was injured in the second game of the season at California, Dombrowski found the weight of the Aggie offense resting on his shoulders. His first start came against rival New Mexico and he led the Ags to victory. The duo shared playing time for several weeks and then, on a long touchdown run, Pierce was again injured on Oct. 12 against Louisiana.

The rest is history. Pierce eventually came back and played well in limited action while Dombrowski set a single-season record for rushing yards by an New Mexico State Aggie quarterback.

Both players hit the conditioning trail and weight room during the offseason — Dombrowski now checks in at 6-foot-1, 214 pounds and has the frame to match his fullback running style — and both said they feel healthy and confident. Along with linebacker Tim Patrick, both QBs were chosen by their teammates as captains. And they want to lead the team.

"We're both prepared to start," said Dombrowski. Pierce, a 6-1, 210-pound fourth-year junior, said both players understand that the situation won't work if egos get in the way. "We both want to do what's best for the team," he said. The two signal callers also know that, barring injury, they will see a lot of action. "Both will play every single game, and they know that," Samuel said. "I don't know a lot of places where both quarterbacks are voted captains by the team.

"When we were at Nebraska, we won a national championship with two quarterbacks," the former Cornhusker assistant reminded his audience. As for which guy will start any given game, Samuel told the media, "We'll figure that out game week, but we won't tell you guys." He also hinted, as he has since last year, that he would not be opposed to a few offensive formations that include both quarterbacks in the backfield at the same time.

Pierce and Dombrowksi expect some form of shenanigans. "I'm sure we'll do something," Pierce said. "We're both talented and we both know the system." The Aggies start their season Aug. 31 at Texas


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