Quarterbacks -

Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Kent Austin was looking for advancement in spring training. He got it, from all the QB candidates. This is Part V of an 11-part series discussing spring training with the assistant coaches. Read it inside.

While successful college football requires everyone doing their jobs and is a definite team sport reliant on a mass of people, it's the quarterback who makes the world go around, so to speak.

Rarely have there been great teams without, at the very least, a competent quarterback.

The Rebels are blessed in that regard.

"Jevan (Snead) had a good spring. He's had a couple of off days, but part of that was us installing some new things and him taking some time to get those things down conceptually," Offensive Coordinator/Quarterbacks Coach Kent Austin said. "Jevan has been accurate and is throwing the ball well. He's done everything we've asked of him and has played at the level we expect of him.

"If he's had an issue, it was the instability up front for the first couple of weeks of spring, but they have now developed some chemistry. Jevan has been productive. There is no reason he shouldn't take up where he left off in 2008 or beyond that level."

Behind Snead are senior Billy Tapp and RS freshman Nathan Stanley.

"We are pushing Nathan to answer the challenge we have put in front of him. I have challenged him to be more diligent in his preparation and to take seriously what it means to prepare properly and what it requires," Austin said. "At the end of the day, the number one ability a quarterback has to have is the ability to make great decisions. If you can't do that, you can't put the offense in position to be successful. He has all the physical tools he needs – he's tall, has a live arm and has great lower body mechanics. Those things serve him well and allow him to be accurate. He just needs to be more diligent in the way he approaches the game and I have seen that coming around. Nathan understands things at a deeper level now. I grade that throughout the spring. He's even asking questions now, which he did not do before. He's maturing and doing things better."

"We know what we have in Billy. He's dependable and bright and he will prepare well. He's a great calming influence on the other guys, particularly Jevan. He's very valuable to us. Billy can get us out of any situation at any time and I would be comfortable with him in the game because he's not going to do something to lose it."

Walkon Clayton Moore has also gotten some action in the spring.

"He's like any freshman. The terminology started off being Greek or Chinese to him, and he's starting to understand the mental challenges of the position, but he's real bright and has some football intelligence," Austin noted. "He's picking things up despite a lack of reps in spring. He's done some good things and is working on his mechanics. He's showing progress."

Putting on his offensive coordinator hat, Austin said the main goals of spring were twofold.

"We wanted to identify and develop quality backups and to find a lineup up front with our offensive line that gives us the best combination to win," Kent said. "We juggled some guys around, but I think we have zeroed in on our best lineup and on most of our backups.

"We looked for guys who we could hang our hats on and who were dependable."

Austin said most of the questions were answered in spring, but there will be some more development in August.

"We answered a few questions but have a few more to go," he closed. "Our biggest need area is the development of backup offensive linemen. We also want to make more strides with some more tight ends and getting the backup fullback up to speed since he (Derrick Davis) is new at that position, but we have time and we feel we have ample candidates to get it done in August."

Overview: We know what Jevan Snead can do, but even he expects to do it better in his second season as the starting QB. Stanley made a real push in spring and was arguably one of the most improved players on the team by the end of the spring session. Tapp was steady-eddie throughout. QB is sound, if not way beyond. Offensively, the offensive line situation started to solidify some toward the end of spring, but more work is required there. Other than that, it appears the Rebel offense is on track to be potent again in 2009. Don't be surprised, however, if the offense is given a boost by some newcomers in the fall. Even though there seems to be quality and depth across the board in the skill positions, even those areas can use a little help. A dynamic wideout, a quick-hit running back, another true tight end body and an OL or two would not hurt matters if the freshmen are up to the task.


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