One of our Inside Sparta readers posed the challenge to make a case for San Jose State coaches to play two quarterbacks (Kyle Reed and Jordan LaSecla), rather than settle on an established starter and play that person. Since I agree with the approach the coaching staff is currently taking, playing both Reed and LaSecla, I felt I was up to the challenge to make that case.
First off, let me just say up front that I believe Coach Tomey and his staff would have preferred much more to have had one quarterback separate from the rest of the pack last spring, and established themselves as the clear cut No. 1 when fall camp began. But, that simply was not the case. Why is that? Because Jordan LaSecla didn't let that happen. He greatly improved over the past year, and stayed in San Jose over the summer in order to work with the receivers and backs, and on physical conditioning (Reed did so as well). LaSecla has made this a legitimate competition. Both Reed and LaSecla have separated themselves from the rest of the quarterbacks, but not from each other. Tomey stated from the beginning of fall camp that the QB job was not going to be won in practice. The only way to truly determine who should be the starter when conference play begins is to see how they perform in the real line of fire. So, the plan is to play both quarterbacks during the non-conference games, and then settle on a No. 1 by the start of WAC play.
It was no secret that the plan heading into the USC game was to play both, no matter what transpired during the game. It did not matter if the starter in that game went 6 for 6, 125 yards and threw two touchdown passes in the first quarter. The other guy was going to come in at the pre-established time, regardless. As it happened, Reed completed 5 of 8 passes in the first quarter for 44 yards. His longest completion was for 12 yards. He fumbled once and was sacked once. His biggest play was in completing a fourth and nine pass to Kevin Jurovich, which gave the Spartans a first down at the USC 23 yard line. After failing to move the team closer, and two incomplete passes, the Spartans settled for Tyler Cope's 41 yard field goal. While Reed did have some success, he didn't exactly set the world on fire. In that first quarter, he faced a pretty vanilla USC defense.
Jordan LaSecla took over late in the first quarter, and played throughout the end of the third. He completed 5 of 10 passes for 43 yards, and did not turn the ball over. Unlike Reed's first quarter, LaSecla faced a USC defense that had made game time adjustments, and began to stunt and blitz more, which resulted in his facing a lot more pressure and being sacked three times. LaSecla's biggest play came at the end of the first half when he completed a 29 yard pass to Kevin Jurovich, throwing downfield over the middle, with pressure coming at him (a roughing the passer penalty was called). The result of the pass completion and 15 yard penalty gave the Spartans a first down at the USC 20 yard line. However, time expired before LaSecla could spike the ball. Had he been able to stop the clock, it's reasonable to assume that Tyler Cope would have made the 37 yard field goal with the wind at his back, since he had earlier kicked a longer field goal against the wind. When Kyle Reed re-entered the game in the fourth quarter, now facing a much more aggressive USC defense, he complete 4 of 9 passes, for only 22 yards.
Let's assume that Reed had stayed in the game, and played all the way into the fourth quarter. It's my opinion that the result of the game would have been pretty much the same. Against the more aggressive USC defense, Reed would have struggled just as much as LaSecla did, and just as much as he actually did when came back in the fourth quarter. Let's remember, the biggest plays USC made over the course of the game came while San Jose State's offense was on the sidelines. it didn't really matter who the Spartans' quarterback was while Joe McKnight was running for daylight, and USC QB Matt Barkley was completing 15 of his 19 pass attempts. Had Reed played the entire game, the Spartans faithful fan base would now be calling loudly for LaSecla to start against Utah.
What the Spartans gained from playing both quarterbacks was a better understanding of which of the two quarterbacks is best suited to lead them once they enter conference play. LaSecla gained very valuable playing time, against one of the best teams in the country. Should Reed become the established starter and suffer an injury down the road, any playing time LaSecla receives now during the non-conference schedule will be invaluable. Also, there's a strong chance that LaSecla will be the starter next season. The experience he receives this year will help him tremendously next season.
I think Coach Tomey and his staff are looking at the big picture. What they're doing now with the quarterbacks is done so in order to help the team over the entire season. They're not focusing in on playing just one quarterback in order to try and win one specific non-conference game. They're trying to find out which player is going to lead them down the road, while also giving the other quarterback not only a legitimate chance to win the starting job, but also much needed real game experience, against top-notch competition.
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Mike Morgan is a Senior Editor for Inside Sparta. You may contact Mike with any questions, comments, or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org
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