San Jose State Spartan football opens the 2009 fall camp stronger at the quarterback spot than it did at the start of last season, but questions remain. Currently, two players share the top spot: Kyle Reed and Jordan La Secla, with two former starters vying for playing time. The Spartans also have two freshmen in camp that will also be getting a look.
The QB fight is a key to the Spartans success this season. Even though they have added (and returned) some much-needed firepower, they are going to need a strong field general to navigate them through one of the most difficult non-conference schedules in the country. I think Coach Dick Tomey and his staff would prefer a clear winner before they take that first trip to USC on September 5th. However, don’t be surprised if the QB competition goes on during the first two games, with the two top competitors splitting time. Playing USC and Utah is the ultimate game of survivor.
Kyle Reed (6’-3”-215; 162 of 253 for 1563 yards, with 9 TDs and 6 INTs):
Came out with a flash to begin the 2008 season – after starting the season 3rd on the depth chart—Reed was tops in the nation with an astounding 79% completion ratio. However, Reed’s performance fizzled towards season’s end, which could be attested to a combination of fatigue (he had not played in a real football game for over two years), lack of a running game, missing two of his main WRs (Kevin Jurovich and Jalel Beauchman), and playing through a variety of injuries. This season should be different with the return of Jurovich and Beauchman, plus the addition of one of the top JC WRs in the nation in Marquis Avery and on one of the top JC RBs in Lamon “Mojo” Muldrow. Moreover, he showed he was comfortable working with this group of players during the spring.
In addition, the offense under new offense coordinator Terry Malley appears to be a better fit for Reed. During spring scrimmage, Reed looked sharp; he made good decisions, showed good patients, and was accurate on all passes. Malley also has Reed both under center and in shotgun. Last year, Reed was primarily in shotgun, which made Reed less effective. Reed is much more comfortable moving the pocket and throwing on the run.
Jordan La Secla (6’-3”-205; 10 of 21 for 77 yards, with 1 TD and 1 INT):
Jordan La Secla comes into fall camp sharing the number one spot with Kyle Reed. At first look, it is hard to understand why coach Tomey would list him as sharing the top spot, since La Secla clearly does not have the numbers of Reed. However, La Secla had a great spring camp and really forced his way into the picture. La Secla is a classic drop back passer; a true gunslinger. He has a great arm, makes good decisions and he will stick in the pocket. During spring camp, he showed good strength on out patterns, a nice touch on the timing passes, and good arm strength on the long balls. He is not the scrambler that Reed is, and I thought he held on to the ball too long at times and relied on his arm too much. Still, he has the tools to be very successful in Malley’s offense.
So Who Starts?
It should be a great battle and one to watch throughout camp. La Secla might have a slight edge in terms of fitting the offense; however, I think Reed wins out in the end. Reed is the type of QB Tomey wants. Tomey wants his QBs to do three things (in this order): 1. Take care of the ball (no turnovers!). 2. Move the ball (limit 3 and outs), and 3. Put some points on the board. Reed has shown he can do these things better than any of the current QBs. At times, I thought La Secla had issue with ball security – when he scrambles, he looks to make a play, so he holds the ball loosely. However, when Reed scrambles, he has a firm grip on the ball and will tuck it under and run. Reed is also more willing to concede a play, whereas La Secla will force the issue and (at times) make a bad play. I think Reed’s experience will also be a factor – Tomey knows Reed can lead the team into a hostile environment, even if it is the LA Coliseum.
Waiting Their Turn
Myles Eden (6’-1”, 205. 48 of 83 for 497 yards. 3 TDs and 6 INTs)
The former starter does everything right in practice and even has moments in a game. However, his problem has been consistency in games – he has not been able to string together good series. He looks great on one series and then the next he might throw an INT. Still, the senior had a great spring. He throws a great ball, is a tough runner, and a team leader. He comes into camp as the third QB, and will need to have a great camp to supplant either La Secla or Reed. He is a great competitor, teammate and a student of the game. He will help the starters, as well as mentor the younger QBs, but I would not count him out. He will be ready to go if or when his number is called.
Chad Bozzo (6’-0”, 215. 13 of 33 for 155 yards. 1TD and 1 INT):
You can forgive Bozzo for thinking, “what could have been…” I can still see him chasing down that SDSU DB before being clipped from behind (no call, of course) and separating his throwing shoulder three years ago. Rumor had it that he had beaten out Adam Trafalis for the top spot, and all Adam did was take us to a bowl game. Recruited as a running back, Bozzo is the strongest running QB on the team (and, maybe, the strongest QB on the team), a top field general, and a great competitor. Awarded another year of eligibility, Bozzo is not satisfied with just being on the team. He will compete for time this year, but look for him to come on strong in 2010 to give La Secla a run for his money.
The Young Guns
Dasmen Stewart: (6-3’, 205. Senior HS: 61 of10 for 1076 yards. 13 TDs and 2 INTs. 988 yards rushing)
Right now, Stewart probably is a better athlete than QB, but he has the skills to fit perfectly in Malley’s offense. He comes into camp as one of the youngest players on the team. He might be the most physically gifted QB on the team: Great size, quick feet, and decent speed for a QB (might run too much and will have to cut that down at this level). Not a deep threat (yet), but is said to have a nice release and throws a nice ball. Will get a look in the fall, and, who knows, might move up the depth chart. Tomey has never been afraid of playing freshmen.
Jason Kafka (6’-2”, 175. Senior HS: 60 for 127, for 896 yards. 12 TDs and 5 INTs. 1128 yards rushing):
Kafka is not currently listed on the roster, but he is in the media guide. Kafka is the brother of Northwestern QB Mike Kafka, and was recruited by the Wildcats, along with Illinois and Notre Dame. He is a three-year starter at St. Rita HS (Chicago, Illinois); where he played WR and QB. A versatile, big-time athlete; Kafka has nice wheels and a strong arm (he was a highly recruited baseball player). However, he will need to put on some lbs and hit the weight room. Unless he has a great fall camp, I really expect he will grey shirt this season and come out to challenge in 2010. I also think he could play safety, WR or even corner back.