QB derby entering Miner fall practice.
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of articles previewing the 2014 football season at Missouri S&T. The daily stories will feature one position, or a set of positions. Today's story features the Miner quarterbacks.
For the second year in a row, Missouri S&T enters its workouts for the upcoming football season with an unclear picture as to who will open up at the quarterback position.
But unlike a year ago, when the Miners were dealing with a lack of experience at the spot, it is now a matter of sorting through a group of players with playing time under their belts and determining which one is the best fit to run the offense for second year head coach Tyler Fenwick.
“There are a lot of opportunities here,” Fenwick said. “We have to find the best guy that can move our offense. What kind of a quarterback – we're not sure. We want the one that will be the most efficient, not turn the ball over and be able to lead and direct our offense. He has to be one the other ten guys on offense can look up to.”
The player with the most experience at the spot in a Miner uniform is junior Reed Brown (Rogers, Ark./Heritage HS), who completed over 57 percent of his passes for 1,327 yards and four touchdowns. But when Brown went down with an injury late in the first half of the Miners' game against Saint Joseph's, sophomore Peter Simpson (St. Louis, Mo./Lindbergh) took over as the starter for the balance of the year and led S&T to a win in not only in that contest, but in three of the last four games as well.
Simpson threw for 1,064 yards and six scores on the season, with much of that coming after taking over in the Saint Joseph's contest. All six of his scoring tosses came in the four wins he was a part of.
“Peter got better as the year went on and I think a lot of it was experience – game-to-game, learning in games what was going on and also getting a better grasp of the offense,” Fenwick said.
A third quarterback in the mix is junior college transfer Kason Key (Owasso, Okla./Owasso), who was with the team during its spring workouts and went 12-of-16 for 144 yards during the spring game in April. Key, a sophomore, joined the S&T program from Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.
“One of the things I really learned about him was his football knowledge,” Fenwick said. “He picks things up very well. He understands defenses, sees them rolling and knows different coverages - and his brain works in that way. He knows where to go with the ball. Just throughout the 15 practices for him, it started from day one in learning the offense, so hopefully things will slow down for him as we get into fall camp.”
Junior Evan Merz (O'Fallon, Mo./St. Dominic HS) saw some playing time at the position last year and the Miners also return redshirt freshman Tyler Swart (Dickinson, Texas/Dickinson). Incoming freshman Lamar Wilkes (Maryland Heights, Mo./Pattonville) could also get a long look at the spot during the pre-season.