Below, we break down the Aggie quarterbacks competing for the starting job during spring practices. For a story on what to expect from the Aggie offensive scheme in 2013, click here.
Aggie fans are familiar with this junior player, but let’s also define Manley’s game for the record. His strength is throwing the football, with the farther and faster the pass needs to be, typically the better. His weaknesses have been getting rid of the ball in a timely fashion to the short and intermediate routes, and lack of mobility. If Manley wants to be the Aggies' starter in 2013, the latter two deficiencies — as well as the line’s ability to protect him — must improve (and most likely will with better offensive acumen). One thing Manley has going for him is experience, as well as starting for Doug Martin in 2011. What he isn’t is a runner, which would be the ideal fit in NMSU’s 2013 attack.
Quoting Manley: “This offseason I put a lot of work into it. I dropped 20 pounds, I’ve just been working on trying to get faster. So when I do have to keep it, I can actually pick up some yards. Not just be the stiff guy in the backfield and take sacks all the time.”
Quoting Martin: “He’s never going to be a runner. But he’s got to be able to move in the pocket and stay alive back there. I think (losing 15 to 20 pounds) has helped him.”
Colwell has mobility, and athletically seems like a good fit in the quarterback-option running game. He was misused last year — brought in for the occasional down or series, yet deployed primarily as a wildcat runner and seldom as a passer. Alas, that’s where Colwell needs to make progress — in his passing game. Martin said if Colwell doesn’t win the starting quarterback job outright, the team would likely use him on the field in some capacity, which makes sense (the junior can be a dynamic player). The head coach also pointed out that Colwell has some experience now — he played for the Aggies in 2011 as a freshman (and at times effectively) while getting some time last year, albeit in limited capacity.
Quoting Colwell: “Trusting what you see, making the pass, not tensing up too much. Pitch and catch. .... The running stuff, that’s pretty natural to me.”
Quoting Martin: “Tra’s biggest thing is anticipating (receivers) coming open. He has a tendency to wait, see if everything is coming open, and then he tries to make the throw. You’ve got to try to anticipate that guy coming out of the break.”
This is a junior college player who was recruited to NMSU last season, yet only threw three passes in mop-up duty at Ohio. Perhaps this season he’ll get his shot, as a quarterback who could be cut from a similar cloth as 2011 starter Matt Christian — from the same junior college league, a quarterback who can create some with his legs and get rid of the ball to the team’s playmakers. Martin said McDonald does bring in-game experience from his days at Santa Ana College. His father, Paul, also played quarterback, first at USC and then in the NFL with the Cleveland Browns (drafted in 1980). With that, McDonald remains unproven on the Division I level.
Quoting McDonald: “I’m not really thinking about last year. It’s a fresh start with the new coaching staff. I’m just trying to get better every day. .... I think this offense, the biggest thing is you have to get completions, make the right decisions and move the sticks. I think those are my best qualities.”
Quoting Martin: “Andrew is kind of an operator. He can handle the situation well. He’s smart, really heady. He’s one of those quarterbacks, if he doesn’t make mistakes, you can win football games with him. He’s not going to be real flashy and all those types of things. He’s steady.”
King Davis III
Davis III hails from Mesquite, Texas, and will be a true freshman in 2013. Davis said, while he brings mobility to the quarterback position, he operated more out of the pocket during his high school days. He said he’s working with new offensive coordinator Gregg Brandon on concepts such as the team’s shotgun formation and getting rid of the ball faster. Martin said Davis has all the athletic attributes the team would want in its “future quarterback.” Similar to Colwell, Martin said he would like all his QBs to get on the field in some capacity. In Davis’ case, if he were a backup, Martin said, “he’s not going to stand on the sidelines next to me.”
Quoting Davis: “Being a freshman, I don’t feel much heat. I feel like I can just go out there and play. Being so young, I think for the other quarterbacks, it brings them good competition. I can just go out there and sling it.”
Quoting Martin: “Accuracy is the thing he’s got to improve on right now. At times he really puts it right on them. At other times, he’s got to be more accurate. But part of that is him learning the system, and learning how to practice as a college player.”
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