Managing the offense: Nolan has been efficient for Carson
When you play quarterback in Carson High’s offense, which is predicated on the run, you are asked to manage the game and not necessarily win games by yourself.
If you look at junior quarterback Matt Nolan’s body of work, he would deserve at least a B.
Entering today’s 4A state semifinal game against Reed at 12:15 p.m. at Mackay Stadium, Nolan has thrown for 1,363 yards and 11 touchdowns, and he’s carried the ball 71 times for 271 yards and two scores.
Solid numbers to be sure, although several 4A quarterbacks have thrown for more yardage, but those quarterbacks play for teams who rely more on passing than running to move the ball.
The most impressive stat for Nolan is the way he takes care of the ball, especially in the passing game. He’s thrown just three interceptions in 137 attempts. Breaking it down, he throws an interception every 45 attempts which works out to one every three-plus games.
A lot of his success can be attributed to his football IQ and understanding of the Senators’ complex offense and what’s expected out of the quarterback position.
“I feel like I’ve played pretty well,” Nolan said. “Through the season, I feel like I’ve progressed a lot in terms of the passing game and reads. There is always room for improvement. I think I’m pretty balanced now.”
Nolan’s play has been impressive to coach Blair Roman, who was a high school quarterback himself at Douglas High School.
“At the beginning of the season, one of the things I liked about Matt was when we had a football conversation he understood what I was talking about,” Roman said. “We communicated very well. I don’t have to show him or explain something to him more than once.
“I expect 60 percent completions out of my quarterbacks. He has far surpassed that. He hasn’t thrown as many touchdowns as (A.J.) Silva from Reed. As far as effectiveness he’s been at a high level all year.”
Nolan admits there have been times where he is seeing one thing and his coach is seeing another. He said he takes in the information and moves on.
He said you can’t dwell on past plays.
Nolan will be the first to tell that it’s easier to be effective when you have running backs like Dylan Sawyers and Chance Quiling to hand the ball off to and a receiver like Brock Pradere to throw to.
Nolan and Pradere have hooked up for some big plays this year. Pradere has turned into a legitimate big-play threat, averaging nearly 20 yards a reception. Pradere has shown the ability to go up and get “jump balls.”
Nolan is the first to admit that his arm strength needs to improve a little bit. He estimates he can throw the ball 55 yards in the air.
“I think it’s 7 on a good day,” he said, smiling. “I need to get in the weight room more and to work with coach Roman in the off-season.”
“Matt has above-average arm strength,” Roman said. “This is the first year that he’s actually lifted weights.”
Nolan was more effective running the ball early in the season, rushing for 52 yards in a 34-0 loss to Highland and gaining 65 yards on the ground in a 45-0 win over North Valleys. Since then, he’s been doing more damage with his arm than his feet.
Looking back on his season, Nolan said that his top three games were against Spanish Springs, the playoff game against Manogue and Reno.
Against Spanish Springs, he completed 11 of 15 for 243 yards and three scores. In the win over Manogue, he completed 10 of 15 for 139 yards and two scores. He completed 13 of 15 for 128 yards against Reno.
“Everybody thought we were going to lose to Spanish Springs because we didn’t have Dylan,” Nolan said. “The Manogue game was big for me because of the way we stepped up in the second half and I made some pretty good throws. I wanted to play well against Reno for our seniors because they beat us last year.”
Nolan had a 38-yard TD pass to Pradere and a 27-yard TD pass to Luke Maher in Carson’s 32-21 playoff win over Manogue this past Monday.
His worst game? That was probably the second Damonte Ranch game when he threw his second and third interceptions of the season.
“Both of those were not good passes,” Roman said. “The first one was on a crossing route. It was a good route but a poor throw. The other one was a fade route and the ball got tipped.”
Nolan had a tough outing in the first Manogue game, completing six of 11 passes for 64 yards and carrying the ball nine times for 18 yards.
“He was sick,” Roman said. “He didn’t even practice. I didn’t know if he was going to be able to play.”
Another thing Roman likes about Nolan is the toughness. Whether it’s avoiding the oncoming pass rush or trying to maneuver downfield on a scramble or designated keeper play.
“He’s not the biggest kid around,” Roman said. “He’s a tough kid, a really tough kid. He’s not afraid of anything.”