Pack will use two QBs against Boise
For the Nevada Appeal
RENO – The University of Nevada.
One community. One Pack.
“I’m not a two-quarterback guy,” Nevada head football coach Chris Ault said this week.
Don’t believe him.
Ault also said this week that he will definitely play both quarterbacks, Tyler Lantrip and Cody Fajardo, and maybe even third-stringer Mason Magleby as well, at Boise State today (11:30 a.m., 630AM, Versus television) at Bronco Stadium.
Lantrip, a senior, started the first three games with moderate success. Fajardo, a red-shirt freshman, has made two relief appearances, including last week when he played about half the game in a 35-34 loss at Texas Tech.
“We’ll use both,” said Ault, who kept the name of his starter a secret this week. “It just depends on the situation. But both have skills that we can use.”
Both Lantrip and Fajardo seem to be fine with being tossed into a weekly quarterback competition.
“I think it makes us both better,” Fajardo said. “You know that when you are out here in practice or in a game you can’t loaf, you can’t take anything for granted because you know there’s a guy on the sideline who can play just as well as you can and is waiting to get in there. It keeps you on your toes.”
“It’s really not a big deal,” Lantrip said. “I just want to come out here, get better and do my job. Of course starting is important to me but my focus is just getting better every week.”
Lantrip has completed 43-of-74 passes this year for two touchdowns and 522 yards with four interceptions. He’s also run the ball 31 times for 122 yards. Fajardo is 6-of-10 through the air for 73 yards, one interception and one touchdown. The fleet-footed Fajardo has run 16 times for 197 yards and three scores.
By comparison, Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore, a legitimate Heisman Trophy candidate, has completed 83-of-105 passes for 995 yards, 12 touchdowns and two interceptions. But unlike Lantrip and Fajardo, Moore doesn’t have to worry about being taken out of a game after throwing a bad pass or making a bad read.
Lantrip, for example, was taken out of last Saturday’s game at Texas Tech after missing an open receiver. “He rolled out, the receiver was wide open and he threw it into the ground,” Ault said. “I just said, ‘OK, that’s enough of that. We can’t have that.'”
Lantrip ended up taking 40 snaps against Texas Tech and Fajardo had 30. Lantrip threw for 191 yards and the offense ran for 72 yards while he was in there for a total of 263 yards and 10 points. While Fajardo was on the field, the offense picked up 299 yards (240 on the ground) and scored 24 points.
“Both played well and both carried themselves well,” Ault said. “I was very pleased.”
Ault insists that he will settle on a starting quarterback sometime in the near future and that quarterback will get the bulk of the snaps.
“We are moving in that direction,” he said.
Until that happens, both Lantrip and Fajardo will be on the field.
“It could work out that both of us will play in every game the rest of the year,” Fajardo said. “Who knows? If both guys are playing well that could very well happen. All Coach Ault tells me is to be ready.”
When that happened against Texas Tech, it came a bit sooner than Fajardo expected.
“Coach came up to me and said, ‘All right. You ready?'” Fajardo said. “Inside I was thinking, ‘Wow? Already?’ I didn’t say that out loud, of course. I just went in and before I knew it I was on the field.”
Fajardo scampered for 16 yards on his first play. Later on the drive he went for seven more yards and he capped it all off with a 6-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 7-7.
Fajardo then started his next drive with a 34-yard run and finished it off with a 16-yard touchdown pass to tight end Kolby Arendse.
“Once I relaxed I did OK,” said Fajardo, who added a 56-yard touchdown run for a 28-14 Pack lead late in the third quarter.
“They have two good quarterbacks,” Boise State head coach Chris Petersen said this week. “And they use them both. Like most offenses, they are quarterback-driven. And when you have a guy who can run and make great reads that offense takes on a whole another life.”
That’s what Fajardo seems to be doing for the Pack lately.
“Cody is closing the gap,” Ault said. “He’s ready. He’s sufficient enough to run this offense.”
Fajardo’s ability to make big plays with his legs seems to have Ault excited.
“In this offense you need a quarterback who can run and run well,” Ault said. “That puts another dimension on the defense to worry about.”
Ault, Lantrip and Fajardo all agreed on one thing. Playing musical quarterbacks is not really an ideal situation. Ault switched Lantrip and Fajardo four times against Texas Tech.
“It hurts your rhythm,” Lantrip said.
“It is tough to get in a rhythm when you are going in and out,” Fajardo said.
“In this pistol offense there is a rhythm,” Ault said. “You don’t want to keep switching guys in and out. It hurts everyone around him.”
Ault also said he runs the risk of being too predictable, depending on whether it’s Lantrip or Fajardo in the game. It’s no secret that Fajardo is the better runner and Lantrip has a better grasp of the passing game.
“I don’t want to get in a deal where we put in Cody and everybody says, ‘OK, now they are going to run the quarterback,” or ‘Lantrip’s in there, so now they are going to throw,'” Ault said. “That won’t work. But both of these guys can do both. Both can hurt you with their arm or their legs.”
It’s really all about the guy who hurts the Pack the least.
“We need to find the guy who runs this offense the most efficiently,” Ault said. “Now, we’ll continue to use both but we need a guy who can eliminate the mistakes.”
Boise, Ault said, is not a team that will allow an opponent to overcome its mistakes. The Broncos are 3-0 and ranked No. 4 in the nation after blitzing Georgia, Toledo and Tulsa by an average of 20 points. Moore has completed passes to at least nine different receivers in every game and Doug Martin has rushed for 202 yards on the ground.
And, by the way, the Broncos are almost unbeatable at home, winning 70 of their last 72 games at Bronco Stadium. The Pack is 2-15 against Boise in Boise (they are also 0-2 in bowl games in Boise against Miami and Maryland) down through the years.
Talking about Boise, though, is not Ault’s favorite topic of conversation.
“Not much needs to be said about the Broncos,” Ault said. “They are one of the best football teams in the country. We don’t have to talk about them. We have to talk about ourselves and what we need to do.”