The Blitz: Seven teams dealing with QB injuries or competitions entering Week 4

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It was not a good week for starting quarterbacks. Three teams had to replace a starting quarterback due to injury, while four more teams currently are not settled on one quarterback, and one team had a high-profile transfer depart for unknown reasons two weeks into the season.

All of that is contained in this week’s edition of the Blitz, but I want to discuss how some sub-FBS coaches play gamesmanship with their depth charts.

Every fan knows the name of the starting quarterback for their team, so fans will eagerly await the release of a team’s depth chart, typically in their preview of the contest. However, I advise fans to understand that coaches often use the depth chart to hide information from opposing teams.

If a team has an injury at quarterback, they will most likely be listed as the starter regardless of their availability unless the injury is of the season-ending variety. Coaches dealing with a quarterback competition will unlikely reveal any clues in the depth chart.

It’s the gamesmanship part of the profession. Coaches want opposing teams to be forced to prepare for as many players as possible, limiting their ability to hone in on one or two players. 

Do the shenanigans hurt the opposing team? I have no idea, but I know some sub-FBS coaches who refuse to update the depth chart following the season's opening game, regardless of injury.

It’s all a part of the game within the game and keeps all of us on our toes, which adds intrigue for this writer.

Southland Conference

  • The Texas A&M-Commerce quarterback situation turned worse last week with the announcement of Jagger LaRoe leaving the football program. Zadock Dinklemann received the start against Sam Houston Saturday with Eric Rodriguez injured and completed 13-of-25 passes for 169 yards and led the Lions with 20 yards rushing. Rodriguez participated in pregame drills and could return when the Lions begin conference play in two weeks.

  • UIW is rolling on offense and defense, which bodes well for the Cardinals heading into a big conference game at Southeastern Louisiana this week. The rushing attack has been incredibly effective, and UIW has three solid running backs Jarrell Wiley, Marcus Cooper, and Isaiah Robinson.

  • Another team with uncertainty at quarterback this week is Lamar. Michael Chandler was the starter for the third consecutive game but was replaced by Nick Yockey late in the third quarter. Yockey provided the offense a spark completing 10-of-11 passes for 71 yards.

  • UIW’s Lindsey Scott Jr. was the Southland co-offensive Player of the Week, while Lamar DL Jack McCarthy earned special teams honors after blocking a field goal in the first half.

Southwestern Athletic Conference

  • The SWAC announced they would begin a new pregame show that will air weekly on the SWAC Digital Network and ESPN+. Cricket SWAC Football Game Day, presented by Pepsi Zero Sugar, will be hosted in studio by Tolly Carr and feature highlights, upcoming matchups, and more.

  • Andrew Body is a fantastic talent, but the Texas Southern defense stole the Arlington Football Showcase last week. I wrote about the Tigers impressive defensive performance, how Body was unstoppable in the first half, and what coach Clarence McKinney says is the next step for his improving program.

  • Richard Garcia earned SWAC special teams Player of the Week honors after averaging 46.2 yards per punt and connecting on one field goal and three extra points against Southern.

  • Prairie View A&M QB Trazon Connley sat out the Panthers game against UIW with an ankle injury. It appears Connley will return soon, and freshman CJ Dumas earned the start against the Cardinals. PVAMU’s rushing attack was solid against UIW but the passing game suffered with Connley’s absence.

Western Athletic Conference

  • Sam Houston’s offense scored its first three touchdowns of the season in a win over Texas A&M-Commerce. Jordan Yates started at quarterback and was replaced in the second half by Keegan Shoemaker. The Bearkats have a bye this week before the Battle of the Piney Woods. Expect to see Shoemaker get the start after his performance against Stephen F. Austin last year.

  • The Bearkats had two players earn Player of the Week honors. RB Zach Hrbacek was the offensive selection after recording his first 100-yard rushing performance, while Seth Morgan earned the special teams honors with a pair of field goals from 40 and 46 yards.

Lone Star Conference

  • If you are a fan with no rooting interest, then last Saturday’s game between Texas A&M-Kingsville and West Texas A&M was a lot of fun. If you are a fan, I imagine you may still be taking heartburn medication. It was a game filled with turnovers from both teams combined with two offenses firing on all cylinders at times and sprinkled with complaints about the officiating crew. The Javelinas departed Canyon with a 31-24 victory.

  • The Buffs were without LSC Preseason Defensive Player of the Year JT Cavender against the Javelinas. It remains to be determined how much time Cavender will miss, but the WT's run defense missed his presence last week.

  • The Javelinas swept the LSC weekly awards, with RB Christian Anderson earning the offensive honors. At the same time, Isaiah Jacobs was given the nod on defense, and Gilbert Garza took home special teams honors after nailing a 52-yard field goal.

  • Angelo State raced to a big lead early and showed resilience in the second half when UTPB pulled within one score late in the third quarter. The Rams settled down and ended up with a comfortable 34-21 win. The Falcons have an explosive offense, and MJ Link set the program record for career receiving touchdowns on a night when he caught five passes for 191 yards.

  • The Midwestern State defense extended an impressive streak against Michigan Tech last week. The Mustangs have had a pick-six in their previous four games dating back to last season. Dylon Davis is responsible for two of the touchdowns. At the same time, Justin Guillory returned an interception for a touchdown in Week 1, and Melik Owens put MSU in the lead for good against Michigan Tech with his pick-six last Saturday. 

  • The Mustangs are another team that remains undecided at quarterback. Neiko Hollins earned the start but was replaced by Dillon Sterling-Cole, who was more effective against Michigan Tech. Expect to see the battle continue for at least two more weeks.

American Southwest Conference

  • Hardin-Simmons proved they belong among the top teams in the country with a dominating 41-0 win at Wisconsin-Platteville. The Cowboys dominated the line of scrimmage against the Pioneers. However, HSU had two drives end in field goals, and they need to turn those into touchdowns against Mary Hardin-Baylor this week.

  • Howard Payne scored 50 unanswered points en route to obliterating Hendrix 67-10 in Prosper last week. The Yellow Jackets set a program record with 769 total yards of offense. More impressive was the balance of the HPU offense, with 394 passing and 375 rushing yards. Sophomore Javian Myles led the rushing attack with 151 yards and three touchdowns on 14 attempts.

  • Southwestern QB Landry Gilpin sat out last week’s game against UMHB with an injury head coach Joe Austin called “minor” during his coaches’ show, and it sounds like Gilpin will be ready when McMurry visits this weekend.

  • The War Hawks also have a continuing quarterback battle. Andrew McBride was the starter against East Texas Baptist but was replaced by Ricardo Luna following McMurry’s opening drive of the second half. Unfortunately, neither quarterback was very effective, and the War Hawks offense continues to struggle this year.

  • The Lobos offense was explosive in Sul Ross State’s dominating 55-14 win over Austin College. T.J. DeShields set the program record for passing yards (559)  and touchdowns (7) in a game. The Lobos scored a touchdown on 8-of-11 drives in the contest and hopes to carry that momentum to Texas Lutheran this weekend.

  • DeShields took home ASC Offensive Player of the Week honors. At the same time, ETBU LB Joey Johnson and Hardin-Simmons LB Matt Mitchell shared the defensive award. UMHB’s KJ Miller was the special teams selection after setting the program record for punt return yards during his career.

Southern Athletic Association

  • BJ Stewart opened the game with a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in Trinity’s 52-14 win over Texas Lutheran. The Tigers converted 6-of-8 third down conversions while building a 45-7 lead after three quarters. Trinity has a bye before beginning conference play at Hendrix.

  • Stewart was selected as SAA Special Teams Player of the Week after returning a punt 75-yards for a touchdown in addition to returning the opening kickoff 97-yards for a touchdown.

Sooner Athletic Conference

  • “They are where we want to be,” Texas Wesleyan coach Joe Prud’homme said during his weekly coaches show about the Rams opponent last week. The Rams more than held their own against Ottawa (Ariz.) but will lament departing with four field goals in six red zone opportunities in a 27-22 loss.

  • Rams K Armando Benitez did earn SAC Special Teams Player of the Week honors after connecting on five field goals against OUAZ.

Southwestern Junior College Football Conference

  • The Kilgore defense finally showed a crack, and New Mexico Military Institute took advantage with two touchdowns in the final 1:48 of the game to defeat the Rangers 31-24. The defense is why the Rangers had a chance with two special teams errors and three turnovers from the offense. However, Kilgore will need more from its passing game moving forward.

  • Trinity Valley scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter to stun Tyler 28-27. Channing Canada pulled the Cardinals within a touchdown with a 92-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and Quincy Thompson capped his 130-yard performance with a one-yard touchdown run that completed the scoring in the game.

  • The loss is excruciating for Tyler, who has lost two consecutive games against TVCC this week and Kilgore two weeks ago. The Apaches have another bye week before traveling to meet Northeastern Oklahoma A&M.

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