At the start of spring practice, there is no solid leader for the Mustangs starting quarterback position. The most glorified position on the football field has become a guessing game for Cal Poly.
Will it be Tony Smith, or Andre Broadous?
A year ago, the passing offense Smith commanded was under scrutiny. Incompletion after incompletion, he and the passing game struggled to get on their feet. But Wednesday afternoon, tight spirals and accurate throws came from the quarterback who many questioned. After starting for a year, Smith has a season full of experience against Division-I defenses. Last spring, Smith had a new offense to learn under a revamped coaching staff. This spring, Smith knows the offense, he has seen what works in games, he knows where the big play is going to be.
“Now we have a good idea of who we are and what type of players we have — we have an idea on what can make us successful. I think we are ready to execute,” Smith said.
With learning the X’s and O’s out of the way, Smith can focus on the little things.
“It’s just football now,” Smith said. “I know I can come out here and work. I know the things that I have to work on. I feel good.”
During the first day of spring practice, Smith walked around the field with swagger. He held his chin high — it was his day to prove that he has what it takes to lead the Mustangs.
“This year, coming back, I can already see it today,” cornerback Asa Jackson said. “(Smith) was throwing the ball, slinging it around, looking good, putting the ball on the money, I can see (what he can be) — and I’m excited.”
Completion after completion, his performance didn’t go unnoticed — he impressed head coach Tim Walsh.
“I think Tony had a great practice today and we want to see what he can do when he puts the pads back on,” Walsh said.
But the position is not unanimously his. Standing in his shadow is Andre Broadous — a former Oregon State Player of the Year waiting to grab hold of the starting quarterback position. Broadous racked up 6,000 yards of total offense at Grant High school in 2006 and 2007. Last season, he saw limited playing time and didn’t accumulate many stats.
“I’m athletic, and we run the triple-option here, so that works towards my strengths as a quarterback,” Broadous said. “I just got to get the mental part down, adjusting the plays at the line of scrimmage, learning the offense, being a leader on and off the field — all the other intangibles besides the physical ones.”
Still, Walsh isn’t sold on a starting quarterback. It is either Smith, the experienced veteran who knows the offense well and has the numbers, or Broadous, the inexperienced athlete who has the intangibles to be your prototypical triple-option quarterback.
“Day one, without pads on, (Smith) demonstrated some of the things we wanted to see him do to continue to stay at quarterback. On the same hand, we saw (Bradous) do some of the same things he needs to improve upon in order to be the quarterback,” Walsh said.
Each wants to become the starter; neither wants to spend his season on the bench. Walsh plans to use that to both players’ advantage. He said he is going to let the competitiveness of both players help him decide the starter.
“We want to make that position as competitive as we possibly can, for our team’s growth but also push those two guys to be the two best players that they can be,” Walsh said. “I think that’s as good competitive spirit to have.”
Each player has the skill set that the other wants. Smith wants to improve an aspect of his game Broadous possesses: athleticism.
“I want to become a better factor in the run game,” Smith said. “I feel my training in the offseason has prepared me for that. I just need to do more of an explosive player, which I feel that I can be.”
Broadous seeks to improve an aspect of his game that Smith utilizes, awareness.
“I have a good arm,” Broadous said. “I have the ability to make all the throws in this offense. I don’t think the physical part is the problem for me right now … (Smith) picked up to the offense faster than I did. He has more of the mental game than me.”
For now, Smith looks like he will end up at the top of the depth chart, but Broadous is not going to sit back quietly.
“I’m hungry,” Broadous said. “I want to start.”