Herald-Whig

When Hawks put pads on, season's outlook will start to be revealed

Quincy University redshirt sophomore quarterback Trey Mosley, right, warms up with senior quarterback Andrew Rund before a drill during the first day of practice at QU Stadium. Mosley and Rund will compete throughout the fall camp for the starting signal-caller spot. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Aug. 11, 2019 12:01 am

Everyone looks good until the pads come on.

Through two days of helmet-only workouts, the Quincy University football team has been crisp, efficient and determined. The Hawks have yet to get physical, which steadily begins as they roll into a new week.

That's when the separation occurs. QU coach Gary Bass said he felt like he had nine offensive lineman capable of starting, but who among those nine sets themselves apart once they are in full pads? The same goes for the stable of running backs and the plethora of wide receivers.

Such questions aren't limited to the offense alone. Defensively, the Hawks have to determine who the thumpers are in the middle of the field and which ends will provide a consistent pass rush. There is also the matter of finding an x-factor on special teams.

How the Hawks answer these and other questions prior to the September 7 season opener at Central State in Wilberforce, Ohio, will tell us just how good they may actually look with the pads on.

Here are some scenarios to follow as camp progresses:

Will there be consistency at quarterback?

Throughout the past two seasons, the Hawks have tried multiple options under center, including a safety-turned-receiver who stepped in and ran the option like he had in high school. It left the offense without a bona fide leader.

Eventually, the coaching staff came back around to Andrew Rund both times, allowing him to make 11 starts as a sophomore and nine as a junior. Now a senior, he entered camp No. 1 on the depth chart and is expected to be the starter Week 1. He is going to get a stiff challenge from redshirt sophomore Trey Mosley, which means he must win the job. It won't be handed to him.

Rund will need to continue to show he can do more than manage the offense.

In 28 career games, he has completed 51.9 percent of his passes, but he averages just 11 yards per completion. He has thrown 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions, and must be more protective of the ball.

The same can be said for Mosley. In limited snaps as a true freshman in 2017, Mosley threw four interceptions in just 34 attempts. He's more athletically gifted than Rund, and working the sideline last season while redshirting should help his maturation. He could be the dynamic presence that fits nicely into QU's up-tempo scheme.

Whoever wins the job needs to be trusted to keep the job. QU can't climb the GLVC ladder if it endures another season of inconsistency and doubt under center.

 

How do you replace an All-American linebacker?

Cody Leonard's presence was as large as any player on the field last season. Yet his absence hasn't been so noticeable.

That's because the Hawks were prepared for the All-American linebacker's graduation.

Peyten Chappel could be the next great ball-hawking defender, having piled up seven tackles for loss and two interceptions playing alongside or behind Leonard. Marvion Harris stepped in as a true freshman at middle linebacker last season and was one of the thumpers defensive coordinator Sean Kelly will rely on.

Sam Mock, a senior, is the veteran voice in the group and the anchor, giving a young unit needed leadership.

None of the three are expected to pile up 160 tackles individually, but collectively, they have to be ready to make plays sideline-to-sideline the way Leonard often did.

 

Who emerges in the backfield?

Injuries and lack of experienced depth forced the QU coaching to convert a cornerback to a running back midway through last season. Theo Hopkins handled it well, leading the Hawks with 496 yards and five touchdowns.

Two of the next four leading rushers were quarterbacks, illustrating how desperate the Hawks were for someone to take hold of the job.

Oscee Calhoun is getting a second crack at it and looks good to start. The junior college transfer entered last fall as the starter, suffering a season-ending foot injury and left the program. He has returned with two years of eligibility remaining, a healthy body and the explosiveness that landed him a scholarship in the first place.

The Hawks need a bevy of backs to shoulder the load, which is where the likes of Jalen Griffin, Sherond Boyd and others find themselves. They will get carries and must complement Calhoun, giving the Hawks the advantage of interchangeable parts and depth to handle any setbacks that could possibly occur.

 

How deep will this receiving corps be?

Carlton Stamp finally gets to show what he can do. Marlin Washington was good last season and should be better. Gabriel Bryant has the chance to be a game-breaker.

Those three alone at wide receiver give the Hawks a dynamic edge. Add Brandon Gaston, a junior transfer from Western Illinois University, to that mix and the Hawks should be able to dictate mismatches on the outside.

QU coach Gary Bass called it the most talented group of receivers the Hawks have had since he's been here, and he's coached two of the program's best all-time targets -- Justin Dickens and Eric Poindexter -- since arriving as an assistant coach in 2012. Neither of those guys were flanked by the kind of playmakers this staff has assembled.

Those top four targets will be pushed by others, including the tight ends, for playing time and targets throughout each game.

 

How will local recruits figure into the Hawks' plans?

If the season were to start this week, there would be at least two graduates of a local high school in QU's starting lineup and a few others expected to play.

Mitch Carey, maligned by injuries the first three years of his collegiate career, is the projected starter at left guard. The Quincy Notre Dame product had earned the opportunity to play as a redshirt freshman two years ago, but a variety of setbacks kept him off the field. He's healthy, stronger and smarter now that he gets his shot.

Quincy High School alum Nathan Kewney returns as one of the top punters in the Great Lakes Valley Conference and is a weapon the Hawks embrace when it comes to flipping the field. He might be flanked by another former QHS kicker if redshirt freshman Avery Wilson earns the placekicking duties.

Wilson and junior Mikey Klotz will battle throughout the fall to be the starter. Klotz has experience. Wilson has the bigger leg. It should be an interesting battle.

Redshirt freshman linebacker Jackson Connell, a QND product, is currently among the second-string at linebacker, which figures to earn him some snaps.