As we’ve all heard, Kirby’s let Jacob Eason run with the ones this week. And for all the hyperventilating about whether that means Eason’s been anointed as the starter, and the speculation about how Smart’s trying to be coy to keep the upperclassmen from transferring, I think there’s a larger point that’s been overlooked.
Freshman Jacob Eason got more first team work this week (while also spending more time with the second team and less with the third). Smart said that was to get more practice reps with the starters since he didn’t go with the No. 1 unit at all in the spring.
“It was a situation where we wanted to try catch him up and evaluate him and get him more reps so we could continue to evaluate the other two and the other two would continue to go but they would also be with the threes some,” Smart said.
The five-star recruit from Lake Stevens, Wash., showed that “he’s growing as a player,” Smart said. “Just the cumulative effect of the reps, it doesn’t matter what offense you’re in, the fact that the other two have been in a college system for three and four years, it puts them in an advantage from the standpoint of dropping back and making decisions, seeing coverages. We’re trying to catch him up to speed and get him some reps and find out what he can do. How he’s responded, I think he’s done a good job of responding to it. He’s had an opportunity to make more plays and also an opportunity to make more mistakes. He’s done both. He’s got to continue to improve there.”
Quite simply, the coaches know that reps matter. And in and of itself, that attitude is a vast improvement over what the quarterbacks were saddled with all of last season.
“We’ll continue to go down this quarterback road until we figure it out,” Smart said. “I can’t tell you anything, update you right now because I want to reserve judgment until I watch the tape like last time.”
I don’t profess to know who gets the final nod, or even who gets weeded out soon, but I feel pretty good about where the coaches appear to be headed. If nothing else, that’s a reason to feel more optimistic about where 2016 is starting over where 2015 finished.