By Allen Moff | Staff Writer
Paul Haynes made quite possibly his most difficult decision since taking over the Kent State football program last January earlier this week when he named redshirt freshman Colin Reardon his starting quarterback.
Reardon and senior David Fisher battled for the job last spring (until Fisher was injured midway through camp) and throughout preseason camp, with both players taking basically the same amount of snaps with the No. 1 offense during each practice and scrimmage.
In the end, Reardon emerged as the winner of an extremely tight competition, and will start Thursday's season opener against Liberty.
"We just felt as a staff, it wasn't just my decision, that he did just a little bit better than David," said Haynes. "Maybe a couple days he did just a little bit better controlling the offense and managing the offense, controlling the huddle, things like that. You sit there and start looking for some of the other intangibles, presence in the huddle -- not that David doesn't have it, he does, but we can only have one (quarterback) out there at one time.
"There's a lot that goes into (the decision). He's the guy right now, and he's gotta continue to get better."
Haynes said he set the stage for the quarterback competition long ago.
"I told them in January that you guys are battling for this deal, and I'm treating you like every other position. I'm basing it off what you put on film day by day and week by week," said Haynes.
While choosing the redshirt freshman with four years of eligibility remaining over the senior in a tight competition would seem to make sense, that wasn't a factor in the decision to start Reardon, according to Haynes.
"I don't really sit there and look at the future. I look at what can help us win right now," said Haynes. "That's the decision that was made, to help us win right now."
Haynes has said the quarterback, like every other position, would be reviewed on a week-by-week basis, so Reardon is not assured of anything but a start in the opener.
"I know a lot of people are sitting there saying (Reardon's) the guy. He is the guy for us right now, but I just want to make sure they keep fighting," said Haynes.
"I don't want David to lose hope because there is hope for him, and we told him that," Haynes said. "One play (injury) and the next guy is in, so the next guy's gotta keep preparing."
Haynes believes the intense preseason competition has made both players better quarterbacks.
"That's a healthy competition," said Haynes. "Those guys aren't against each other, they want each other to perform well and they both have. Both of them really deserve to play. How that's gonna pan out I don't know, but both of them really deserve to play."
FEELING LIKE A HEAD COACH
Haynes was also asked following preseason camp how he feels heading into his first game as a head coach.
"I don't know if you ever feel great," he said. "One thing everyone asks me is what's the difference between being a position coach and a head coach. When you've got (just) your position, you kind of feel a little bit good about your position, you just concentrate on those guys. Then you move to a coordinator and you've got the whole defense, I think your level of feeling good goes down a little bit more. Then you go to head coach and it goes down real quick."
Despite that uneasy feeling, Haynes can't wait to get the 2013 party officially started.
"I love our locker room. I love our kids, I love their work ethic, I love coming to work and seeing these guys," said Haynes. "But until I go to battle with these guys, that's when tough levels go up with them to me more than me to them. I can't wait to go into battle with these guys and just get this journey started.
"I feel good where we are. Do I feel comfortable? I never feel comfortable. It's just in my nature, cause I always look at ways you can get better and there's always ways you can get better. We will continue to do that day in and day out, just make sure we play like champions every day. That's how we gotta approach this whole season."
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