Despite the fact that quarterback competition is rather common in the world of college football, Marist head coach Jim Parady had to put this narrative to the extreme in 2018, as he had to start three separate players. Coming into this season fresh off a year that saw so much fluctuation, what is there to know about the quarterback group in 2019?
Let’s start with 2018: The first three games of the season were given to Mike Husni, then a redshirt freshman, who was just getting his collegiate career started. Husni would throw for 621 passing yards, with six touchdowns and three interceptions, while also rushing for 96 yards and two touchdowns. The team, though, went 0-3 in those games.
Parady then rolled with Jacob Hallenbeck, who unlike Husni, had a year of college-playing experience under his belt, having started twice the previous year. Hallenbeck started the three games after Husni’s two, completing only two of the games in full, as well as another game three weeks later. In his time playing, he completed 49 passes in 84 throws (58%) for 730 passing yards, while totaling seven touchdowns and six interceptions. Marist went 2-1 during this stint, trailing 14-0 when he exited the third game.
The rest of the load went to Austin Day, a redshirt freshman at the time. In what was a shock for at least the fans, Day came in and acted as a game-changer. In just five games, for of them starts, he tallied 12 touchdowns and 1,348 passing yards, both of which were team-highs, while completing 56% of his passes. He would also — in just his first start (second game overall) — break the Marist single-game record for passing yards with 440, while also tying the record of five touchdown passes, in an overtime game against Davidson. He helped lead the team from a 14-0 deficit, in his collegiate debut game, to a score of 20-17. Following Day’s first appearance, Marist would finish the season with a 4-2 record (3-2 in games he appeared in).
“It’s really a daily evaluation of the quarterback,” Parady said when discussing last year’s quarterback situation. “You compile all of the data that you have, starting in January, on how they perform.” Parady “ultimately [makes his] evaluation” by considering offseason winter conditioning, spring ball, summer program, preseason camp, and more.
The group this year is somehow both new and rather set-in-stone, a stark contrast to the team’s previous season. This offseason, the aforementioned Husni transferred to Rowan University. Despite the fact that the roster tells you that there are six potential quarterback options, including five that have exceeded redshirt eligibility, it is worth noting that Hallenbeck will not be available this season, as he will be recovering from an injury.
The other player that perhaps levels out the surplus is redshirt Mac Coughlin, a true freshman who is facing a smaller likelihood that he plays unless injuries arise. This leaves us with the remaining four fish in the pond: Day, Luke Strnad, Matt Edwards, and Julian McGarvey.
“It’s really the same room that we had all throughout the offseason,” Parady said. “It’s a good group of guys that have a passion for the game and like to compete. Our meetings are very interactive… it makes it enjoyable to be able to get on the field with them day in and day out.”
After Day’s hot streak in 2018, he was named the starter to begin this season. “Austin went out and he earned the starting job. He had competition from three other guys, but he was able to beat them out,” said Parady. “[He] was a guy that performed well in games last year but, as he knows and we all know, last year is last year. You have to go out and establish yourself this year.”
As for the others, Strnad made his collegiate debut after subbing in for Day in Saturday’s loss to Georgetown. The redshirt sophomore did not see any action in his first two years at Marist, but Parady still likes having him around, describing Strnad as a very player that can “process the offense very well
Edwards a redshirt freshman, out of Mountain View High School in Buford Georgia, is a guy that Parady feels has great upside. “Matt is a real physical talent that is developing his game mentally. He can make throws that are up with any quarterback that we have.”
McGarvey, another redshirt Freshman from Ardsley, N.Y. is the biggest and most athletic of the bunch. As Parady put, “Julian has transformed himself into a guy that is really someone that can compete and play the college level.”
Having your name behind multiple people can certainly be a tough feeling for a quarterback. In Day’s perspective, although he felt that he would’ve started week one if not for an academic suspension, he still felt that his time as a backup was valuable for him as a player. “Learning how to not make mistakes and how to bounce back from things really put my mind in a place where it needed to be. It honestly made me a better player and person overall,” he said.
Day approaches 2019 in hopes to become more of a leader. “It’s really all about just working on my craft and making sure that me and the guys are all in sync. It takes a lot but we’re definitely getting there.” Day also spent this past offseason trying to put on more weight and muscle.
“There’s always pressure,” Day said, regarding being a front-runner of a quarterback competition. Regarding his job security, Day expressed a bit of inner conflict. “I love the guys… we’ve become really close as a group,” he explained. “Having said that, though, there is always competition in football. That’s why it pushes me to be better every day, ‘cause I know there’s still a chance that my spot can be taken.”
Even though Day is still confident in himself, he knows what to be wary of after Parady’s quick trigger last season. Will that approach reappear this season?
“Each situation is very different, Parady explained. “You look at it, and it’s a feel for where we are as an offense. In the end, it’s about getting the ball in the endzone and getting a guy out there that can get us into the endzone. As far as switching quarterbacks, that’s how I make the decision; if I feel that a certain guy is getting us to where we need to get to offensively. If not, and I feel like I have another option, then I’ll go ahead and make the change.”
Edited by Will Bjarnar