San Diego State is already thin at quarterback with Christian Chapman being limited in spring practice as he recovers from thumb surgery. The only other quarterback on the roster is sophomore Ryan Agnew and punter Neil Boudreau moving to quarterback to help out in spring.
Chapman may not be further along in his recover as he participated off to the side and threw 40 passes during the first day of spring practice. There was no contact involved with a center to quarterback exchange, but still encouraging that he was able to get some work accomplished.
“They looked at his hand and his hand looked really good,” head coach Roacky Long said via the San Diego Union-Tribune. “The big question is how is it going to feel tomorrow? ... As long as his hand holds out, they’re going to let him throw all spring.”
That is definitely good news to see Chapman able to throw off to the side and able to work out a bit. However, it is highly unlikely he will participate in any contact drills at all and that means Agnew will get the first-team reps all spring.
“Right now Christian is our starter, but with all the reps Ryan’s going to get, who knows how good he’s going to get?” Long said. “If he plays really well in the spring, it would create a competition.”
Agnew as a backup must use these precious reps to prove that he is capable to be an FBS starting quarterback.
“If you don’t come at it with the mindset that it’s an open job, then you’re not going to get better,” Agnew said after Day 1. “So I have to look at it like it’s an open job, come out here, compete every day and get myself better, which is going to make (Chapman) better, which, overall, is going to make the team better.”
Is Long just teasing everyone that there might be a quarterback battle in spring? The Aztecs recently signed former Rutgers quarterback Chris Laviano who is a graduate transfer and eligible right away, so will he be in the mix.
To be honest, Chapman was not an amazing quarterback or one of the best in the Mountain West. So it could be argued that a change could be made, but Chapman did what was asked of him and a lot of that was not throwing the ball but handing off to the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher in Donnel Pumphrey.
Chapman is an accurate passer and completed 61 percent of his passes and was third in the Mountain West in touchdowns with 20 and has only six interceptions which was second to any passer who had at least 200 attempts — the other was Colorado State’s Nick Stevens who had five interceptions.
Chapman was just not asked to do a lot in the air and that makes a lot of sense with who lined up behind him. The Aztecs will have another solid back behind him this year in Rashaad Penny and he had over 1,000 yards last year, so the offense could be much more of the same with the play-calling leaning more toward running than passing.
Perhaps Long is just posturing to give Agnew some confidence that he can start next year, and thus help the team get better this spring with a new starting running back and a few new offensive line.
Come opening day, it’d be a shock to see anyone other than Chapman under center.