NACOGDOCHES, Texas (Press Release) – With just over one week until the season opener, Stephen F. Austin has a key position with no question marks, something which provides a sense of confidence and stability for the Lumberjack coaching staff. SFA's group of quarterbacks returns what many programs across the nation would love to have – a veteran, experienced starter as well as a veteran, experienced backup.
Zach Conque returns for his third season in Nacogdoches, one in which he is healthy and looks to further his standing in the Lumberjack record book. Heading into his senior campaign, he ranks sixth all-time in total completions (426), seventh in career total offense (5,846 yards), eighth in career passing yards (4,666) and ninth in career touchdown passes (31). Conque has already established himself as the top rushing quarterback in program history, and looks to develop his game further under the direction of new offensive coordinator Gary Crowton.
But along with Conque, the Lumberjacks have a veteran and tested backup in Hunter Taylor, one who has proven he can step in if the need arises. Taylor put together his best season in an SFA uniform in 2015, passing for 480 yards and five touchdowns while earning his first career start against McNeese. He also was crucial in helping lead SFA to a come-from-behind win at 21st-ranked Southeastern Louisiana, passing for 214 yards and three touchdowns.
Behind the two seniors are a group of young talent, each of which brings different strengths to the program. Sophomore Ryan Cottingame brings size and a strong arm to the position, putting together a strong fall camp, including throwing for 111 yards at Wednesday's scrimmage. Redshirt freshman Jake Blumrick has also shown improvement in his year in the program, developing a greater understanding of coach Crowton's offensive scheme.
Two true freshmen were also added to the program and have shown significant talent in their first fall camp. Paten Snell and Tyler Ferre' both put together solid performances in SFA's scrimmage Wednesday, combining to complete six of 10 passing attempts for 49 yards.
With the start of Friday afternoon's practice on the SFA practice field, it brought a beginning of the end of the Lumberjacks' fall camp schedule. And the last practice of week three followed a familiar script as the majority of camp – heavy rain as practice started, followed by dark clouds and thunder as SFA ran through the opening periods of special teams and two minute situations.
The 'Jack quarterbacks, along with the rest of the offense, then worked on red zone plays, something which proved to be an Achilles heel for SFA in 2015. Wanting to ensure the arms of the quarterbacks stayed fresh, the Lumberjacks then spent a number of periods working on rushing plays, hoping to set up some breakout plays for the showdown with Texas Tech next Saturday.
Just over the halfway mark of practice, another Geronimo situation presented itself as with the rain already driving down hard, a bright lightning flash sent the 'Jacks inside, bringing an abrupt end to an already weather-altered fall camp.
The final component of SFA's fall camp schedule will take place Saturday morning when the Lumberjacks run through a mock game on the turf at Homer Bryce Stadium. It is a walkthrough, similar to the Lumberjacks' typical Friday practice script, giving returners and newcomers alike a refresher on the timing and logistics associated with a real game.
Once Saturday's walkthrough wraps up, SFA officially enters its regular game week routine, beginning with a practice Sunday night before the players' off day Monday. The preparation then gets even more intense leading up to the 2016 season opener next Saturday, September 3rd in Lubbock when the 'Jacks tangle with Big 12 foe Texas Tech.
2016 STEPHEN F. AUSTIN FALL CAMP SCHEDULE