QB Roberts impresses in SCSU spring game
NEW HAVEN — Chris Roberts reinforced his position as the No. 1 quarterback at Southern Connecticut State Saturday, but standing on the sideline at the Owls’ annual spring football scrimmage was perhaps the most prolific quarterback in the school’s history — with another year of eligibility.
Steve Armstrong, a 2007 Harlon Hill Award finalist (Division II’s Heisman) and magazine All-American who broke his leg in the second game of the 2008 season, is mentally a go for the 2009 season ... but still a physical maybe.
He stepped out of the proverbial pocket when asked if he planned on playing this season, eluding the question with ifs, ands and buts.
So, OK, if we put a gun to his head, will he, or won’t he return for an NCAA-cleared sixth year?
“If there’s a gun to my head, I’d have to take the bullet,” Armstrong said with a glib touch.
“It’s a big decision,” continued Armstrong, who holds career
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school records for passing yardage (8,148 yards) and touchdowns (68); single-season records for passing years (3,280), touchdowns (31), and completion percentage (65.7); and single-game records for passing yards (436), touchdowns (6) and completions (28). “I’m still wavering. Academically for me, I’m pretty much done with school, so it’s just a matter of whether I want to come back for another semester. I definitely have the itch to play. Being on the sideline ... I’m not a sideline guy. I definitely want to be out there playing.”
Armstrong is working out daily and throwing regularly, but he does not yet have medical clearance to play. And at this point, it’s not an absolute that he will. He said he hopes to have a decision by the end of the month,
“No decision has been made yet,” said Southern coach Rich Cavanaugh, who is looking to take the Owls to a fifth-straight NCAA postseason appearance this fall. “If he comes back, we’ll have to see how he is. I’ve dealt with these situations before, where it’s easier said than done. It’s not quite that easy to jump back in the saddle sometimes.”
But Roberts, too valuable to keep off the field, showed once again that the program remains in solid hands at quarterback, completing nine of 13 passes for 137 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. Kevin Lynch had a very strong spring and could press Roberts for the starting job, though he didn’t have a particularly strong spring game (6-of-11, 61 yards).
Another offensive weapon and X-factor for Southern could be Rashaad Slowley, a true freshman last fall who appears to be the next in a line of standout tailbacks at SCSU. The question is when.
Slowley had 20 carries for 109 yards Saturday, but he plays behind two standouts — Jarom Freeman and John Wiechman, who combined for 1,855 yards and 20 touchdowns in 2008.
“One of the good things about our kids is that Jarom and John Wiechman are very good players, but they don’t let their ego get in the way,” Cavanaugh said. “So if Rashaad started to get some time in the rotation, no one’s going to have an attitude about it.”
Slowley, an all-state running back at Archbishop Stepinac (N.Y.), admits that playing third string takes some adjustment. “But hopefully I’m in the rotation. I think I’ve shown Coach that I’m a playmaker and that they can count on me when I’m asked to play.”
On the defensive side, Cavanaugh was almost gushing over the spring performance of his bookend outside linebackers, Landon Osborn, out of Wilbur Cross, and Andrew Pratt from Lyman Hall.
“They’re just physical, fast players who make plays,” Cavanaugh said. “They’re tough, run to the ball, and hit you. All those qualities probably make me a pretty good coach.”
Cavanaugh also talked about opening the season Aug. 28 at home against Indiana University of Pennsylvania, a powerhouse in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference, a league that has personally given the Owls some headaches in the postseason.
“Honestly, I think our program’s at a point where we need to play those guys,” Cavanaugh said. “We need to play some good people early and find out where you’re at. IUP is certainly an excellent program. And the next week we go to Bryant, so we certainly have a lot on our plate.”
Whether Armstrong, the ECAC Division II player of the year in 2007, will be the one leading the team at quarterback by that point, remains to be seen. Not even a bullet can pry that answer loose.