It’s time to bring out the leash

I do not think there is any question that red-shirt sophomore quarterback Brandon Large should be on a short leash this week.

He has passed for 144 yards in two games and thrown two interceptions? That is not what I’d call productive.

Saturday, against Central Arkansas, Large was as shaky as a leaning tower of Jenga.

Either he or the ball was on the ground at all times. Large was sacked six times. In other instances, he avoided a sack, but fumbled the football.

After the game, all the coaches agreed – he needs to be more secure with the football.

Yeah. You could have heard that rumbling through the press box during the game.

One of the problems was that he was holding onto the ball far too long. Granted, the offensive line was deteriorated, but quarterbacks are taught to get out of the pocket and throw the ball away if they are in trouble.

Large was unable to do. The Central Arkansas defensive line formed a circle of bullies around the helpless quarterback Saturday. There was nothing he could do but take a beating.

He passed for 52 yards and threw two interceptions against Central Arkansas.

Throughout the game, he showed very little signs that he was improving. The question was: when is he going to get taken out?

I waited and waited and it never happened. But this week I found out that the same question I was asking myself was buzzing around the offensive coaches on the sideline.

Offensive coordinator Roy Wittke was considering taking Large out of the game.

Give him a break; he has taken a big enough beating.

At halftime, Large was 5-for-10 through the air for 31 yards. He had one touchdown, but one interception to cancel it out.

In the third quarter, Wittke said he seriously considered taking him out.

Correct me if I am wrong, but I would guess that the option presented itself on the first drive of the second half. Three plays into the half, Large fumbled the football.

Take him out! They did not. But later in the quarter, he fumbled again.

I suppose the two sub-questions Wittke asked himself made all of the difference.

1. Has the No. 2 quarterback prepared himself well enough in practice to play against this team?

I do not know the answer to this question, so I cannot comment.

2. At what point do we give Large a chance to prove himself?

I suppose this answer would be the third quarter. At halftime the score was 20-7, despite four Eastern turnovers. So, the Panthers had a chance to come back.

At this point, Wittke is right, Large had a chance to prove himself.

But after the two fumbles out of his hands, I would argue that it was time to put him on the bench and give somebody else a chance.

Red-shirt sophomore Shadonta Travis was listed as No. 2 on the quarterback depth chart. As A mobile guy, I think he would have done well.

But I did not get to see him.

At least, Central Arkansas’ mobile quarterback did well against the Eastern defense. UCA red-shirt freshman quarterback Wynric Smothers “smothered” Eastern, if you will.

Not only was Smothers 7-for-7 through the air, he ran for 76 yards and two touchdowns. On average, he had nearly 13 yards per carry.

From what Smothers was doing, I was disappointed not to see Travis. Maybe the slightest change of face on offense could’ve done something for the Eastern offense.

But Travis, and the other quarterbacks on the roster, didn’t get a chance to play.

This could be a message to Large. The Eastern offensive coaching staff could be saying, “You’re 100 percent our guy.”

Sure, that could be true.

But now that Eastern is in the first weekend of conference play, I would keep Large on a short leash.

If he shows no signs of improvement early Saturday against Tennessee Martin, Wittke should have no choice.

Eastern can’t afford to start 0-3 this season. If that means pulling a guy from the game, who you said you have confidence in, then it’s necessary.

Alex McNamee can be reached

at 581-7944 or

[email protected]