Whenever Chris Creighton has two quarterbacks on his roster that he thinks are good enough to see the field, then two quarterbacks are simply going to see the field. That was the deal in 2015 when Eastern Michigan had both Brogan Roback and Reggie Bell. That was the deal in 2018 when EMU had both Tyler Wiegers and Mike Glass. And that’s the deal now with both Preston Hutchinson and Ben Bryant.
In last night’s season-opening win over Saint Francis (35-15), EMU’s two quarterbacks totaled for 189 passing yards, completed 15 of 22 passes, picked off once, and neither QB scored.
On the first drive of the game, Hutchinson’s first deep pass attempt to Dylan Summers (new transfer from Cornell) was intercepted right before the goal line. Later on in the half, Hutchinson floated up a 28-yarder to Summers, and stepped out of bounds at the 2-yard line.
The stat sheet read that Bryant’s came through with a long pass of 44 yards in the first quarter, but that was a shovel-sweep to Hassan Beydoun, who used his speed and agility to get all those yards. But when it came time for Bryant to float one up to Dylan Drummond: the two connected for a 33-yard play and got the Eagles inside the red zone from the Saint Francis 45.
Drummond was targeted six times on the night with three throws from both quarterbacks. On top of the 33-yard catch, Drummond caught a 15-yarder from Bryant, and had one more passes from him broken up. From Hutchinson, Drummond caught one pass for four yards. One incompletion was because of good pressure from the SFU D-line, and another was broken up.
For as much as EMU likes its offensive line group, and even with the comfortable win, there still felt like there was a little bit too much pressure allowed on the quarterbacks. SFU’s defense recorded nine tackles for loss, two sacks and two quarterback hurries. Three defensive backs recorded pass breakups, so lots of guys came ready to play for the Red Flash defense.
Both of the sacks allowed by EMU came against Bryant, the quarterback whose skillsets would thrive in an offense that let receivers work downfield and make plays vertically. His throws simply have more mustard on them than what Hutchinson throws. Bryant’s not afraid to stand in the pocket and trust his new linemen which is a plus, but he’s not exactly a dual-threat. There were times where Bryant showed he’s not afraid to be a physical runner if he absolutely has to make a play without a pocket.
Hutchinson’s probably more likely to make a play without a pocket than Bryant is. People might not know this so make sure you tell a friend after you read this: Hutchinson was second in the MAC last year in rushing touchdowns with eight. He averaged only 2.2 yards per carry, and that’s just not good enough to bank on in this year’s 12-game slate. Hutchinson’s come through with deep, dramatic TD passes (sometimes game-winners) that usually have a lot more touch to them. But when things collapse at the line of scrimmage and there’s room to run, Hutchinson’s more likely to use his speed and try to make a positive play out of the bad situation.
After the game, Creighton said: “At quarterback, it feels that we’ve got two really good ones and we’ll continue to give them game reps and let it flush itself out.”
I don’t think there’s a quarterback battle here. I simply think there’s a need for both.