(Rick Hickman/American Press)
Last Modified: Sunday, August 10, 2014 10:54 AM
This summer Tyler Bolfing was given a test tougher than any handed out in school.
It was more of a pop quiz, really. Quarterback Daniel Sams decided he wanted to remain a quarterback after an attempted position switch to wide receiver during spring practices at Kansas State. And when he decided McNeese was the best destination to achieve that goal, Bolfing was presented with a question.
Would the Cowboys’ presumptive starter at the end of this spring be a competitor or a complainer?
Bolfing has taken the first path, and in doing so promises to create enough of a challenge in August that Sams must indeed take the job rather than have it handed to him.
“Competition makes everybody better,” Bolfing said. “Coach V called me in right away when he knew Daniel was coming in. I was excited. He seems great from what I’ve gotten to know of him so far. Competition is going to make this team better, and wins is all that matters.”
That is precisely the reaction head coach Matt Viator expected.
“There’s only one way to take it, and I knew he would take it that way,” Viator said. “That’s the kind of young man he is. The kids understand it’s about competing. Tyler, Daniel, Will (Briscoe), Grant (Ashcraft) — they understand it’s about competing every day.”
Though Bolfing and Sams are in competition for the starting spot, Viator’s personal history indicates both will see playing time.
Bolfing played a possession a game behind Cody Stroud most of last season. In 2011, the Cowboys were injecting fairly equal doses of the scrambling Riley Dodge and drop-back Stroud before Dodge suffered a career-ending concussion against Southeastern Louisiana.
The Sams/Bolfing dynamic is similar to Dodge and Stroud — a mobile Football Bowl Subdivision transfer comes in to challenge the sure-armed career Cowboy.
“I feel like it can definitely be very similar to when Riley came in,” said Bolfing, who redshirted that season. “Obviously I want to take 100 percent of the snaps. But if we end up thinking that’s what’s going to help us win games, then I’m going to be in full support of that.”
The question camp will answer is who gets the majority of snaps.
It won’t be answered until the offense has been fully installed and someone makes a clear move to the top. There wasn’t much opportunity for Sams to do that in the dialed-down first practice of the season, but for one play.
It was a broken play, the kind that looked destined for the coach’s whistle to blow early to stop wasting everyone’s time.
Sams was on an island with no blockers, rolling out to his right as three defenders converged on him close to the line of scrimmage. Then out of nowhere, he delivered a shot-put style throw to receiver Brian Walker, who was open in the flat.
It may have taken a replay review to make sure Sams was completely behind the line when he delivered the improvised throw, but it provided a glimpse into his skills that dropping back behind five barrels does not.
“The play could look dead one minute,” Sams said. “and as long as I’ve got these two feet, I’ll try to make something happen.”
The competition is on. And fortunately for McNeese, it appears the guys involved are going to have as much fun with it as those watching.