Quarterbacks coach Mike Sanford classified, Matt Pelesasa, a junior-college-transfer quarterback, as a “winner.” After all, Sanford said, that’s what the 6-1, 235-pound quarterback has done his whole career.
Even though Pelesasa has had just six practices to make his mark at Western this spring, he’s already on his way to continue his winning ways.
Sanford said an injury to incumbent quarterback Kawaun Jakes over the weekend and a very productive showing in practice this week by Pelesasa have the JUCO transfer set as the favorite to win Western’s starting quarterback battle.
“Today was his opportunity to determine a legacy of his, and he did that,” Sanford said Tuesday. “Right now he is our best guy, and he was out there able and ready to perform.”
Pelesasa benefited from junior Tyler Bruce and redshirt freshman Courtney Dalcourt missing practice Tuesday because of class and a knee injury, respectively. Sanford estimated that the junior took 70 snaps in that practice.
Taggart said he was pleased with how Pelesasa responded and took advantage of the opportunity.
“We talked about competing from day one,” Taggart said. “Matt showed us today a guy that has studied film and worked on getting better.”
As for Jakes, who recently suffered a sprained ankle in a pick-up basketball game, Taggart called the injury “unacceptable.”
“He’s a quarterback on this football team that’s learning a new offense,” Taggart said. “The time that was spent over there playing basketball he could have spent learning the offense. I told him that there’s no one individual bigger than the team, and it’s very selfish to go out and do things like that and hurt the team.”
Jakes, as with all players this spring, was not available for comment.
Taggart said it’s still uncertain how long Jakes will be out, adding that he’s “not even concerned with that.”
“I’m concerned with the guys that are going to be out there to help us win ball games,” he said. “Guys can’t win a job on the sideline.”
Defensive coordinator Clint Bowen said players can’t afford to miss spring practices because of how important they are for position battles.
Last week Taggart said the defense was getting the best of the offense, but it was a different story this week with Pelesasa under center. Sanford said the offense seemed to mesh better with only one quarterback taking the snaps instead of the regular three.
Taggart said after watching Pelesasa in practice, he noticed that he has the ability to play at the Division I level and run the offense efficiently.
Although Pelesasa appears to be the Toppers’ No. 1 quarterback right now, he’ll have to compete again in the fall when freshman quarterback Brandon Doughty arrives at Western.
Western has its first official scrimmage of the spring at 9:10 a.m. Saturday at Smith Stadium. The entire scrimmage will be open to the public.