The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

April 12, 2014

After a successful season, McDowell continues to improve play, leadership

Jay McDowell walks up to the line of scrimmage and barks out his commands. Then he motions to get a teammate in position before he takes the snap and makes another correct read on the option.

The sequence is by no means extravagant, but it’s a subtle reminder of how McDowell has grown as a leader.

A team captain and all-MIAA honorable mention at quarterback as a sophomore, McDowell (6-foot-2, 190-pound junior) entered Missouri Southern’s Green and Gold spring football scrimmage on Saturday at Fred G. Hughes stadium knowing he’s the Lions starter.

“It definitely gives me more confidence knowing I’m the No. 1 guy,” McDowell said. “It helps build me as a leader and makes me a better leader.”

After playing sparingly as a true freshman in 2012, McDowell entered last year’s preseason as No. 1 on the depth chart but wasn’t officially named MSSU’s starter until days before the Lions’ season opener against Central Oklahoma.

It didn’t take McDowell long to gain a firm hold on the position.

The Covington, La., native recorded one of the best starting debuts for a quarterback in school history by leading the Lions to a 52-38 victory against the Bronchos. McDowell completed 10 of 11 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 121 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries.

McDowell led the Lions a 7-3 record. He completed 49 of 87 passes for 855 yards and five touchdowns with three interceptions, while rushing for 788 yards and nine touchdowns.

Missouri Southern coach Daryl Daye said McDowell has continued to improve during spring drills.

“I thought he had a great spring,” Daye said. “His leadership has gotten so much better. He knows how to make our offense function very well. Our confidence in him has allowed us to get the other quarterbacks a lot of reps, so we can get a true evaluation of them.”

The Lions didn’t use a full game format for Saturday’s scrimmage, but took 60 snaps between the offense and defense without keeping score or a clock.

Missouri Southern used the scrimmage to continue the development of returning starters like McDowell but also to evaluate the Lions’ younger players.

Senior Ty’Quan Hayes (6-1, 210), redshirt freshmen Corey Moss (6-2, 190) and Gabe Sachetta (6-0, 185) all took their turns under center. All three are entering their second season is MSSU’s triple option offense.

“I’m anxious to see the film on them and see their reads,” Daye said. “Ty’Quan, Corey Moss and Gabe Sachetta have had great springs. Second fiddle right now? I couldn’t tell you. We’ll see as we get in to camp this fall. Jay is the starter, and it’s a battle for second place.”

Playing in a physical option offense, Daye said he is confident in his backup options at quarterback if an injury does occur.

“I think Ty’Quan and Corey could both step in right now,” Daye said. “Gabe is still a ways away as far as being young. He’s a freshman and redshirted last year, but he’s coming on as well. Right now if we had to go with either one of them I would be very comfortable that they could come in and make us function very well.”

Missouri Southern will open the 2014 season on Thursday, Sept. 4, at Emporia State, and its first home game will be Sept. 11 against Northwest Missouri State. Emporia State made the playoffs last year, and Northwest Missouri State is the defending NCAA Division II national champion.

“It’s definitely going to make us work even harder knowing we open against those two top teams in our conference,” McDowell said. “It will make us even hungrier. It will make us work even harder over the summer. We have to be ready.”

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