Tyler Cameron had a difficult spring. Presumed by many to step into the starting quarterback role following Tanner Price's departure last year, the redshirt sophomore went 9-of-26 for 83 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the Gold vs. Black spring game.
Cameron's teammate, quarterback-turned-running-back-turned-quarterback Kevin Sousa, outperformed him on the stat sheet with 178 yards on 16-of-32 passing and 50 yards on the ground.
Not to mention, head coach Dave Clawson remains set on giving two highly touted freshmen, Travis Smith and John Wolford, a shot at the job this fall.
"The quarterback position is fluid. We'll make a decision before fall camp or before the first game. We told the freshmen that we recruited that we would give them a chance to compete, and we're certainly going to give them that chance," Coach Clawson stated, according to Currie McFayden of WakeForestSports.com.
So things are looking pretty bleak for Cameron right? In the words of Lee Corso, not so fast my friend!
Cameron will develop into one of the conference's most efficient passers because every snap of fall practice will be pressure packed, the Deacs start off 2014 with arguably the easiest nonconference schedule in the ACC and Clawson is a mastermind at maximizing strengths and minimizing weaknesses for inexperienced quarterbacks.
Stiff competition for the starting job may be the greatest benefit of all to Cameron. He remains the "veteran" of the group due to his 24 pass attempts last season compared to Sousa, who played running back and receiver, and the two freshmen have yet to enroll. If Cameron can capitalize on the competition and improve in the weeks leading up to the season, he'll enter the season confident having earned his spot as the team's offensive leader.
Should that happen, the dual-threat quarterback will be in a perfect position to exceed expectations by playing to his own strengths in a relatively simple offensive scheme as he grows against weaker opposition leading up to the ACC opener at Louisville on Sept. 28.
That in-game learning experience will begin on Aug. 28, though, against UL Monroe, a team that beat Wake, 21-19, at BB&T Field last season. This time, the Warhawks will be without their leader and four-year starting quarterback, Kolton Browning.
Like the Demon Deacons, ULM also lost its leading rusher and second leading receiver from last year's squad. The first game of the season will go to the team that can shake the opening day nerves and minimize mistakes.
|Aug. 28||@ULM||Oct. 18||Syracuse|
|Sept. 6||Gardner-Webb||Oct. 25||Boston College|
|Sept. 13||@Utah State||Nov. 6||Clemson|
|Sept. 20||Army||Nov. 15||@North Carolina|
|Sept. 27||@Louisville||Nov. 22||Virginia Tech|
|Oct. 4||@Florida State||Nov. 29||@Duke|
The following week, the Deacs will take on FCS Gardner-Webb at home followed by dates with Utah State and an Army team that won only three games last year. Though Utah State figures to be a contender in the Mountain West Conference, The Deacs could very well be favored in each of its first four bouts.
That means Cameron will have ample time to adjust to a new coach and offense, as well as ample opportunity to flourish as an efficient passer instead of an inexperienced risk-taker.
Managing the growth and emergence of the starting quarterback will be one of Coach Clawson's top priorities this season—and maybe his most crucial in determining the success of his first year. Good thing he had a similar situation and priority last year and led that Bowling Green team to a MAC title.
The Falcons' first-year starter, Matt Johnson, threw for 3,467 yards and 25 touchdowns while leading the MAC with a 161.7 passer rating. If Clawson can guide Cameron to a similar season, the Deacs will be just fine under center, not to mention competitive in every game this year.