No more shuffling, Amer ready to deal

Towson QB who split time in '01, now has job, control

College Football

August 23, 2002|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

Towson University football coach Gordy Combs does not like to rotate his quarterbacks.

"I don't think you ever want to do that at that position," he said. "Usually, you like to go with whoever has a hot hand."

But last season was an abnormal one for the Tigers, and Combs found himself juggling personnel at a number of spots - largely because of injuries at most - in an effort to find a winning combination.

The quarterbacking was almost equally divided between Val Troiani and Jay Amer, and neither could find adequate assistance as the Tigers struggled to a 3-7 record.

Time has solved the dilemma. Troiani is now a Towson assistant coach, and Amer, a sophomore by eligibility, stands alone behind the center.

"I think there will be a lot less pressure now," said Amer, a muscular 6-foot-1, 218-pound resident of Pennsauken, N.J. "Last year, I was playing scared a little because it was such a seesaw battle. You were afraid to make a mistake. Now the job is mine to lose."

Amer believes that changing quarterbacks "affects the whole team, including the defense. Nobody ever got settled. But I had a great spring and now I can't wait to get started. I'm a lot more confident."

Towson was aching for more points a year ago, scoring just 147 in 10 games. And it was the lack of a supporting cast that was the main culprit.

Its best wide receiver, Jamal White, an All-American the previous season as a sophomore, went down before the opener. The offensive line was decimated by injuries. By his standards, running back Noah Read had a so-so season.

"Last year was just a mess," Amer said. "I couldn't even describe it. It's just something you want to forget."

Still, he found enough openings to complete 75 of 159 passes for 1,020 yards and three touchdowns.

White has returned, the line is reconstructed and the runners are promising, so Amer should have a full complement of helpers this time.

And the upside of 2001 is that a number of young players received valuable experience, making them more capable now.

"Both our quarterbacks were playing behind a lot of inexperience," Combs said. "We had more sacks than we had in the previous two years combined. But Jay got his feet wet, and I believe he is the type who gets better with more repetitions.

"He threw in run-and-shoot in high school and produced a lot of passing yardage and points. He can throw all the passes - short, intermediate and long - and has the ability to be as good as any quarterback we've ever had here. It's his job."

The rotation is over and Amer has a complementary cast. It's all in his hands now.

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