Thursday, September 9, 2010

Stephens out, Doyle in for Tarleton

Texans visit Central Oklahoma without starting QB
Sports Editor

Redshirt freshman quarterback Aaron Doyle has said all along he just wants to help the team any way he can.

He'll certainly get his chance Saturday when he starts at quarterback for Tarleton State (0-1) against Central Oklahoma (0-1).

Doyle is replacing Nick Stephens, a highly-touted transfer from Tennessee who suffered a shoulder injury on a blind-side sack during the fourth quarter of Tarleton's season-opening loss to Northeastern State last week. He was 19-40 passing for 255 yards and two touchdowns.

Tarleton head coach Cary Fowler says Stephens will also miss next week's game at Division I-FCS Northwestern State, but that he may be back for the Lone Star Conference South Division opener at Abilene Christian Sept. 25.

Doyle, who was once recruited as a linebacker and athlete by Oklahoma State and Baylor among others, stepped in for Stephens and almost immediately fired a 60-yard touchdown pass that was part of receiver Jeken Frye's big night.

Doyle finished 3-7 for 73 yards through the air with a critical drop by receiver Arthur Buckingham on fourth down with 1:39 left.

A prep star at nearby Class A Evant, Doyle was slated to start on all special teams and contribute in other ways as atrue freshman last fall. But he broke his hand before the season opener and red-shirted.

"We have a lot of confidence in Aaron," Fowler said. "Before Nick came here Aaron was going to be our quarterback. He's a great athlete and a great competitor. He's going to start the game and he's going to have his offense and I think he's going to do well.

"We're not married to our system, we're married to our players," Fowler continued. "We're going to do what's best with the personnel we have."

For Doyle that likely means opportunities to make plays with his feet. He reportedly clocked a 4.46 in the 40 during the spring, and intra-squad scrimmages have routinely been highlighted by impressive Doyle scrambles.

"Aaron was one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the state of Texas when he came here," Fowler said. "I'm excited to see him play."

Fowler is also excited for both his team and staff to show what it learned from last week's stunning 31-23 loss to Northeastern.

"We're learning from our mistakes across the board from me on down," Fowler said. "It's not so much about the mistakes as how you handle them. We're going to be aggressive in our play calling and our guys are going to be aggressive on the field. When you're aggressive you make mistakes sometimes, but it's all about overcoming them."

In addition to Doyle at quarterback, Fowler says the game plan will also include more from true freshman running backs Jerome Regal and Brandon Lowery.

"We have to find ways to get the ball in (Lowery's) hands," Fowler said. "He's too talented not to help us."

Fowler says Lowery, a prep track standout who ran the 100m in 10.3 seconds, will be deep on kickoff returnsalongside Evan Robertson Saturday.

The first-year head coach says the Texans have responded well after last week's loss, their first in a season opener since 2006.

"The kids bounced back fast," he said. "We were out in the pouring down rain the other day, then we were out when it was beautiful (Wednesday). We had a good tempo both days."

Central Oklahoma opened its season with a 31-20 loss to Pittsburg State Aug. 28 and was idle last week.

"They're physical, they have good athletes and good speed and they're well coached," Fowler said. "They have a goodfootball team and it's going to be a challenge. Every week in this league is going to be a challenge."

The Bronchos, who out-gained Pitt State in total offense and held a 20-17 lead early in the fourth quarter, went 4-7 last fall, their first season under head coach Tracy Holland.

Tarleton used a big second half to beat UCO 35-17 last year. The Bronchos still lead the series 5-4.

Kickoff Saturday is slated for 6 p.m.

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