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Thursday, January 17, 2013
Juco QB comes into focus

By Josh Moyer
NittanyNation

Three-star juco quarterback Tyler Ferguson (Bakersfield, Calif./College of the Sequoais) enrolled early and is one of just two scholarship QBs on Penn State's roster. So, NittanyNation decided to take a closer look at the man who could lead the team this season.

Tyler Ferguson
There aren't many questions about the arm strength of Tyler Ferguson.
Ferguson's team went 4-6. He finished with 2,614 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a 55.6 percent completion rate. He was sacked 30 times.

ESPN's scouts and Ferguson's juco coach, Robert Dougherty, have lauded his athleticism and live arm. But NittanyNation took it one step further by retracing Ferguson's junior college season and speaking to half of the opposing head coaches.

Those coaches shared their impressions of the 6-foot-4, 200-pound prospect. Some pinpointed weaknesses. Others marveled at strengths. Here's a breakdown of those games.

WEEK 1

College of the Sequoias 20, Reedley 14
Opponent's final record: 3-7 (293.5 pass yards, 32.9 points allowed per game)
Stat line: 21-of-42, 154 yards, 0 TDs, 3 interceptions; 2 rushes for minus-3 yards.

Reedley head coach Randy Whited

On how his team was able to neutralize Ferguson: "We got in his face and had quite a few pressures. It was early on and he was just coming out of high school, so we showed him some different pressures, and we forced the ball out of his hand early and he tried to force a couple things -- and that's going to happen when you have a freshman quarterback that's only had about 24 practice opportunities. And, to be honest with you, they didn't agree to exchange film with us so they didn't have much to work off us. So we kind of baited him a little bit, and I think as the year progressed he got better because he certainly didn't average three interceptions a game."

On what Ferguson does well: "We recruited the young man heavily, actually, because we thought he would be a good QB, too. He has a good arm, he could extend plays in his face and he was a big, durable guy. ... I can tell you this, as a freshman quarterback, there's no question that he was going to get better because you learn from those mistakes. At the JC level, we see the greatest improvement between Week 1 and Week 2 because after they experience the speed of the game, they have to learn how to throw guys open instead of waiting for guys to become open. I think that was one of his bigger issues, and the windows weren't as big in college. But he's got a strong arm, he can extend plays with his feet, and I think he has a pretty good football IQ."

WEEK 2

College of the Sequoias 69, West Hills Coalinga 20
Opponent's final record: 3-7 (268.5 pass yards, 40.5 points allowed per game)
Stat line: 28-of-40, 481 yards, 6 TDs, 0 INTs; 3 rushes for minus-9 yards

West Hills Coalinga head coach Cal Tincher

On his overall impressions and Ferguson's improvement from Week 1: "He's a good one. He tore us apart that second week. He's pretty good on his feet; he's not a run-first guy, but he's a pocket guy who can threaten. And I'll tell you what, his learning curve is pretty quick because his first game he played against Reedley, he was good -- but he got a lot better from Game 1 to 2. Just his reads and release, he was right on. I think he's a kid that definitely had an upside to him. He learns fast, and he threw the heck out of the ball. We knew he was good, but we didn't know he was going to be one of the best QBs we faced all year."

On why Ferguson was so effective: "He made good decisions and picked our secondary apart. Our secondary is pretty average, so he knew how to exploit that. I was impressed by him. ... He was just commanding at the line of scrimmage on reads. He's a good one."

WEEK 4

College of the Sequoias 37, Foothill 14
Opponent's final record: 3-7 (180.7 pass yards, 34.3 points allowed per game)
Stat line: 26-of-38, 182 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT; 2 rushes for 6 yards

Foothill head coach Kelly Edwards

On Ferguson's strengths: "He was a kid we knew was going to be athletic and had a good arm, and he did a lot of good things and made some plays and kept plays alive. He was a good athlete, that's for sure. ... His scramble ability -- we brought heat a lot of times, and he was able to escape it. I'm not saying he's a 4.3 guy or anything like that, but he had good pocket presence and got away from people when he had to."

On what stood out about Ferguson and what he needs to work on: "I think he's a good quarterback and when you said, 'Penn State,' I said wow. Again, I only saw him one time live so it's unfair for me to judge him that respect. He didn't totally stand out, but you could tell he commanded the huddle really well and they respected him in the huddle. He was a good leader, I noticed that. ... But I think he could've thrown the ball a little bit sooner. One time he threw a pick, he threw it late and allowed our safety to move over. Again, this is based off just one football game. ... I think at the next level, he'll have to throw the ball a little earlier, especially at Penn State."

WEEK 6

Modesto 47, College of the Sequoias 43
Opponent's final record: 4-6 (264.4 passing yards, 42.4 points allowed per game)
Stat line: 26-of-45, 354 yards, 4 TDs, 0 INTs; 11 rushes for minus-34 yards

Tyler Ferguson
Tyler Ferguson might need to add some bulk to his frame for the BCS level.
Modesto head coach Sam Young

On what made Ferguson so effective: "Obviously, Tyler was making all the right decisions early in the game. He was very mobile and throws well on the run, and we really didn't have an answer that night. We just had the opportunity to get the last stop in the game and win it. ... He's a gunslinger type, extends the play and has a tendency to make the play even after the play breaks down. We did pressure him well at times and got some sacks, and I thought we schemed him pretty good. They ran the ball exceptionally well, better than we thought they would early in the game, and that put us back on our heels."

On what Ferguson needs to improve on at the next level: "Well, I only saw him that one time and what I saw on film when we prepared for him, but I think that just in terms of physicality at that level, he seems fairly slender. He may have to bulk up a bit to take the pounding at that level. But, I'll tell you what: He's hard to get a hold of, and I really didn't see any glaring things that needed to be done."

WEEK 9

American River 31, College of the Sequoias 27

Opponent's final record: 8-3 (248.3 passing yards, 28.9 points allowed per game)
Stat line: 19-of-35, 330 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT; 6 rushes for minus-52 yards

American River head coach Gerald Haflich

On Ferguson's fast start and his overall success: "They got 20 points right off the bat. He beat a corner on a post route in a man-coverage scheme, we had a safety bite and he can complete those deep passes -- so he got those bad boys. They didn't have their big-name running back in the first quarter, so they leaned on Ferguson. He was a heckuva quarterback. When we did get pressure later in the game, I thought he responded well. ... I watched every game he played prior to our game, and he's easily one of the top quarterbacks we had to face. He's just an exciting guy with a big arm, always looking downfield and always looking at the next guy. He didn't panic often, and he can sling it around. I told him after the game that I was glad we didn't have to play him again."

On how they were able to limit Ferguson in the second half: "Well, I think with every young quarterback, it's just the faith in that group up front. I thought he had a couple offensive linemen that were very solid but anytime pressure's coming, a young quarterback's eyes tend to drop a little bit and they take their eyes off of downfield, where they need to be. That didn't happen until later in this case, and I thought we got to him a little bit because they had trouble running the football. And whether you're Joe Namath or another great one, any defensive can really get after you if they're capable. So I think his maturity and some of the games they unfortunately lost may be the biggest benefit to him as an individual."