Do the Aggies have a QB battle on their hands?
In short, not really.
Arkansas State transfer QB Logan Bonner followed Blake Anderson to Logan, UT. To echo what Jeremy Mauss recently mentioned in the MW Wire USU football preview podcast, a player is most likely not going to move across country and upend their life just to sit on the bench. Though Bonner has been sitting out this past Spring due to an injury, he has a solid track record from when he was a starter for the Red Wolves. He has plenty of game experience and a few big wins under his belt, such as when he led the Red Wolves to an upset over Kansas State in Manhattan last season. That body of work alone will likely get him the starting nod when the Aggies take the field against Washington State in September.
However, is it possible Aggie QB Andrew Peasley could wrestle away the starting job for himself? It’s a genuine possibility and one Aggie fans should welcome. It’s reasonable to believe the best player is going to win the starting job and Peasley got himself a nice head start from the 2020 season, even if the season itself was not in almost any way good for USU.
Bonner at a Glance
Logan Bonner will be playing for the Aggies this season as a Graduate transfer. He has two years left to play two seasons. If he can stay healthy, he’s the likely starting QB moving forward.
While at Arkansas State, Bonner redshirted his freshman season and then continued to get more playing time as he matured in the program. In his junior season with the Red Wolves, still being coached by Blake Anderson, Bonner amassed 1,863 yards passing and 18 touchdowns to six interceptions. On the ground, the signal caller added 25 net yards on 34 attempts through the 11 games played.
He’s a pocket passer through and through and has a quick release, which will serve him well with USU’s fortified and speedy receiving corps. He can pinpoint the ball fast to his desired target. Along with the Aggies’ strong group of running backs, it’s not a particular worry that Bonner is a non-factor in rushing.
The only concern that should have Aggie fans worried is his injury history. Last year he was able to stay healthy at Arkansas State, but his sophomore season was cut short after just four games after sustaining a season-ending injury. This past spring, he was sidelined again due to injury, so he didn’t participate in Spring ball.
USU has had plenty of bad luck in the past with QB injuries and breaking in a new offensive system behind a questionable offensive line doesn’t help ease minds. Bonner will need to rely on his quick release and make good decisions with his reads to stay upright.
Peasley at a Glance
As bad as the 2020 season was for USU, Peasley managed to at least temporarily take our minds off that fact. Against New Mexico, the then-sophomore QB went off against a hapless Lobos team. He threw the football for 239 yards and three touchdowns and he had an extremely memorable 62-yard scamper for a score on the ground as well. New Mexico may not have been a good team, but it was still a strong performance in a year where the Aggies were getting virtually no meaningful production at the QB position. He generally made good decisions and he seemed to be very in synch with the receivers.
Against Air Force in the next game, Peasley decidedly looked a lot more pedestrian. Peasley only completed 17 passes for 123 yards and he threw two picks. He looked rattled much of the night and he wasn’t able to produce any spark for the team. The running game couldn’t get going for the Aggies, outside of a great opening drive, so the pressure was on the signal-caller even more and his youth showed in a demoralizing loss.
The good news for Andrew Peasley is that he had Spring ball and got most of the QB reps. Had Bonner not been injured, it would have likely resulted in split reps and given Bonner a clear edge in the position battle heading into Summer and Fall camps. With Peasley learning the new offensive system under Anderson, this extra experience will only help him develop faster and be a viable option at the position for USU.
It’s a situation that is not dissimilar to what USU had in 2014: Chuckie Keeton was rehabbing from injury, so backup Darell Garretson made the most of his opportunity and got the reps with the other starters for all of Spring and Summer. When push came to shove, Garretson was more than ready to take over for Keeton after Keeton re-injured his knee a few games into the 2014 season.
Even if Peasley doesn’t win the QB job outright, he’ll be in a great spot and should have plenty of confidence should he ever need to take over for a temporary or extended spell for Bonner.
Though the job is certainly Bonner’s to lose considering his overall body of work, Peasley could easily make a run at being starter with his newfound experience. Either way, Aggie fans can rest assured there will be significantly better production at the QB spot than last year. Either of these players should be able to develop good chemistry with this robust group of receivers. With a full season coming underway that most likely won’t have practices cut short or cancelled altogether like in the 2020 season, both these quarterbacks will have time to prove their mettle and lay claim to the starting job.
May the best quarterback win!