In high school, quarterback Will Coyne did a great job making fans forget his predecessor.
The Sunrise, Fla., native simply wiped out Brian Maughn’s passing records at Western High School in Fort Lauderdale.
Maughn didn’t mind. He was setting new records at Beloit College, throwing to one of the Midwest Conference’s most lethal receiving corps.
Now Maughn is gone and Coyne is following him again, only this time the transition hasn’t been quite what the sophomore hoped for. So whom does the 5-foot-10, 178-pound sophomore turn to for emotional support?
Right, Brian Maughn.
“We’re good friends and our dads are best friends,” Coyne said. “Brian came up for the homecoming game last week. We talk a lot. He tells me not to push things or force the issue. He understands our situations are different. Different systems and different players around us.
“But I didn’t come here to break Brian’s records. I did want to continue to do what he had been doing as far as being successful and winning games. I’m not focused on stats. I just want to win.”
That’s been a problem so far.
Coyne has started since 0-5 Beloit’s second game. He has completed 56.4 percent of his passes (53-94) for 636 yards and his efficiency rating is 101.8 percent. He also has just one touchdown pass — a 44-yarder to Luke Versulien in Saturday’s 48-8 loss to Cornell — while he has thrown seven interceptions.
In the short term, he has been part of the problem. But long term, he’s confident he’ll be part of the solution.
“I basically took a year off because I didn’t get to play last season,” said Coyne, who was No. 3 on the depth chart. “It’s taken some time to get back into it. But I’m starting to feel more comfortable and the offense is really due to break out.”
It’s unfair to compare Coyne’s first season as a starter to Maughn’s.
Maughn stepped into a terrific situation — with a pass-loving offensive coordinator in Ethan Pole and an arsenal to throw to that included current NFL player Derek Carrier and outstanding receivers in Julian Ross, Andrew Christensen and Odin Grina. They were blessed with good hands, good speed and terrific after-catch yardage.
Outside of freshman Versulien, the Bucs’ vertical game seems to have disappeared. The windows Coyne has to put the ball into are much tighter than Maughn generally faced. Recognizing the limitations of the passing game, the Bucs and new coordinator Alex Cook have tried to become more ball-control this season and it’s been rough. They are averaging only 3.1 yards per carry and 121.4 yards rushing per game.
“Sure, it would be awesome to have a Carrier to throw to,” Coyne said. “You throw it in his direction and you pretty much expect he’s going to catch it. But we still have good players and we should be making plays. In Zach (Draus), we have a great running back. It’s frustrating because when we seem to be getting things going then we’ve turned the ball over the past two weeks.
“That’s one of our biggest goals going into this week — minimize the turnovers.”
The Bucs head to Galesburg, Ill., to play Knox College at 1 p.m. Saturday. Both teams are winless.
“We’re putting last week behind us and we’re treating this game like we’re 0-0,” Coyne said. “I think we match up well. I think the offense is looking forward to have a good game. We want to finish strong and build something we can carry into next season.”
• NOTES: The Bucs are averaging just 9.8 points per game while opponents are averaging 30.0. The Bucs have averaged 267.8 yards per game while their foes are averaging 377.0. ...Beloit has turned the ball over 18 times (nine fumbles, nine interceptions) while foes have turned it over 11 (five fumbles, six interceptions). ...Draus is averaging 4.2 yards per carry. He has 295 yards on 71 tries. ...Eddie Boyd leads Beloit in receptions with 14 for 108 yards (7.7). Dillon Hess has caught 13 passes for 215 yards (16.5) and both Versulien and Nathan Brault have caught nine passes apiece. Coyne, Draus and Versulien each have 12 points on two touchdowns apiece to lead the team in scoring. ...Daniel Collins leads the Bucs with 52 tackles (25 solos, 27 assists). Zach Bock has 37 (21-16) and both Antonio Jones (20-9) and Derrell Carter (24-5) have 29 apiece. Alan Ham has 27 (13-14).