Jamal Londry-Jackson says he’s healthy, focused and motivated. He also has to be frustrated and perhaps a bit perplexed.
He isn’t the only one a little confused by Appalachian State’s quarterback situation.
Londry-Jackson, a senior, entered the season with 19 career starts and several school passing records on his resume. His 2012 season was one of the best in school history (268 of 406, 3,278 yards, 21 touchdowns) even though he played with an injured knee from late October on, and he was named first-team All-Southern Conference.
Despite all that, he isn’t the cornerstone of the Mountaineers’ offense during his senior season. Instead, he’s splitting time with Kameron Bryant, a talented sophomore and likely leader for the future.
“It is what it is,” Londry-Jackson said last Saturday after Appalachian’s 31-21 win at Elon. “You’ve got to stand behind the coach and do what you’ve got to do.”
He’ll compete with Bryant in practice to see who will start Saturday against Charleston Southern, and Coach Scott Satterfield said Tuesday that naming the starter will be a game-time decision.
Londry-Jackson is partly responsible for his situation. In Appalachian’s first two games, both losses, he was a combined 24 of 41 for 209 yards, with one touchdown pass and two interceptions.
Those struggles led Satterfield to turn to Bryant, who responded by outplaying Londry-Jackson.
“They both have their strengths, and we’ve talked about that the last two weeks,” Satterfield said. “They’ve gotten an equal number of reps. They’re both unselfish players. The team is most important, and whoever gives us the best chance to win the game is who we’re going with. We’re going to have to use both of those guys to try to win in the future.”
The plan worked perfectly against the Phoenix.
Londry-Jackson was efficient as Appalachian took a 10-0 lead before giving way to Bryant early in the second quarter. Bryant delivered, throwing touchdown passes of 73 and 41 yards to help push the lead to 24-0.
The two alternated for the rest of the game – a predetermined strategy based not on snap counts or possessions but, Satterfield said, “on the flow of the game.” Satterfield said the two equally split practice snaps so they’re sharp when they enter a game with little or no warning.
“It’s what we’ve got to do, it’s where we’re at right now,” senior receiver Andrew Peacock said. “We trust Coach Satt, we trust our coaching staff, and we trust whoever’s back there at quarterback. That’s just how we roll.”
The two were nearly dead even statistically –– Londry-Jackson was 16 for 21 for 205 yards and a touchdown; Bryant was 9 for 12 for 199 yards and the two long scores; neither committed a turnover. The rotation will continue this weekend and possibly longer.
There are signs Londry-Jackson could seize a tighter grip on a position he once owned.
He showed no lingering effects Saturday of offseason knee surgery that kept him inactive until camp in August. It was his absence in spring workouts that opened the door for Bryant and now has Londry-Jackson fighting for his job. But against Elon, he glided around the pocket, coolly checked off receivers and smoothly avoided rushers.
He also showed that his arm and legs were in sync and that he can make a variety of throws. On the first drive, he delivered a bullet from the pocket, rolled out to hit a receiver in the flat and floated a ball just over a defender to a back running down a seam. He completed his first eight passes.
More than anything, Londry-Jackson showed confidence. He said he thinks less and less about the knee and more about just playing football. In other words, he’s trusting his instincts.
He didn’t hesitate when it came time to tuck the ball and run. He stood tall when passing and didn’t flinch when defenders closed in for two sacks.
“I’m a third-year starter, but I’m also all about getting the win for the team,” Londry-Jackson said. “You do what you’ve got to do.”
Londry-Jackson spent half the game on the sideline. He again stood tall, this time with his helmet in his hands as a sophomore took first-team snaps with the game far from over.
At this point in the season – and in his career – he was doing what he had to do.