Backup quarterbacks must be ready to perform at a moment’s notice. And when called upon, the situation is often critical.
Charleston Southern redshirt freshman Danny Croghan was watching from the sidelines last Saturday as the Buccaneers battled Appalachian State in Boone, N.C.
CSU starting quarterback Malcolm Dixon scored a touchdown late in fourth quarter to put CSU ahead, but the score was nullified because of a penalty. On the play, Dixon injured his knee and was unable to continue.
In a flash, Croghan was on the field.
After an incomplete pass on second down, Croghan connected with receiver Kevin Glears on the game-winning 15-yard touchdown pass, sending the Buccaneers to arguably their biggest win in school history. It was Croghan’s third college pass and his first completion.
With Dixon out for this weekend’s game with North Greenville, Croghan will make his first collegiate start, just two years removed from leading Bishop England to a state championship.
“We had complete confidence in Danny on Saturday, and we have complete confidence in him this Saturday,” said CSU head coach Jamey Chadwell, who is 5-0 in his first season. “Danny had a great spring and a great fall camp. He definitely was in the mix to be our starter.
“But Malcolm, being a senior and having a big edge in game experience, was the guy that won the job. Danny has worked very hard, and he is ready for this opportunity to lead our football team. He’s a young man with a great deal of maturity and leadership ability.”
As a former college quarterback himself, Chadwell knows the importance of being ready to play under any circumstances. He was impressed with Croghan’s reaction to the sudden change.
“In that situation we were not just going to hand it off; we had to run the plays and Danny was ready,” Chadwell said. “He has prepared himself every week in practice so I wasn’t really surprised at how he responded.”
Croghan’s first collegiate start will come in front of a friendly crowd at Buccaneer Field. It also will come against a 4-0 North Greenville squad that has already won twice on the road this season.
Croghan, a 6-4, 220-pounder, is looking forward to the opportunity to help the Bucs remain unbeaten.
“I’m very excited about this chance,” said Croghan. “I’m prepared for this, and I’m not nervous at all. I have such confidence in my teammates and what we do offensively.
“As the backup I always prepare, but it is a little different knowing that I am starting. Knowing that I am going out there for that first series sort of focuses me even more, but I have always tried to focus and be ready.”
Dixon’s injury is not believed to be season-ending, and he will likely return to action in a few weeks. But, according to Croghan, there is no quarterback controversy at CSU, regardless of how he plays.
“I wish I was not getting this chance because of an injury,” he said. “I have a great deal of respect for Malcolm, and he has been very helpful to me. We are very close, and it was hard for me to enjoy the win Saturday because of his injury.
“They say he may come back in a few weeks, and I hope that’s the case. Being a senior, I want him to make it back. If that means he comes back and starts over me, that’s fine. He deserves to be able to finish this season.”