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JONESBORO -- Junior quarterback Logan Bonner will take the first snap Saturday in Arkansas State University's season-opening matchup with Memphis, Coach Blake Anderson announced Monday.

But sophomore Layne Hatcher also will see the field, Anderson said, after he started the final nine games for ASU last season when Bonner suffered a season-ending injury.

Bonner and Hatcher have been battling all fall, with Anderson saying it was Bonner's job to lose. Although Bonner is the official starter, Anderson indicated that doesn't mean Hatcher won't play more in the game or start the next week.

"Logan Bonner was the starter going into fall camp and he still is. He did nothing to lose that job," Anderson said. "But we are going to play Layne Hatcher some as well. How many snaps it is, where that happens -- not absolutely certain. That's still a day-to-day conversation.

"So Logan Bonner is going to go out with the first [team offense] and then somewhere during the course of the game you're going to see Layne Hatcher play."

Bonner started the first four games last season before hurting his throwing hand. He threw for 1,052 yards and 10 touchdowns with 1 interception.

Hatcher -- who transferred from Alabama, where he was a walk-on, after the 2018 season -- thrived after inheriting the job, throwing for 2,946 yards and 27 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. He was 6-3 as the starter and led the Red Wolves to a 34-26 victory over Florida International in the Camellia Bowl. He also was named Sun Belt Conference Freshman of the Year.

"If they view it as a competition every time they step out there, it will not be a positive for the team," offensive coordinator Keith Heckendorf said. "If they view it as it's their opportunity and role to help lead and guide the team, then it could be very positive because it can take the pressure off them. If you go out and you play this position trying to win the job on every series and every throw, you press, you try to make a big play, you try to create something that may not be there."

Anderson said he's confident both can lead the team and will be ready when called upon. One of the biggest reasons why Anderson feels the need to play both is that not only have they each earned the right, but also if one were to be injured or test positive for covid-19, the other needs to be prepared.

"In today's time, with the threat of injury and the threat of close contact and covid testing, we've just talked a lot about it and we feel the need to have them both ready at a high level. They're both playing at a high level. And I think the best way to keep them playing at a high level is giving Layne reps, however many that may be."

Bonner, Hatcher and ASU will travel to Memphis on Saturday, with kickoff set for 7 p.m. on ESPN.


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