Following Saturday's 37-24 loss to Memphis, Arkansas State University junior quarterback Logan Bonner was short when asked if rotating with sophomore quarterback Layne Hatcher threw off the offense's rhythm.
"I don't think it did," Bonner said, shaking his head.
The two quarterbacks shared all 80 of ASU's offensive snaps Saturday -- Bonner 48, Hatcher 32 -- rotating every third possession. Arkansas State appeared to have a detailed plan on how it wanted to rotate its quarterbacks: Bonner would play two series, then Hatcher would play a single series, and then back to Bonner for two series. This never changed throughout the game, no matter the outcome -- interception or touchdown -- on the previous drive.
Coach Blake Anderson expects it to stay that way.
"This is our plan for awhile and we'll see how it goes," Anderson said after the game. "We think this is something we can be effective at. That was not the issue tonight. There were other issues, but that wasn't it."
The rotation worked well in the first quarter, with both quarterbacks leading the offense on scoring drives in each of their first possessions.
"I felt like I came out guns blazing," said Bonner, who started the game and played eight of ASU's 12 drives. "I felt food, felt like I was seeing things right, and I just felt good to be out there."
But ASU's offense got stagnant in the second and third quarters, scoring only a single field goal in those 30 minutes.
Each quarterback had their mistakes. Bonner threw interceptions in the second and third quarters, with the first one him not seeing a Memphis linebacker and the second coming on a great defensive play by Sylvonta Oliver who ripped the ball from senior wide receiver Dahu Green's hands. Hatcher took an 11-yard sack on a third and seven in the second quarter and an 8-yard sack on first and 10 in the third quarter.
"Mental errors," said Bonner, who was 14 of 23 for 133 yards, while Hatcher was 13 of 20 with 166 yards through the air. "We had so many explosive plays on the sidelines to Bubba [Ogbebor] on some corner routes that were 20-yard gains and both of them got called back for holding on a couple drives. I think you can't do that if you want to play fast and have explosive plays.
"We can't shoot ourselves in the foot. Who makes the least amount of mistakes? And we made too many tonight."
But the offense's woes weren't all on Bonner and Hatcher. A couple of crucial drops by Green in the third quarter paired with two holding penalties, and the two were often put in difficult situations.
"I thought both quarterbacks did some good things. We missed some opportunities that I think we'll learn from," Anderson said. "But neither one of them went out there and played differently than we expected them to. That's kind of what they've been doing. They've been throwing the ball well, putting it around our wideouts, making good decisions, and I thought we got that again tonight. When we made big plays, we had a couple holding calls that brought them back, a couple drops, and those are things you can't do against a good team."
The question now becomes how much longer until one guy is named the starter?
Anderson doesn't have an answer for that yet, stating the same plan will likely be used for Kansas State on Saturday. He feels as though the offense wasn't the biggest concern against Memphis, putting up 424 total yards and earning 25 first downs to the Tigers' 502 yards and 29 first downs.
Right now, he sees no problem with continuing to play both.
"I'm not going to make a snap judgment on that," Anderson said. "I can tell just watching that their decision-making and their rhythm -- they weren't wildly overthrowing balls, they weren't making poor decisions all night long. That really is not where the issue lies.
"Can both of them play better? Absolutely. But I'm not going to sit here and make some snap judgment based off emotion of a game that we lost."
At a glance
m ASU quarterbacks by drive against Memphis:
Drive 1, Bonner: 12 plays, 75 yards, touchdown (Ryan Graham, 1-yard rush)
Drive 2, Bonner: 3 plays, 6 yards, punt
Drive 3, Hatcher: 8 plays, 84 yards, touchdown (Isaiah Azubuike, 1-yard rush)
Drive 4, Bonner: 4 plays, 13 yards, interception
Drive 5, Bonner: 6 plays, 12 yards, punt
Drive 6, Hatcher: 8 plays, 30 yards, punt
Drive 7, Bonner: 1 play, 9 yards, end of half
Drive 8, Bonner: 7 plays, 17 yards, field goal (Blake Grupe, 28 yards)
Drive 9, Hatcher: 4 plays, 22 yards, fumble (Reed Tyler)
Drive 10, Bonner: 3 plays, 17 yards, interception
Drive 11, Bonner: 12 plays, 84 yards, touchdown (TW Ayers, 1-yard catch)
Drive 12, Hatcher: 12 plays, 72 yards, turnover on downs