Albert, Tigers on win streak
By CONOR NICHOLL
Coach Chris Brown has had four starting quarterbacks, two quarterback battles and several other signal-callers in the mix to play in his three seasons at Fort Hays State University.
This year, sophomore Treveon Albert started slowly in his transition from wide receiver to quarterback, but has especially improved in the last several weeks.
In his tenure, Brown called Albert the most consistent quarterback in terms of being at workouts, working hard in the classroom and "doing all the little things." Albert has significantly upped his film room time and has become a solid leader.
"I am very, very hard on him," Brown said. "I want him to be perfect. I want to make sure that he knows everything about the game, and I think he understands that."
In a quarterback-driven league, Albert is starting to move up the ranks. Albert has posted a quarterback rating over 100 in each of the last four games, a feat that never occurred with Anthony Sheppard and Tarean Austin under center in 2012.
Last week, Albert completed 14 of 18 passes (77.8 percent) for 187 yards and three scores against one interception in a 31-17 victory at Lindenwood (Mo.) University.
As well, he rushed 19 times for 125 yards. Albert's completion percentage is the highest by a FHSU signal-caller in the program's eight-year MIAA era.
"I am getting better and better every single week," Albert said.
His 208.9 passer rating marked the best since Mike Garrison had a 242.3 against East Central (Okla.) University in Week 2 of the 2009 season. Albert's rushing total was the highest by a FHSU quarterback since Anthony Smith had 134 against Missouri Western State University on Oct. 4, 2008.
"When he first came in, he really had to find his identity, and now he is pretty much a leader out there," senior defensive lineman Jeremy Jones said. "He can run the offense out there now. He is doing a great job."
Senior running back Andre Smith collected 138 rushing yards as FHSU had a pair of 100-yard rushers for the first time since 2004 and just the 16th time since 1980. The Tigers moved to 2-4, 1-4 MIAA.
This week, Fort Hays plays host to Southwest Baptist (Mo.) University (1-5, 1-4) in the MIAA TV Game of the Week. Start time is 2:30 p.m. at Lewis Field Stadium. FHSU looks for its longest winning streak since a 3-0 start in 2008.
"We have got some momentum going," Brown said. "We just need to keep that momentum and keep practicing the way our kids know how to practice and eliminate those little mistakes. I think if we continue to do that, our team has got a great chance to do some good things the rest of the season."
Unlike Brown's previous two falls, the Tigers named Albert the starter entering fall camp after he started in the spring.
"He has been the guy since the start of the season, so that helps a lot," senior wideout Keaton Callins said. "This offense fits him very well."
Albert tossed six interceptions in the first two games and often tried to do too much. Brown stuck with him and didn't want to make a change. Now, Albert played more within the system. He has completed 89 of 156 passes for 1,020 yards with an 8/9 TD/INT ratio and 63 carries for 321 yards and three scores. He ranks ninth in the MIAA at 224 total yards per contest.
Albert, from Atlanta, had more than 2,500 total yards as a high school senior, but never used to watch film until deep into the playoffs - and then still only a little bit. At FHSU, players are required to watch three hours a week. Now, Albert watches three hours Monday and comes in during the week; he estimated six to seven hours of film watching. Albert said reading defenses and preparing for each game are the biggest changes from the first contest.
"He is still learning, he is still maturing, he is still growing, and he is starting to figure out what our offensive scheme is and really learn how to read the defense," Brown said. "That's huge. He is getting guys lined up where they need to get lined up. He is understanding what we need to get done and understanding the situations now."
The personnel around Albert as played well, too. FHSU still remains tied for first in fewest sacks allowed (three). Andre Smith ranks seventh in the conference with 513 rushing yards and senior Keaton Callins has enjoyed a nice year with 26 catches for 266 yards and four scores, all team-highs. Entering this year, Callins had 26 catches for 331 yards and three TDs.
"It's good to know that you are the No. 1 receiver and me and Treveon worked our way through the summer, and we have that good chemistry going," Callins said. "We want to keep it going through the rest of the season."
Senior tight end Marshall Musil, an Oklahoma transfer, has continued to improve as an offensive weapon and now has eight catches for 104 yards and an eight-yard score last week - his first in his five-year collegiate career.
"There is a lot of different things that you do as a tight end in our offense," Brown said. "He is starting to figure it out and get comfortable with it. He is a strong kid, and he is an athletic kid."