/playoffs/2013/mary-hardin-baylor-quarterbacks

UMHB QB situation goes from 404 to A-OK

More news about: Mary Hardin-Baylor | UW-Whitewater

Zach Anderson has started the majority of the season after getting his first varsity start vs. Wesley.
Photo by Andrew Zavoina, d3photography.com

By Joe Sager
for D3sports.com

A big question mark became an exclamation point for the Mary Hardin-Baylor football team.

Entering the season, the Cru faced the daunting task of finding a new quarterback after LiDarral Bailey wrapped up his career as the program's most prolific passer, the D3football.com South Region Offensive Player of the Year and a second team All-American.

His quarterback resume is a long one. He had a 34-4 record (with just one regular-season loss) and finished as UMHB's all-time leading passer. He set nearly every program passing record. His impact was felt outside the record books, too.

"LiDarral was a great leader and competitor," Cru coach Pete Fredenburg said. "He was very well-respected and thought of and did a great job leading the offense."

So, how do you replace a guy like that? The Cru (13-0) used a handful of quarterbacks – and not by choice, at first. Jake Sims, Brian Gallagher and Zach Anderson all have seen time under center. However, Anderson, a sophomore, seized the top spot in the team's third game and excelled.

"Zach started the year as the third-team guy and the other two got hurt. He stepped in and did a great job leading the offense and making plays and doing things only really good athletes can do," Fredenburg said. "He has helped us achieve the success we have achieved so far."

Anderson ran with the opportunity – literally. He enters Saturday's NCAA Division III national semifinal against UW-Whitewater (13-0) with a chance of joining the 1,000/2,000 club for rushing and passing yardage on the year. He has rushed for 779 yards and his 1,972 passing yards rank second in Cru single-season history.

"Throughout the year, I have been working on getting more comfortable in the pocket and trusting my line more," Anderson said. "If a running lane is there, I will take it, hopefully, if it is a smart decision. I've been trying to become more of a threat in the pocket over the last few games."

Mary Hardin-Baylor's balanced attack helps ease Anderson's transition. At 49.0 points per game, the Cru has Division-III's second-highest scoring offense. Mount Union (49.6 ppg) is first.

"I came in during the second game of the season. Every game I have been in, I feel we have steadily improved. I don't feel like I have too much of a burden. We have so many guys who can score," Anderson said. "The coaches do a really good job drawing up game plans and, once we are in the game, giving us plays. We try to be methodical. Our running back, Elijah Hudson, can hit a long run at any time. The same goes with any of our receivers. It's definitely fun being in that type of offense."

Anderson feels his game has improved dramatically since he took over under center.

"I attribute a lot to the coaches who have worked with me and had a lot of patience with me in practice and games," he said. "I feel like I have made quite a bit of improvement this year. I am just trying to get better every week with it."

And, he's had some encouraging words from the man he replaced – Bailey.

"Coming into college, I knew of him and the things he had done already. When I got here, he gave me a lot of helpful words," Anderson said. "He texts me once a week or every couple weeks to give me words of wisdom. While he was here, he was a help. Now, hearing his advice really helps me out a lot, too."

The Cru advanced to last year's semifinals and led big at Mount Union before dropping a 48-35 decision as the Purple Raiders scored two TDs in the closing seconds. Anderson, who watched that game on TV, is eager for this challenge.

"Last year, I played in the junior varsity program. I felt the hurt of the loss, but maybe not as much as some of the guys who played in the game. We have been here last year and know what it's like to be at this stage and what it's like to lose," he said. "That's the hardest part. That feeling is not something you can whisk away. The guys have been feeling it all year. I think that'll help us. We're so close. We're just ready to reach to the next stage. You grow up your whole life looking to play deep into December. To have this opportunity is surreal."

Brian Gallagher got a handful of snaps in Saturday's quarterfinal win and sparked a fourth-quarter surge on offense.
Photo by Joe Fusco, d3photography.com

Anderson won't have to do it all himself, either. Fredenburg said Gallagher will see some snaps as well. The senior has played throughout the year and was inserted into the lineup late in last week's 45-23 triumph over St. John Fisher. The Cardinals intercepted Anderson with 8:42 to play and scored less than a minute later to cut the deficit to 31-23. Gallagher replaced Anderson and earned the save. He engineered two scoring drives in the game's final minutes, the second came after a St. John Fisher fumble.

"Brian is qualified and very experienced. Putting him in against St. John Fisher (late in the game and pinned near the goal line), showed we have confidence and he responded very well. I think he is a really gifted quarterback," Fredenburg said. "He is talented and well-respected and has some leadership qualities. He does some stuff better than Zach and Zach does some stuff better than he does. We will utilize both and see if they can be productive. This defense we're facing is really awesome."

In addition, a third quarterback – Marcus Wimby – could take some snaps as well in the team's wildcat formation.

"We are blessed to have a lot of skilled guys. It kind of opens up the offense and allows us to run as well as pass," Fredenburg said. "Hopefully, it puts some pressure on defenses and creates some issues for them."

Nevertheless, the team is looking forward to playing at Crusader Stadium, which opened this year, once again.

"That's huge for us. We have a great fan base here. Just the comfort factor alone is huge," Anderson said. "I know they have great fans, too, so it's huge for us to be at home. Our motto has been: 'We don't lose at home.' We look to keep that up this Saturday."

Sep. 23: All times Eastern
Final
at Framingham State 50, Massachusetts Maritime 7
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Muhlenberg 56, at Juniata 40
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at Dean 25, Becker 10
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Salisbury 27, at TCNJ 7
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MIT 38, at Catholic 21
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Merchant Marine 56, at Maine Maritime 31
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at Hobart 34, Endicott 17
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at Morrisville State 44, Nichols 22
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at Delaware Valley 27, Stevenson 7
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at Albright 9, Widener 7
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Christopher Newport 16, at Montclair State 8
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at Westminster (Pa.) 41, Bethany 14
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Middlebury 41, at Bowdoin 14
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Williams 24, at Colby 7
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Amherst 36, at Hamilton 6
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Ursinus 35, at Moravian 17
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Trinity (Conn.) 51, at Bates 0
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at LaGrange 38, Brevard 28
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Geneva 33, at Thiel 24
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at Plymouth State 37, Mass-Dartmouth 7
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Kean 28, at Southern Virginia 14
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Frostburg State 24, at Rowan 10
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Union 17, at Curry 14
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at Carnegie Mellon 37, Thomas More 17
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Lycoming 44, at King's 41
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at Western New England 21, Husson 14
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Johns Hopkins 41, at Dickinson 10
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at DePauw 51, Wooster 24
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at Ohio Wesleyan 37, Allegheny 21
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at Misericordia 43, Wilkes 14
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at Alfred 45, Rochester 7
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Wesley 66, at William Paterson 0
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at N.C. Wesleyan 35, Maryville (Tenn.) 25
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Huntingdon 31, at Ferrum 28
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at McDaniel 27, Gettysburg 20
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at Buffalo State 33, RPI 21
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Franklin and Marshall 27, at Susquehanna 24
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at Denison 45, Oberlin 17
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at Northwestern (Minn.) 10, Westminster (Mo.) 7
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at Eureka 44, Crown 20
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at Lebanon Valley 24, FDU-Florham 14
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at Heidelberg 47, John Carroll 21
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at Ohio Northern 35, Otterbein 7
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at Mount Union 55, Baldwin Wallace 7
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at Rose-Hulman 37, Defiance 14
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at Marietta 49, Muskingum 25
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Franklin 59, at Bluffton 30
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at Hanover 64, Anderson 21
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Mount St. Joseph 31, at Manchester 14
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Worcester State 34, at Westfield State 10
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Coast Guard 13, at Norwich 9
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at Fitchburg State 31, Bridgewater State 29
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Wittenberg 48, at Kenyon 11
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at Wabash 25, Hiram 21
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North Central (Ill.) 51, at Millikin 21
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at Millsaps 17, Sewanee 13
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at Rhodes 35, Birmingham-Southern 9
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at Hendrix 36, Austin 24
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at Martin Luther 34, Greenville 20
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at Trinity (Texas) 41, Chapman 35
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at Loras 73, Buena Vista 34
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at Wartburg 30, Washington U. 20
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at Gustavus Adolphus 51, Hamline 7
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Augsburg 48, at Carleton 28
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at Bethel 64, St. Olaf 7
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at Luther 21, Dubuque 17
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at Central 52, Nebraska Wesleyan 27
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Simpson 38, at Coe 33
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Wheaton (Ill.) 40, at Elmhurst 15
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St. Norbert 66, at Grinnell 13
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at Knox 13, Ripon 6
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at MacMurray 32, Iowa Wesleyan 14
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Hardin-Simmons 63, at Howard Payne 3
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Southwestern 37, at Louisiana College 34
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Monmouth 26, at Macalester 0
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at St. Thomas 20, St. John's 17
@ Target Field, Minneapolis
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at Springfield 42, WPI 10
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at Cornell 55, Beloit 36
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at Brockport 28, Utica 14
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at Hartwick 24, St. John Fisher 21
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at UW-La Crosse 41, Carroll 6
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at St. Scholastica 37, Minnesota-Morris 3
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at George Fox 44, UW-Eau Claire 0
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at Western Connecticut 37, Salve Regina 23
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at UW-Stevens Point 41, Adrian 28
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at Wesleyan 24, Tufts 17
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at Averett 35, Methodist 6
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at Berry 28, Centre 14
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at Case Western Reserve 56, Waynesburg 21
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at Grove City 24, St. Vincent 14
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at Illinois Wesleyan 18, North Park 0
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at Mary Hardin-Baylor 50, Texas Lutheran 7
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at UW-Platteville 56, Lakeland 22
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Carthage 55, at Augustana 14
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Chicago 28, at Illinois College 7
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at Sul Ross State 35, McMurry 7
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at Wilmington 37, Capital 30
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Lake Forest 42, at Lawrence 26
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at East Texas Baptist 79, Belhaven 40
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Arizona Christian 56, at Whittier 38
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Sep. 23: All times Eastern
Final
at Delaware Valley 27, Stevenson 7
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Wesley 66, at William Paterson 0
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at Alfred 45, Rochester 7
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Johns Hopkins 41, at Dickinson 10
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Frostburg State 24, at Rowan 10
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at Heidelberg 47, John Carroll 21
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at Mount Union 55, Baldwin Wallace 7
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Wittenberg 48, at Kenyon 11
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at Wabash 25, Hiram 21
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Hardin-Simmons 63, at Howard Payne 3
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North Central (Ill.) 51, at Millikin 21
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Final
Wheaton (Ill.) 40, at Elmhurst 15
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Final
at St. Thomas 20, St. John's 17
@ Target Field, Minneapolis
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Final
at Brockport 28, Utica 14
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at Case Western Reserve 56, Waynesburg 21
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at Illinois Wesleyan 18, North Park 0
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at UW-Platteville 56, Lakeland 22
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at Mary Hardin-Baylor 50, Texas Lutheran 7
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