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Friday, October 20, 2017

Football

Backup quarterback finally getting his shot as starter


starter

Kyle Postma searches for an opening amongst the SMU defense at TDECU Stadium on Saturday. The senior quarterback has led the Cougars to two straight wins against conference opponents as a starter this season. | Thomas Dwyer/The Cougar

The Cougars’ most reliable back-up, senior Kyle Postma, is finally starting games at quarterback.

After a long two years bouncing from the bench to the field 16 times, he seems to have cemented in that role, replacing high school superstar and Texas A&M transfer Kyle Allen.

The Seven Lakes High School alumnus has been a constant presence with the Cougars as the door revolved around the team with a new head coach, players and even Allen waiting in the wings to take over the quarterback position. Postma finally has an opportunity to cement his legacy with the team as a starter who has earned his job instead of filling in for others.

The legacy of the 6-foot-2-inch and 200-pound graduate will likely be his miraculous comeback victory at TDCEU Stadium against the Memphis Tigers last season. After taking over for the injured Greg Ward Jr., Postma went 21-of-33 for 236 yards in the fourth quarter.

All this while rushing for 49 yards, including a game-winning touchdown with 1:27 left on the clock.

Getting a chance

With his first two starts with the Cougars this season, Postma led the team to two victories against conference opponents and appears to have a firm grip on the starting job.

“It feels great to be the starter,” he said after the team’s 35-22 victory over SMU. “I’m just trying to get my confidence level up more. I made a few bad throws and decisions, but I just have to clean those up in practice. I just have to come out and do the best I can for the team.”

Postma’s journey to where he is now is a strange one, to say the least, but not uncommon. College players who don’t want to ride the bench when they think they have something more to contribute often transfer to get their chance.

Whatever it takes

After redshirting his first year of eligibility, the redhead played for Trinity Valley Community College in Trinity. While there, Postma helped the team to a 12-0 record behind his 3,328 yards passing and 38 touchdowns.

The team averaged 58.6 points per game and helped Postma make a name for himself in college football. After that stellar year, he transferred to UH but did not see the field as quarterback — instead, he played wide receiver.

Postma appeared as a wideout in three games before Tom Herman switched him back to quarterback — but not before he managed to catch six receptions for 145 yards and a touchdown.

Quarterback battle

After serving mostly as a fill-in, Postma had a shot to finally become the starting quarterback before the season. He and Texas A&M transfer and junior Kyle Allen competed all summer for the starting job. Although Allen eventually won the job, Postma’s competitiveness made it a difficult decision for Applewhite.

“I want whoever’s playing the best to play,” Applewhite said. “There’s nothing personal involved with it. I want production with every position, and I want it deep. It’s a long season, and you’re seeing that some guys have to step up.”

Allen hung onto that starting job for just three games. He was almost perfect against Rice, but he struggled against Arizona and Texas Tech by throwing multiple interceptions and failing to move the offense down field

Allen was eventually benched in favor of Postma in the 27-24 loss. After the game, Applewhite left the door open for a change at quarterback.

“Every job is open,” Applewhite said. “I know what it’s like on the outside. We don’t discuss any other position differently. Whether it’s right guard, quarterback, kicker or punter. It is always open. Everybody on the team deserves that.”

Final shot

Applewhite later talked to both quarterbacks the morning of the Temple game and informed them over breakfast that he would be starting Postma over Allen.

Postma is not alone in carrying the team. D’Eriq King, who was promised a starring roll as a quarterback on the Cougars when he was recruited by Herman, is seeing his patience pay off. He has been heavily featured at running back and wide receiver and has built a good chemistry with Postma.

Duke Catalon had a career game against the Mustangs on Saturday with 177 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Although Postma wound up with three total touchdowns, he still took a backseat to King and Catalon after throwing two interceptions.

Looking ahead

Postma is firmly in the driver’s seat of a 4-1 team that can take advantage of a weak Tulsa team Saturday in Oklahoma. If he can continue doing what he has done so far with the Cougars, then he might finish the year as a starter and play in either a conference championship or even a bowl game.

Despite the added pressure of playing as the starter and Allen waiting for his next shot, Postma just wants to win games.

“Kyle (Allen) is a real good quarterback. Obviously there is going to be competition,” Postma said. “We both know how to play football. You really never know what’s going to happen, and it’s just competition. I love everyone on this team, and I want to play for them. I want to do everything I can to win games for this team.”

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