This was the season a freshman might have started at quarterback for the Bryant University football team. Tucker Beirne, a 6-2, 225-pounder from Coral Gables, Fla., looked like a player who could follow in the footsteps of 2014 graduate Mike Westerhaus, who stood third on Bryant’s all-time passing list with 4,929 yards. Beirne’s father David played lacrosse at Bryant in the 1980s and currently sits on the Bryant board of Trustees, so Tucker already knew about the Bulldogs football program.
The problem was that last fall Tucker entered his senior year at Christopher Columbus High School and would not be available to the Bulldogs until 2015. Bryant coach Marty Fine still needed someone to call signals for the 2014 season before Beirne arrived in Smithfield. Enter Dalton Easton of Miami, who passed for 492 yards in a high school game and spent three semesters at the University of Akron before transferring to Bryant. He earned the starting position in training camp, threw for 2,007 yards in leading the Bulldogs to its best season and was named second-team All-NEC.
Fine would have been nuts to take the ball from Easton and give it to a rookie, so he didn’t. Easton has started every game this year for the 2-2 Bulldogs and was interception free until last week, when Monmouth picked three of his passes in Bryant’s 31-24 loss. He passed for 309 yards and a touchdown in the Bulldogs’ 20-16 victory at Brown.
Baring injury, Easton, a junior, has another year to play. In that case, Beirne would be a red-shirt sophomore or a junior when he gets his chance. His credentials are impeccable. The only freshman to start at quarterback at Aspen High in Colorado. The only sophomore to start at Christopher Columbus in Coral Gables. Four-year passing total of 9,970 yards. Twenty-two touchdown passes as a freshman, 28 as a senior.
Easton will lead the charge again Saturday at Central Connecticut. CCSU, 1-4, has not scored more than 14 points in a game this season.
The Pick: Bryant
BROWN AT HOLY CROSS
The 1-2 Bears have a final tuneup before their Ivy League opener next week at home against Princeton. The 2-2 Crusaders shut out Albany, 37-0, last week.
The Pick: Holy Cross
DELAWARE AT URI
Rams running back Harold Cooper is showing signs of being one of those special players who can swing momentum. Last week at Brown he rushed for 109 yards and a touchdown and returned a kick 92 yards for a touchdown. He is the CAA special teams player of the week. Unfortunately for the 0-5 Rams, there’s only one Harold Cooper on the roster.
The Pick: Delaware
NORTHWESTERN AT MICHIGAN
This could be the game of the day. No. 13 Wildcats are 5-0, No. 18 Wolverines 4-1. Both defenses are among the best in the nation. Playing in The Big House is a huge plus for Michigan.
The Pick: Michigan
CALIFORNIA AT UTAH
You thought Utah was known for canyons, powder skiing and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Add football. Utah is No. 5, a victor over Michigan and one of two undefeated teams in the PAC 12. No. 23 Cal is the other.
The Pick: Utah
Last Week, 3-2. Season, 12-3