The way Bakersfield College’s head coach and offensive coordinator see it, the Renegades don’t have a backup quarterback. It’s not an issue of lack of depth. It’s because their top two quarterbacks are playing virtually at the same level.
Though Brandon Jones has started the last five games, Cesar De Leon was under center at the end of the game for BC’s two-point loss to Riverside and four-point win over El Camino.
The plan for the state-ranked No. 6 Renegades’ (5-1, 1-0 National Northern) game at state-ranked No. 18 Cerritos (3-3. 1-0 NNC) on Saturday at 7 p.m. is for Jones to get the start. De Leon will come in around the third or fourth series and then “we’ll go from there,” offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Carl Dean said. It’s not an ideal scenario for either quarterback, but the battle for playing time will continue until one surges ahead and takes control of the job.
“I wouldn't say that one is doing anything way better than the other,” Dean said. “I wish that was the case. I wish one would just completely separate themselves but they're both doing a really good job competing against one another and that’s just who we are right now.”
Prior to the season, the coaching staff made a chart of Jones’ and De Leon’s strengths and weaknesses. The coaches realized the two quarterbacks could function at the same level in the passing and running game, Dean said.
Jones is taller at 6-foot-3 and bigger at 215 pounds. His height allows him to see over the line, between the hash marks easier. His mobility is one of his best traits, Dean and head coach Jeff Chudy said, and his size makes Dean more inclined to call QB runs than with De Leon because Jones is harder to bring down and can absorb more hits.
De Leon, 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds, understands the offense in his second year with it and “throws a real catchable ball,” Chudy said. Dean tends to run a lot of uptempo offense when De Leon is in because of the energy and knowledge he brings onto the field.
But De Leon has a tendency to go for the big play when a safer one would do, Chudy said.
There’s not one type of defense Dean likes one quarterback over the other against but “maybe” would play Jones more in a game where BC is forced to throw the ball a lot since Jones can see better because of his height.
“I don't think there’s a huge dropoff when that other one goes in,” Dean said. “We’re not against that if one has a super hot hand that he stays in either. … It really isn't what the defense is doing it’s more of how we’re functioning as an offense.”
At the beginning of the year, Dean would have put De Leon in for a late, game-winning situation but now also feels comfortable with Jones, he said.
The biggest deciding factor is taking care of the football, Dean said. Jones has one interception and six touchdowns on 90 attempts. De Leon has two interceptions and three touchdowns on 56 attempts.
“I might not be putting up crazy numbers, but as long as I'm doing the job right to help us win games I'm alright,” De Leon said.
Chudy approaches the quarterback position as he does center or cornerback. Whoever is in is evaluated every snap, he said, and must execute at a high level. Otherwise a replacement could come in.
“You just got to take advantage of the opportunities presented to you and you got to make decisions,” Chudy said. “The thing about playing that position is you got to make a lot of decisions extremely quick so it’s not an easy position to play.”
Dean knows sharing time isn’t easy to do as a competitor and De Leon admitted he would like to be on the field more, but BC has one loss on the season and there’s no indication that the current system will be shaken up.
“We’re winning ballgames,” De Leon said. “I really can't complain.”