Beck to the future


By Adam Ovenell-Carter

There’s no doubt what the biggest story has been this NFL offseason: Peyton Manning’s release from the Indianapolis Colts. Alone, it warrants coverage, but play a little six-degrees-of-separation, and an interesting SFU twist pops up.

Poised to select Andrew Luck with the first overall draft pick in the April draft, the Colts have released Manning to free agency, where one of the front-runners to land him is the Washington Redskins. Naturally, if Manning ends up in D.C., he’d automatically become the starting quarterback, usurping the incumbent John Beck. John Beck played his college football at Bringham Young University, where he was backed up by a man by the name of Jason Beck (no relation), also known as SFU’s brand new offensive coordinator.

Fun and games aside, Jason Beck is poised to make a serious mark on the SFU program.

Beck comes to SFU with high praise, and a college pedigree few can match. After graduating from the BYU program, he joined the school’s coaching staff. He later moved on to join LSU’s football staff, where he was part of a Tigers program whose offense set 10 school records and averaged 38.6 points per game.

He’s spent the last three seasons as the quarterbacks coach at Weber State College, where he again had tremendous success. Under his tutelage, quarterback Cameron Higgins became the Big Sky Conference’s all-time leader in touchdowns with 98 and is easily Weber State’s all-time passing leader, with 12,252 yards.

“Where he played, where he coached, his pedigree is just dramatically different,” said head coach Dave Johnson. However, it almost goes without saying that his college lineage is not the sole reason he was brought on to steady a developing program — even if he is just four ‘degrees’ away from the legendary Peyton Manning.

“He has a unique combination of youth and character that we’ve been missing,” added Johnson. “I interviewed countless guys [for the position], but he stood out.

“He’s eaten some humble pie in his days, especially being beaten out for the starting job at BYU. We preach character to our players, and he has a ton of it.”

The Clan’s transition to the NCAA ranks hasn’t exactly been a smooth one; most notable are the team’s two conference wins in as many seasons since joining the GNAC. The players, like their tenure in the NCAA, are still young, and always developing, and Johnson believes Beck can still relate.

“We do have two years of experience through our lineup, but we’re still young. He’s still young enough to be able to relate to the players, and he brings a youthful perspective and energy that’ll come in handy as I get greyer,” laughed Johnson.

Perhaps the biggest selling point for Johnson was Beck’s knowledge of the passing game. While the Clan’s Bo Palmer-led running game was a sight to see, their aerial game last year was “anemic”, according to Johnson, and that’s a pretty fair description.

“We played five games where our quarterbacks threw for less than 100 yards, and you just can’t win in this league when that happens. We brought [Beck] on board to bring a much-needed balance to our offence.”

That sentiment was echoed by Beck himself.

“We’ll keep playing to our strengths,” added Beck, “Obviously our run game is just that, but we definitely want to become more balanced, and more unpredictable.”

Beck, who arrived at SFU just in time to start spring training, already has a strong grasp on where the Clan are now, and what he needs to do to get them where they need to be.

“My experience as a player and as a coach, has really prepared me for this opportunity. I think we have the pieces in place to have a chance to win every game, but it’s not just going to come to us,” he said.

“We’re going to have to work for it.”

Beck’s past certainly bodes well for the Clan’s future, even if it does take some time to iron out the kinks.

“We’ve made such great strides the past year, and we don’t want to have to take
any steps back,” said Johnson. “Bringing in Jason Beck is definitely a step forward.”