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Reeder Leads EIU Panthers' Offense Through First Half
Eastern quarterback ranked 30th in nation in completion percentage.
When quarterback Bodie Reeder drops back to pass, the odds are favorable it will be a completion.
The Ivesdale native has completed 62.9 percent of his passes this season - a statistic that ranks him second in the Ohio Valley Conference and 30th in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Only Murray State sophomore quarterback Jeff Ehrhardt has a higher completion percentage in the OVC (64.5), but Ehrhardt has also played in two fewer games. Bucknell junior quarterback Marcello Trigg leads the nation with a 72.3 completion percentage. Reeder has completed 95-of-151 passes for 1,121 yards and nine touchdowns with four interceptions in his first full year as Eastern’s starting quarterback. Reeder took the Panthers’ starting job for good last year against Indiana State on Sept. 22, 2007.
“You’d like to have your quarterback, who’s had a year under his belt, to play like that,” Eastern head coach Bob Spoo said. “He’s done his job. Now it’s time for other guys to step up and make plays.”
One of the biggest changes in Reeder’s play so far this season has been his ability to get the ball to several different receivers.
Reeder has completed at least one pass to 11 different players. He said having multiple targets has made Eastern’s offense more dynamic.
“It’s so much more exciting and more fun than last year when we tried to force the ball to (former Eastern wide receiver Micah Rucker) all the time,” Reeder said. “It’s kind of a double-edged sword because if you have a guy like Micah, you want to use him as much as you can. But we really didn’t utilize the other guys we had. This year with any given play you don’t really know who’s going to get the ball.”
Reeder said the Panthers might not have one go-to player, but instead there are several players who could be considered go-to guys.
He said players like red-shirt senior running back Travorus Bess, red-shirt sophomore running back Chevon Walker, red-shirt sophomore wide receiver Charles Graves and red-shirt sophomore tight end Sean McGrath all want to and can be go-to receivers but they don’t have to be. Reeder said any one of those players could be the go-to receiver.
“With the new offense we definitely get the ball around the field a lot more to different receivers,” McGrath said. “Coming from a (high school) that runs the triple option, it’s kind of nice getting the ball a lot.”
Eastern offensive coordinator Roy Wittke said Reeder has done a good job of going through is progressions during a play.
He said Reeder is not afraid to check the ball down and throw a pass to the second or third option on a certain play.
Wittke said he has stressed that with Reeder because the players typically running the checkdown, or underneath, routes players like Bess, Walker, McGrath or red-shirt senior fullback Chip Keys.
“Those are all guys we know and understand we need to get the ball to,” Wittke said. “(Reeder’s) really bought into that, and that’s an area he continues to get better in week in and week out.”
Reeder said Wittke has drilled using the checkdown receiver and to be aggressive with those throws in addition to being aggressive with big passes downfield.
“A lot of time on first down if you gain five yards on a checkdown that’s a positive play because our goal on first down every week is to get four yards,” Reeder said. “You can’t be shy to use those guys especially with (Bess) and (Walker) being two of our very best with the ball in their hands in open space.”
Reeder said most of Eastern’s pass patterns are progression reads, which means before the snap he has two receivers as his primary focus. The third option is typically the checkdown route.
He said the reads are easy if he’s quick enough and reads the coverage correctly.
“You’ve just got to be ‘one, two, three, get the ball out of your hand,’” Reeder said. “I’m not a Vince Young type. My third option is not to run it. Mine’s to get it to the checkdown and let those guys run it.”
Reeder’s high completion percentage could also be attributed to the Panthers’ offensive line’s pass protection.
Reeder was sacked four times against Central Michigan and three more times against Illinois, but the Panthers’ front five have given up just two sacks against FCS opponents.
“In my mind, it all starts from the protection standpoint,” Wittke said. “You take away the numbers that we had the first two ball games against Central Michigan and Illinois, and our guys have done a tremendous job of protecting him and giving him an opportunity to throw.”
Reeder leads Panthers’ offense through first half
By Scott Richey, The Daily Eastern News
Photo Credit: Eric Hiltner/The Daily Eastern News