Last week, Northeastern State made the mistake of giving a freshman quarterback his first start against Western’s secondary.
The Griffon defense made them pay in the 24-17 win by forcing Blayne Armstrong to go 0-for-4 with three interceptions before he was pulled for veteran quarterback Kevin Pantastico.
All in all, Western came up with five interceptions on the day, including one each from each member of the starting secondary.
Jonathan Owens, Donte Watkins and Mike Jordan all picked off Armstrong, while Sam Brown was able to record an interception off Pantastico.
This week, the secondary has a new challenge as Jesse Scoggins and Lindenwood roll into Spratt Stadium.
Lindenwood will show up on Saturday with a 1-2 record with losses to Pittsburg State and Fort Hays State. But in Scroggins, the Lions possess one of the most intriguing players in the MIAA.
In 2010, the Lakewood, Calf., native was the second ranked quarterback recruit in the country according to ESPN. That was higher ranked than Michigan’s Devin Gardner, who was fifth, Tennessee’s Tyler Bray, sixth, Missouri’s James Franklin, 59th, and former third overall NFL Draft pick and Central Florida quarterback Blake Bortles, who was 66 spots below Scroggins at 68.
He was the No. 55 prospect overall, over future first round draftees Eric Reid from LSU, Luke Joeckel and Jake Matthews from Texas A&M, C.J. Mosley from Alabama and Anthony Barr of UCLA.
The highly-touted quarterback choose Pete Carroll’s University of Southern California offer over reported offers from Nebraska, Florida, LSU, Tennessee, Washington and many others.
The one problem with Scroggins choosing USC was that the Trojans already had a quarterback on the roster who was just one year older than Scroggins, Matt Barkley.
Barkley was the No. 1 recruit in the nation in 2009 and was already flourishing as the Trojans’ starting quarterback before Scroggins even had the opportunity to step on campus.
Scroggins redshirted his first season at USC and then rode the bench in 2011 while Barkley led the team to a 10-2 record and Barkley finished sixth in Heisman Trophy voting.
With Barkley coming back for his senior season in 2012, Scroggins decided to transfer in search of his first game-action of his college career.
He went to El Camino College and played well enough to get back on the Division-I radar. In 2013, he joined the University of Arizona program.
In 2013, he once again found himself unable to get on the field. The junior waited for his chance the following year, however, when B.J. Denker would graduate and Scroggins could attempt to win the job for his senior season.
Freshman Anu Solomon beat out the senior for the job, however, and Scroggins was again relegated to clipboard duty. He did get some regular season action when Solomon was hurt or the Wildcats had a comfortable lead, but never for too long, until the Pac-12 Championship Game.
With Solomon battling injury and the Oregon Ducks taking a commanding lead in the game, Scroggins was inserted into the lineup at halftime.
Although he just went 3-for-11 and Oregon cruised to a 51-13 win, Scroggins did throw his first collegiate touchdown pass: a 69-yard bomb.
Last spring, Scroggins contacted Lindenwood in hopes of continuing his athletic career on the baseball diamond, but to his surprise they informed him he still had football eligibility at the Division-II level.
So now the sixth-year quarterback looks to leave one more impression on the football field in his final season.
Saturday, though, will be a tough test for the signal-caller, whose season, much like his college career, has been up-and-down thus far.
In three games, he has thrown for 564 yards and three touchdowns, but only has a 46 percent completion rate and has thrown three interceptions.
The Griffon secondary hopes to add to that interception total on Saturday and show the former Pac-12 player that the MIAA can create plenty of problems for him as well.