Bauserman a more comfortable, confident QB for Hornets

Shenandoah University quarterback Hayden Bauserman looks for a receiver during second half action against Catholic Saturday at Shentel Stadium in Winchester. Rich Cooley/Daily

WINCHESTER – There’s been a different feeling surrounding Hayden Bauserman as Shenandoah University’s football team prepares for its season opener at Gallaudet on Saturday night.

Bauserman, set to begin his second season as the Hornets’ starting quarterback, said during the team’s media day on Aug. 21 that he’s not only more comfortable in SU’s spread offense in year two, but more comfortable simply playing football, a luxury he didn’t enjoy last year after taking nearly a full year off from the sport before joining the Hornets for spring practice in 2015.

No longer in need of that acclimation process, Bauserman has shown a level of confidence that was absent during his freshman season, said offensive coordinator Stan Hodgin.

“And it’s not only in his play, but he has expanded his role as a leader and as kind of the face of the offense,” Hodgin said. “… He’s where it all starts and certainly I think he’s surrounded by some pretty good weapons, but (he’s) much more of a confident player right now.”

Despite remaining one of the younger faces on a veteran offensive unit, Bauserman accepted the prospect of taking an expanded role in the offseason, acknowledging that it comes with the responsibility of being the quarterback. Challenged by his coaches to be more and do more as a sophomore, Bauserman said he pushed himself to be more vocal in the weight room in the offseason while simultaneously setting a goal to lose weight in order to increase his mobility in the pocket.

“I think Hayden has had an excellent camp,” SU head coach Scott Yoder said of the 6-foot-3, 225-pound sophomore from Woodstock. “He’s about 15 pounds lighter and it’s just made a huge difference in everything. Not just conditioning and moving in the pocket but just his approach to the game and what he’s able to do. We run an up-tempo offense so he’s in much better shape.”

Bauserman is hoping all of his new traits lead to more consistency in 2016 after an up-and-down college debut.

The 2014 Central High School graduate certainly had his highs in 2015. He threw for 2,177 yards and 21 touchdowns – the second-best single-season marks in SU history – and set a school record for completions in a season (188). In a Week 2 win over Ferrum, Bauserman set single-game school records for passing touchdowns (four) and completion percentage (84.2 percent), and he already owns the two highest single-game passing totals in SU history, including a 450-yard performance in a win over Guilford last October.

But Bauserman also threw 15 interceptions – more than any other QB in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference – and began losing some snaps to backup Travis Barton Jr. once the Hornets hit ODAC play.

“It was frustrating, I’m not gonna lie,” Bauserman said. “I had some ups and downs, had some moments where I was really good and some moments where I was really bad. I think the main thing for me this year’s just being more consistent with my play. Last year was probably one of the more frustrating seasons but it was definitely a good learning experience for me as a person and as a quarterback.”

Bauserman isn’t alone in feeling that frustration. Players on both sides of the ball have expressed the need for more consistency in 2016 in order to break a string of three consecutive 4-6 seasons.

SU’s offense could be primed to do that this fall, with plenty of talent surrounding Bauserman at the skill positions, including all-ODAC running back Cedrick Delaney and four of the team’s top five receivers from last season in Leonard Scott, Michael Ashwell, Jalen Brisco and Qlyl Middelijn.

Bauserman said his rise in confidence paired with the talent across the offensive unit should allow the Hornets to expand their play-calling this season.

“I think we’re more comfortable and I think Coach Hodgin feels more comfortable opening up the playbook for us,” Bauserman said. “Not only me but we have a lot of returners across the board, so everybody’s more experienced and ready for that step.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com