SU Football Notebook: Bauserman a ‘magician’ in Hornets’ offense

Hayden Bauserman

WINCHESTER – Shenandoah University junior quarterback Hayden Bauserman continues to shatter records.

Bauserman, who entered his third season as the school’s all-time career passing leader, already holds most of SU’s single-game, single-season and career passing marks, and he was back to resetting the record books again in last week’s Thursday night road win at Randolph-Macon College.

In the Hornets’ 51-38 win over Macon, Bauserman completed 32 of 60 passes for 559 yards, six touchdowns and one interception, setting new school records for passing yards and touchdown passes in a game in the process. He eclipsed his own previous school-best mark for passing yards by 109 yards.

Bauserman, a 2014 Central High School graduate, has now attempted at least 45 passes, thrown for over 300 yards and tossed at least four touchdowns in each of Shenandoah’s first four games of 2017.

“I told him the other day he was a magician,” Hornets senior receiver Leonard Scott said Wednesday.

Bauserman’s career day landed him his first Old Dominion Athletic Conference Offensive Player of the Week award this week, as well as a spot on the D3football.com Team of the Week for the first time in his career.

After setting Shenandoah single-season records for pass attempts (369), completions (229), yards (2,648) and touchdowns (27) in 2016, Bauserman is on pace for 515 pass attempts, 302 completions, 3,975 yards and 47 touchdowns this fall.

He is 121-for-206 passing (58.7 percent) for 1,590 yards, 19 touchdowns and four interceptions through the first four games.

“I think what you’re seeing is the harvest of an awful lot of hard work on his part,” Hornets offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Stan Hodgin said.

“What I’ve tried to share with Hayden is your development, your improvement, is not going to be necessarily a whole lot more great plays, it’s going to be the reduction and elimination of bad plays. If you reduce your bad plays you get more chances to run plays, which means you get more chances to have big-producing play. So I think it’s kind of a result of that.”

Hodgin went on to say that while Bauserman’s cause has certainly been aided by a veteran offensive line and an experienced and talented receiving corps, the junior quarterback is better now at placing passes in order to maximize his receivers’ yards after catch than he has been at any point in his collegiate career.

Scott, who caught seven passes for 162 yards and three touchdowns against Randolph-Macon, echoed that statement.

“As a receiver I know it’s my job to get open but – I don’t know if I should say this about myself or not – but there’s been plenty of times where I didn’t think I was open and he just puts the ball in the correct spot where only I can get it,” Scott said. “He makes me look good. I tell him all the time, there’s a lot of times where he’s definitely dug my behind out of the mud.”

Even Bauserman’s misses have Hornets head coach Scott Yoder beaming, and Yoder used a golf analogy to describe Bauserman’s ability to take care of the football.

“His drives are going on the right-hand side of the fairway. That’s his miss right now, which is why we’re operating at a high level,” said Yoder, who also called Bauserman the “best player in the league before the ball is snapped,” a testament to his ability to read opposing defenses and knowing where he wants to go with the football.

Bauserman leads all of NCAA Division III in passing yards per game (397.5), and he’s also tied for third in passing touchdowns and seventh in passing yards.

“It’s a really cool experience and it’s a really cool accomplishment,” said Bauserman, who has led his team to a 3-1 start (1-0 ODAC), “but at the same time as long as we’re winning football games I don’t necessarily care about any of that stuff. If we’re running the ball really well and I only throw for 100 yards and we win, that’s what really matters the most to me.”

Surprisingly enough, Hodgin said that through the first four games the Hornets have played four defenses that appeared to place a top priority on stopping SU’s running game, which is averaging just 115.5 yards per game (sixth in the ODAC). That could change very soon.

“I think it’s a matter of time before it starts happening,” Bauserman said of defenses shifting their focus on SU’s prolific passing game. “But when that happens that should open up the run game even more. … Like I’ve said in the past, we aim to be a balanced offense and I know through the first four games we haven’t necessarily showed that but I think we still have that in our back pocket and we’re able to do that. Moving forward you’ll probably see more of it.”

MIXING AND MATCHING: A slew of injuries in a loss to Hobart on Sept. 16 left SU’s defense scrambling to make adjustments, most notably moving Randy Oliver from defensive end to defensive tackle in the wake of Gladimir Dupalis’ season-ending injury and shifting Javonte Rose from safety back to outside linebacker. Yoder said he was encouraged by what he saw from that unit against Randolph-Macon.

The Hornets surrendered 38 points and 557 yards to the Yellow Jackets but they also had two sacks, 10 tackles for loss and forced four interceptions, including three over the final six minutes of the game. Senior linebacker Chris Grady returned the first of those three fourth-quarter interceptions for a touchdown.

“We’re really excited about the way we played. We certainly felt like we could’ve gotten off the field on some third downs but we got key stops when we needed to,” said Yoder, who rattled off a list of names that included defensive linemen Randy Oliver (nine tackles, three for loss), Tom Whalen (three TFLs) and Jordan Heisen, linebackers Tyler Williams (13 tackles) and Javonte Rose, and cornerback Devonte Dunn among those that played well last Thursday night.

“When you have your core guys play at a high level you have a chance to win. And if those guys continue to play that well, that’s what we need.”

Yoder said a defensive secondary left thin by the recent shuffling would get a boost with the return of freshman safety Daquan Pridget (knee), who has progressed ahead of schedule and should play against Emory & Henry this weekend.

INJURY REPORT: Linebacker Bernie Hayes III (knee) is still “at least weeks” away from a possible return, Yoder said, though he could be done for the season.

Yoder added that slot receiver/running back Jalen Hudson suffered from back spasms last week but that he is “banking on” the junior playing this weekend.