HOUGHTON - The standards Michigan Tech quarterback Tyler Scarlett has created are almost impossibly high.
His freshman year, Scarlett threw for 2,400 yards, completed 66 percent of his passes and notched 18 touchdowns to nine interceptions. He followed up that performance with 2,600 yards his sophomore season, 28 touchdowns against just four interceptions and a share of the GLIAC championship.
So it came as somewhat of a surprise when Scarlett's numbers went down across the board last season. Not a lot. Not a dramatic dip in production.
Michigan Tech quarterback Tyler Scarlett releases a pass during an October 2013 home game against Ferris State. Scarlett returns for his third season as the Huskies’ starter in 2014.
But still down. Scarlett dropped from a 64 percent completion rate to 57 percent. His yards per attempt fell from 8.3 to 7.7. Touchdowns (28 to 16) and interceptions (rose from 4 to 9) were worse as well. Most important, the offense fell from 37 points per game in 2012 to 27 points a contest last year.
Is Tech coach Tom Kearly concerned? No. Not at all.
Chalk it up to a small sample size, or chalk it up to an extremely young receiving core, or perhaps the loss of all-GLIAC tight end Bryan LaChapelle - but Kearly thinks Scarlett put together his best year at Tech last season.
"I don't think there is anything to that," Kearly said. "He had just as good a year or better. He has improved every year. He had a great season.
"We think he is as good as it gets in this league."
So all Kearly is looking for from Scarlett this spring is more of the same.
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Not that Scarlett is satisfied. Kearly said the senior quarterback still acts as his hardest critic.
"He is very, very competitive. If he throws a bad pass, he is upset about it. Which really, is what you want out of your quarterback," Kearly said. "You want to coach him down, rather than coach him up. I'd rather have to pull him back, then try to get him going."
A twist of scheduling has worked out in Kearly and Tech's favor.
A late afternoon class has caused Scarlett to miss half of the spring practices. Kearly says the situation has played out ideally, as Scarlett can go full-bore in the practices he attends, but Kearly can focus on backup quarterbacks Isaiah Hackney and Jacob Brown on the other half.
Both sophomores, Hackney currently slates in as the No. 2 on the depth chart, but Kearly stressed that the battle is far from decided.
"We're liking this spring because it allows the younger two to get more reps and get them in the No. 1 huddle and evaluate them. We are trying to get them to the level that Tyler is at.
"Right now Isaiah is the No. 2, but he has a year more of experience backing up last year. Jake did a really good job with our scout team last year and we are excited about him. We think we have very good options with where we are right now in that position."
Kearly said they use the spring to go over all scenarios with the backups.
The results aren't as important as the process is, getting the pair comfortable with the starting huddle.
"When they get in a game, there should be nothing that hits them that they haven't been prepared for," Kearly said. "Anything that can happen in that 2.6 seconds, they should have been prepared for to know how to react and where to go."