As a first-year starting varsity quarterback, Collingswood High School sophomore Jordan Wallace has at times had that wide-eyed look to him on the field this season.
As Wallace gets more reps under center, however, he's really starting to see things.
The Panthers spent the bye week cleaning up an offense that has sputtered through four games tallying a 1-3 record. Head coach Jack McConnell said part of the early struggles can be linked to an inexperienced offensive line that has left added pressure on his young quarterback.
As the line continues to come together, he believes Wallace’s play will start to blossom.
“He’s starting to see his receivers a little better,” McConnell said. “We are struggling a little bit with our pass protection, so what has happened is he hasn’t been looking downfield first, he has been looking at the protection first. He is starting to look at his receivers more and seeing them. He’s doing a better job of executing the offense.”
Wallace admitted to having trouble seeing the whole field at times this season, but said each week he is becoming more comfortable going through the progressions.
“It’s been tough with the line, but I am starting to see the field more,” Wallace said. “I know where guys will be. It’s been getting a lot better.”
Wallace’s best moment this season came in the Panthers’ 6-0 win against Overbrook. With the game scoreless in the fourth quarter and the Panthers driving, Wallace rolled out to his right, rolled back left, then scrambled right again making a throw to Steven Copeland in the back of the end zone.
It was the type of play that showed what type of player Wallace can become when he fully develops.
“Without a doubt (he can become a special player),” McConnell said. “He’s in the learning process and I think in the next couple of years he’s going to be one of those guys that people are looking at.”
Wallace believes the biggest key to becoming the player he believes he can be is continuing to expand his football intelligence. He already believes there is a major difference in his knowledge now compared to the start of the season.
“I’m smarter,” Wallace said. “In the beginning of the season I didn’t know the plays as well as I should and wasn’t playing that good. I know what I’m doing more now and it’s going to show.”
McConnell believes next week’s game against Lindenwold is crucial not just for his young quarterback, but also the rest of the team. Lindenwold (0-4) has scored just 14 points this season, so Friday’s contest represents a good opportunity for the Panthers to build some momentum.
Of course, McConnell knows the Lions feel the same way about them.
“Lindenwold is going to be coming after us, so we have to make sure our technique and our fundamentals are sound,” McConnell said. “All we can really do is go back to the basics.”
For Wallace that means continuing to develop trust in his line and receivers.
“I think everyone is starting to learn where they should be and guys are paying more attention,” Wallace said. “We are going to be a better team the rest of the way.”