Chris Collins, The Black Bear
Any Coach’s mantra when they lose an impact player is all the same. This is a team, and it’s the next man up. Even though each coach expresses these sentiments, each coach does not enjoy the same response.
No one outside of the Bears locker room was sure how they would respond after sophomore quarterback Breck Ruddick’s controversy and the effects looming over the team. Coach Steckel’s confidence never wavered in his team.
“I’m fired up about us just improving and getting better each week,” Steckel said. “ It doesn’t matter who we play, I don’t mean any disrespect by that but we have to bounce back.”
In the two games Ruddick started, he was responsible for 471 yards and four touchdowns.
Ruddick was suspended indefinitely after dog abuse allegations.
With no end in sight of the suspended Ruddick’s controversy, the Bears have at least turned the page in the short term with senior backup quarterback Brodie Lambert. The Bears have turned in a record of 1-2 led by Lambert since Ruddick’s suspension. In his first two full games as the Bears starter, Lambert accumulated 425 yards and three touchdowns.
“I think he’s responded well,” junior wide receiver Malik Earl said. “He’s remain the same and I think that’s the best part about him, even when he wasn’t the starter, he never lost his confidence and in this game it’s always next man up, so I think that’s what is fueling him.”
Lambert and Earl built up a camaraderie as they connected 18 times in those first two starting games.
“Once you become reliable he always looks your way at some point in the game,” Earl said.
As well as he has performed, Lambert is still not content with his play and still sees room for improvement.
“I need to protect the football better. Four turnovers isn’t going to cut it against any team,” Lambert said, referencing the previous loss to North Dakota State.
It’s still not clear whether the team will move on from Ruddick in the long term.