There hasn’t been a need to start from square one for Tahlequah signal callers through offseason drills.
It’s a much different situation than what it was this time last year.
Head coach Brad Gilbert is settled at the quarterback position.
As a result, he’s more at ease this summer.
He has Tate Christian back.
He’s also got Simeon Armstrong back.
It’s now time for year two for both.
“I’ve always said that a quarterback is much better in year two than in year one,” Gilbert said Tuesday. “Things slow down and there’s a better understanding of the offense. Anytime you have a guy returning it allows you to progress at a faster rate and hopefully in time put even more points on the board.”
The tools and skills have been sharpened.
There’s a level of comfort.
“We’re in a different situation than what we were last year, obviously, with Tate’s experience returning,” Gilbert said. “Having an experienced quarterback just gives you a lot more options offensively. It’s a comfort level not just for me or the offensive coordinator, it’s a comfort level for everybody within the program to have a quarterback in place that has experience.”
Tate Christian and Simeon Armstrong were big parts in different ways for the Tigers’ 9-2 season in 2018.
Christian threw for 1,434 yards, completing 84 of 172 passes with 15 touchdowns in his first season after transferring from Pauls Valley.
His most notable performances came against Coweta in week two and in consecutive weeks against Tulsa East Central and Tulsa Memorial.
Christian threw for a season-high 266 yards against Coweta and tied a single-game school record with five TD passes. Against East Central he completed nine of his 14 attempts for 199 yards with four TD passes, and he threw for 220 yards with a pair of scores against Memorial.
It’s the intangibles in Christian that Gilbert raves the most about — his communication skills and leadership qualities.
“He’s a great communicator,” Gilbert said. “He’s as good as a communicator as I’ve had as a coach. I’ve talked to all of the players throughout the course of the offseason and so many of them talk about his ability to lead, and I think when players recognize his ability to lead that just speaks volumes of his leadership. He’s a natural leader and he’s able to communicate in a way that at times is commanding but at times is encouraging. I think you have to have that as a quarterback.”
Armstrong, who will spend a majority of his time at receiver, gives the Tigers a dual threat option in special package situations. He rushed for 259 yards, averaging 5.2 yards per carry, with three touchdowns. Through the air, Armstrong connected on five of his 11 attempts for 36 yards. As a receiver, the senior-to-be had five receptions for 58 yards with a score.
“Simeon is going to be better this year than he was last year,” Gilbert said. “He’s more confident, he’s stronger, he’s gotten faster and I think he’s just matured more. I’m excited to see where he’s at. Not only are you going to see him in the same role as he was last year as a quarterback but you’re going to see his role as a receiver progress. I think he’s going to provide us something with being able to take the top off of defenses that we haven’t had.”
It’s easy to see why Gilbert is excited with his two developed quarterbacks, but he didn’t hesitate to tap the brakes a bit.
“Both guys are going to be better than who they were last year which ultimately and hopefully make us better as an offense,” Gilbert said. “We’re pretty comfortable right now at quarterback. I’m not saying we’re satisfied. I don’t want anybody to get those two words confused. We’re never satisfied, but we’re comfortable with where we’re at. We know we have a long ways to go to get to the goals we want to obtain.”