University of Incarnate Word coach Larry Kennan is known as a quarterback guru having been around a variety of good ones during 30-year coaching career that included stints with the Oakland Raiders, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts, London Monarchs, Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots.
He knows a good quarterback when he sees him.
And he has high praise for the University of Central Arkansas’ Wynrick Smothers, the returning Offensive Player of the Year in the Southland Conference.
“He may be the best quarterback in FCS football in the country and there can’t be many more on any level better,” he said. “I love quarterbacks and I’ll love being on the same field with him. I just hope we can slow him down a little bit.”
Kennan, who left his post as executive director of the NFL Players Association last year to take over UIW’s young football program, will be on the opposite sideline Thursday night at First Security Field at Estes Stadium when both teams open the season.
What does Smothers, who passed for 3,103 yards last season and ran for 449 more, do well?
“Everything,” said Kennan. “He throws well, he makes great decisions, he throws the the ball in the right spots and he can run,” Kennan said. “When you have a quarterback with good receivers and good players around him, it just makes him better. He’s the real deal.”
Incarnate Word, situated in San Antonio, started football in 2009 as an NCAA Division II independent then spent the last three years as a member of the Lone Star Conference, compiling records of 3-8, 2-8, 2-9. As a new member of NCAA FCS and the Southland Conference, it will play a limited SLC schedule this season before playing a full conference schedule next year.
“We have an outstanding young group of players, but they are awfully young,” said Kennan. “We’re a football team with really good freshmen playing a against a team that has really good juniors and seniors.”
“In all first games, every coach in the country is concerned about whether you have covered all the details, all the special situations, the rule changes and everything that might happen in a game,” Conque said. “A team like UIW gives you some special challenges since we haven’t played them and don’t know a whole lot about them. They have several freshmen and transfers that there is no video on. So, it will probably be a feeling-out process to start the game. But we’ll find out a lot about our team Thursday night.”
Conque and Kennan are familiar with each other.
“When I had my cup of coffee playing professionally with the Oakland Raiders, Larry Kennan was the quarterback coach,” Conque said.
“Once a Raider always a Raider,” Kennan said. “Of course, in those days I had no idea I would ever coach against him. While I was executive director of the NFL Players Association, I admired what he did in the progression of his program. At one point, they were once in the position we are in transitioning from Division II to Division I. I liked how he has done things the right way in building a program over time.
“I’m impressed with Clint’s ability to put a team together.”
The game is the first football game of the season in the state and Conque has campaigned for several weeks for a record crowd in excess of 13,000.
“This is the first game and as hungry for football as people are around here, in a city of 65,000, we ought to be able to get 13,000 at Estes Stadium,” he said.