Tarleton State University sophomore quarterback Zed Woerner (7) calls for the ball from senior center Will McLane. Woerner, a former Marble Falls High School quarterback, set a single-game passing record for the Texans in a 56-49 loss to Texas A&M University-Commerce on Nov. 8. Photo by Jeff Smith/TSU Athletic Communications
JENNIFER FIERRO • PICAYUNE STAFF
STEPHENVILLE — When Tarleton State University sophomore quarterback Zed Woerner got his chance, he made the most of it.
in his first collegiate start, Woerner, a 2012 Marble Falls High School graduate, set a single-game passing record for the Texans (5-5) by throwing for 470 yards and three touchdowns in a 56-49 loss to Texas A&M University-Commerce on Nov. 8. He completed 41 of 56 passes.
“I didn’t know what happened until after the game,” he said. “We were trying to win. When you have big receivers and offensive line making plays, they facilitate that.”
The game came down to the last play in the first round of the Lone Star Conference Football Playoffs. With 67 seconds remaining, the Texans took over at their own 15. Woerner completed his first pass of the drive for 24 yards to Clifton Rhodes III and his second for 11 yards to LeNard Meyers to get to the Commerce 45.
After an incompletion, Woerner found Meyers for 22 yards. A roughing-the-passer penalty and a defensive pass interference call moved the Texans to the Lions’ 2-yard line to set up the dramatic last play. The Tarleton run play went for no gain.
The Texans’ season ended with a 44-41 win against Midwestern State University on Nov. 15. Woerner threw for 316 yards and a touchdown, completing 20 of 33 passes.
He said the reason he was able to finish so well is because he got some valuable minutes as the backup quarterback in the 80-14 win against Texas A&M-Kingsville on Oct. 11. In that game, he completed seven of nine passes for 62 yards and a touchdown.
When starting quarterback Collin Strahan went down with a shoulder injury on the second play of the game against Angelo State University on Nov. 1, Woerner was confident. He finished that game completing 31 of 44 passes for 302 yards and a touchdown in a 34-31 loss. The Texans led 24-13 going into the final quarter.
Strahan played during the 64-7 win against McMurry University on Oct. 25. But he would not play against Angelo State the following week. So Woerner got his first career start.
Because he is the son of former Marble Falls High School head football coach Cord Woerner, the quarterback said he followed the same routine he’s always had, even when he wasn’t starting: lots of film study, reviewing notes, watching for tendencies and demonstrating confidence and a positive attitude for his teammates.
“The quarterbacks are (at the training facility) all the time,” he said. “We spend 20 to 21 hours on film alone. That’s not counting practice. There’s a lot of preparation going into it. You have to know a whole lot about the defense. It’s a different level. There’s no weak links on the field.”
One of the major differences between high school and college football is that, at the lower level, a defense might have one or two players capable of making a play, Woerner said. On the next level, all 11 players have that ability, he said.
“You can’t go out there and play without knowing who they are,” he said of the amount of preparation. “You have to see (things) before every play to have a good idea of what they’re doing.”
Though he is a sophomore when it comes to eligibility, Woerner said he is a senior in the classroom.
“You’re with those guys seven days out of the week,” he said. “It’s a job, it’s a business. It’s still fun and it’s still football, but it’s more of a business. You have to take care of your end when the baton is passed.”
Woerner credits his teammates for his passing record, noting it takes the offensive line and the running backs and receivers to make plays work. He said there’s a trust they all have in each other to do their jobs.
He also credited Strahan for his success. The quarterbacks are a tight-knit group, which includes former Burnet standout Derek Kiser. Because Kiser played in a very similar offense at Burnet, he is very knowledgeable, Woerner said.
Now, the former Mustang is trying to do for the younger quarterbacks what the upperclassmen did for him. He is sharing information and helping them prepare to get ready to play college football.
Strahan, who Woerner calls a great friend, still has a year of eligibility remaining, so it’s unclear what will happen in the spring.
“We have a good group of quarterbacks,” he said. “They’re all great guys and great quarterbacks.”