first_imgUsually, when a team’s starting quarterback goes down with an injury, there is a big drop in production when the backup comes in.Unfortunately for the Wisconsin Badgers football team, this is not the case for San Diego State head coach Chuck Long. With starter Kevin O’Connell out for a few weeks after undergoing surgery, Darren Mougey will get a chance that he has wanted from day one of training camp, freshman year — a chance to start — and for him Saturday cannot come soon enough.Mougey, a sophomore from Scottsdale, Ariz., will make the first start of his collegiate career against the Badgers. After redshirting his freshman year and backing up O’Connell for much of 2005 and the start of this season, Mougey will finally get the opportunity to display the talent that earned him SuperPrep All-American honors, and he will do it in front of a hostile Camp Randall crowd.”I’m really excited for the opportunity,” Mougey said at an Aztec press conference Tuesday. “I’ve been here for a couple years now and gotten some playing experience, but this is my first real test. I’m excited for my first test to be a big test against (one of) the best in Wisconsin. I’m excited to prove to my teammates, myself and this community that I can play at this level.”In his most recent performance, Mougey proved not only that he could play at the D-I, but that he could dominate as well. Mougey came on for the injured O’Connell midway through the third quarter with his team trailing 27-3 against Texas-El Paso and led his team on three consecutive scoring drives, capping two with touchdown runs of his own. Despite the furious comeback, the Aztecs fell short 34-27. For the game, Mougey completed 12 of 16 passes for 178 yards and ran for another 41. Against a Wisconsin team that has struggled defending mobile quarterbacks, coaches expect big things out of Mougey.”We think it’s an advantage to have a quarterback that can move around — that can do some damage with his legs as well as his arm, and Darren can do that,” Aztecs head coach Chuck Long said in a phone interview.While his running ability may leave the Badgers linebackers bewildered, it’s his size and athletic ability that sets him apart. At 6-6, 230 pounds, Mougey is the complete package. In fact after O’Connell was named the starter in training camp — albeit in a tight race — and Mougey remained the backup, Long was concerned that Mougey’s running ability, size and athleticism were going to waste. Coach Long tried him out as a wide receiver.”He’s so athletic that we feel like we need to get him on the field somehow, someway,” Long said. “You know we want to put our best players and athletes out there and he was one of them. He was a top-22 athlete for us on the team, so we did [just] that. But since he’s been a quarterback, those days are over now.”Although the experiment didn’t last long, it shows just how valuable Mougey is to the Aztecs. Before thoughts of trying Mougey at wideout trickled into coach Long’s head, the sophomore was putting up a heck of a fight for the starting role.”Darren was really sharp all the way through training camp so much so that I felt like ‘OK, we have two guys here … and we had to name a starter in Kevin O’Connell, but we felt like we had a 1A and a 1B as opposed to a one and a two,” Long said. “That’s how close Darren was, as far as being behind Kevin in terms of production and what he did during training camp.”Over the past two weeks the gap between the two Aztec quarterbacks — if there ever was one — has all but disappeared. Since Mougey took over the starting role, he has the opportunity to get the reps in practice that he could not get as the backup. The impressive thing about it, according to Long, is that he has picked up the system and commanded the huddle very well in such a short time starting.For now, coach Long is just pleased that he doesn’t have to worry about keeping a phenomenal athlete on the sidelines.The only thing left on Mougey’s agenda now is to guide his team to victory over a heavily favored Wisconsin team.”It would be huge for this team and this program [to beat the Badgers],” Mougey said. “These types of games put us on the map — get us some recognition and respect.”last_img