Author: Ryan Whalen
When Occidental quarterbacks coach Darnell Arceneaux and quarterback Bryan Scott (junior) both arrived at Occidental two years ago, neither could predict that their eventual bond would be a major factor in the Tigers’ back-to-back winning records.
But by the completion of their first season, the partnership was already paying off. Scott was named 2013 second-team All-SCIAC selection and the 2013 Newcomer of the Year. Scott attributes this success to the countless after-practice drills and film sessions led by Arceneux.
“When [Scott] first got here, and when I first got a chance to look at his motion in person, his footwork was bad and his motion was a little sporadic. There was a lot of work to be done,” Arceneaux said. “But even though there was so much for him to work on, he was prepared to put in the time and effort.”
Moving from high school to college football, Scott shifted from an offense that passed 15 times a game to one that threw the ball 40 times a night — though the move to Occidental also marked the first time Scott had a specialized quarterback coach to help him progress. Still, that help usually came in the form of tough love. According to Scott, Arceneaux was there after every play, telling him what he missed or needed to correct.
“My first year, he was really tough on me, but [Arcenceaux] has always said that if he is hard on you, he knows you can be a good player,” Scott said.
With All-SCIAC selection and veteran quarterback Tommy Edwards ’15 listed as the starting quarterback at the start of the 2013-14, it appeared that Scott would have plenty of time to work on his mechanics and learn how to pick out defensive coverages used by opposing SCIAC teams. However, partway through the third game of the season, Edwards went down with a season-ending injury, thrusting Scott into a quarterback competition with Tom Stivers ’14.
By the end of the week, Scott beat out Stivers and earned himself the opportunity to lead the Occidental offense against Whittier College. Despite playing on the road against a conference opponent, Scott turned in a solid performance, passing for 222 yards, while throwing and running for a touchdown.
“People look from the outside and say ‘congrats, a first-year gets to start because Tommy [Edwards] went down’, but to me it was just a lot of pressure because I had to lead a group of men who were 22 and I had just turned 18,” Scott said. “Coach Arcenceaux really just led the way for me. Every week we would watch film after hours. He really took me in a showed me the ropes.”
With Scott established as the Tigers starting quarterback, Arceneaux and the other coaches made it clear that he did not have to carry the team alone. Starting running back Kwame Do (senior) ran for more than 1300 yards during the 2013 season and wide receiver Sam Stekol ’15 had 826 yards of receiving, while the defense forced 20 turnovers during the campaign.
Although his position as the Occidental quarterbacks coach was his first stint in collegiate coaching, Arceneaux had already accumulated years of football knowledge as both a coach and a player. He was the Hawaii Athlete of the Year in 1995, quarterback for the University of Utah between 1996-2000 and was named the high school coach of the year in 2012. His passion for the sport continues at Occidental.
“You can definitely still tell that he has a love and compassion for the sport, and during practice you can definitely see his competitiveness,” wide receiver Cordell Harris (junior) said. “There are even times during practice when he will start throwing in the drills and jokes about if he only had one more year of eligibility.”
While the interactions between Arceneaux and players primarily occur during practice — and retain a fairly strict player-coach dynamic — Arceneaux’s relationship with Scott and the rest of the Occidental players is not always about X’s and O’s. He stays involved in the players’ daily lives and is never short of jokes.
“Football is such a neat sport in that you can get away, there is only a short time in which they are able to play, so we always have a good time, especially in the film room,” Arceneaux said. “Our film meetings are just hysterical sometimes; we get our work done, but we are always laughing.”
Working with Arceneaux has paid off for Scott, as he has progressively improved over the past two years. In his first game under center this season, Scott passed for 421 yards and five touchdowns en route to 46-41 victory. During his first-year campaign, he threw for 1426 yards and 11 touchdowns, while he passed for 1998 yards and 17 touchdowns in his second year. In his first game under center this season, Scott passed for 421 yards and five touchdowns en route to 46-41 victory. But, perhaps more importantly, his teammates have also noted a steady progression in his leadership abilities in addition to his statistics.
“[Scott] understands the pre-snap reads and can anticipate the routes and coverages,” Harris said. “His mechanics have also gotten a lot better, he has gotten into better shape and overall just improved as a football player.”
With both Arceneaux and Scott entering their third years in the Occidental program and continuing to strengthen their rapport, the Tigers seem poised for another season of offensive superiority.
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