Steve Franz / LSU Sports Information
Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2008 | 7:02 p.m.
- Andrew Hatch evaluating his performance in 2008.
- Andrew Hatch discusses what it will take to succeed at LSU
- Andrew Hatch on the start of his season at LSU.
- Andrew Hatch talks about splitting playing time with freshman Jarrett Lee
It's been a long wait for Andrew Hatch, but worth it.
The Henderson resident hadn't regularly competed in football games since he played quarterback for Cimarron-Memorial as a senior in the fall of 2004. Now he finds himself on the field competing at the highest level of college football for defending national champion LSU. Hatch has played in four of the Tigers' five games of the season, starting three of them.
"It's wild," Hatch said. "I've been pretty happy with how I've been playing. I've been getting some experience and will look to continue to improve from here."
After graduating Cimarron, Hatch joined Harvard's football team in 2005, but left after a year for a church mission in Chile. The mission was cut short after he suffered a torn meniscus in his knee during a pick-up soccer game.
When he was rehabbing the knee in spring of 2007, Hatch's father received a call from Gary Crowton, who had recruited Hatch to play at BYU out of high school and had just accepted the offensive coordinator position with LSU.
Crowton said LSU was short on quarterbacks and asked Hatch to walk on, Hatch earned a scholarship that fall, and after the graduation of quarterback Matt Flynn and the dismissal of Ryan Perrilloux, he found himself in a two-man competition with redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee to be the Tigers' starter.
Neither was named the full-time starter and both have played consistently this season, a situation Hatch said he is fine with.
"Jarrett and I are good friends and we get along well. We help each other out with different things we see," Hatch said. "We both care about doing what's best for the team. We are both getting a chance to play and it's good for the team that way since we're both new and young."
Hatch has completed 21 of 40 passes for 250 yards and a touchdown and has rushed for 115 yards and two touchdowns on 24 attempts.
The fact Hatch has become a scrambling quarterback at LSU comes as a surprise to Ron Smeltzer, who coached Hatch at Coronado in 2001 and 2002 and again at Cimarron in 2004. Hatch transferred to Cimarron for his senior year.
"We ended up changing our offense his senior year at Cimarron to throw more because I think he has a great arm," Smeltzer said. "I thought when he graduated here that was the level of football he should be playing at anyhow. He is an extremely intelligent individual and is very calm. Nothing rattles him."
After starting and winning his first three collegiate games, Hatch endured a setback when he suffered a concussion at Auburn on Sept. 20. He was accidentally kneed in the head by his own lineman and was forced to leave the game. Hatch didn't play the following week against Mississippi State.
But after continuing to recover during a bye week, he returned to the field against Florida Oct. 11 and scored one of three LSU touchdowns during a 51-21 loss, its first of the season.
Hatch's father, Wendell, said it has been satisfying to see his son finally playing major college football.
"He always believed in his ability, but there is a lot of good players out there that never get to this point so we feel fortunate," Wendell Hatch said. "He just continued to develop his abilities and pursue a chance to play. But I think we've learned to take things one day at a time and not look too far ahead."
Hatch said regardless if he is called on to start or take the field in the middle of the game, he will continue to prepare the same. He added he is thrilled to compete again, much less for one of the most storied programs in college football, where 90,000 regularly show up to watch his team compete.
"It's been an awesome feeling to be back out on the field," Hatch said. "I'm just excited to keep playing."
Christopher Drexel can be reached at 990-8929 or [email protected].