Even though Ben Anderson will head into the 2012 season as the reigning Southwestern Athletic Conference Freshman of the Year, Arkansas-Pine Bluff head coach Monte Coleman preached patience when speaking about the quarterback during SWAC Media Day.
Last season was a roller coaster ride for not only Anderson, but the Golden Lions as a team. Through the first five games of the regular season, UAPB was atop the Western Division thanks in large part to the play of Anderson (who would go onto finish up with 1,876 yards, 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions).
Down the stretch — with a possible berth in the conference title game on the line — it was a totally different story. During a 1-4 slide from Oct. 1 to Nov. 5, Anderson averaged 178 yards per game while throwing four touchdowns and three interceptions. However, in three of those five games, the then freshman didn’t register a touchdown pass, including in back-to-back games against Alabama A&M and Jackson State.
The failures were all part of the growing pains that go along with cutting your teeth as a young signal-caller. But Coleman, who has been around the block a few times, understands quarterbacks need to be nurtured to succeed.
“He was very green, very young last year,” Coleman said about Anderson. “Ben will be a very good quarterback for us this season. He had to mature. That is what we needed him to do.”
The coaching staff believes Anderson can help lead the six other returning offensive starters from a frustrating 6-5 second-place finish in 2011 to a championship come December.
“You have to be patient. We have to be patient with him,” the head coach continued. “Hopefully every year he will get better.”
Can Anderson take the next step in 2012?