Accuracy key to Duncan’s 2021 season, Tarleton’s starting QB for all 11 games
STEPHENVILLE — There are several key components in the make-up of high-caliber quarterbacks. Some are obvious purely looking at film, such as arm strength, accuracy, pocket awareness and decision-making. And some aren't as obvious from an outside perspective, like leadership and work ethic.
For Tarleton's starting quarterback all of last season, Steven Duncan flashed all of those attributes. It seems that none were more important than straight accuracy when it came to the Texans' success in 2021.
Duncan started all 11 games at QB for Tarleton, leading the Texans to a 6-5 record, their fifth straight winning season. He completed 188-of-301 (.625) passes for 2,505 yards, 19 touchdowns, and nine interceptions, plus had 121 rushing yards on 44 attempts with a rushing touchdown.
His .625 completion percentage was fifth-highest in a single-season in team history (minimum 150 attempts). Across the Western Athletic Conference, he had the third highest completion percentage.
Duncan's best stretch of play came after the bye week, starting Oct. 16 at Dixie State. On his first three drives of the game, he led the Texans on three 67+ yard touchdown drives. He finished the 41-20 win completing 21-of-30 passes for 299 yards, three touchdowns, and no turnovers. Across four games from Oct. 16 through Nov. 6, Duncan led Tarleton to three wins over Dixie State, Midwestern State and Lamar, the only loss coming at the hands to the No. 1 ranked Sam Houston. He threw for 1,163 yards (82-of-128, .641) and 11 touchdowns, with just one turnover, an interception against the Cardinals. During that stretch, he had 105 straight passing attempts without an interception.
Looking at the correlation between Duncan's accuracy and Tarleton's success, it's what you might expect. When Duncan completed less than 60 percent of his passes, the Texans went 1-3. When Duncan had multiple turnovers, Tarleton went 0-4. But when talking about a player who finished with a top-five completion percentage in program history, those games were more rare than common.
Duncan's best game came against the No. 1 Bearkats on Oct. 30, throwing for a career-high 403 yards on a 25-of-43 (.581) clip, plus a tied-season-high four touchdowns and no turnovers. His 403 passing yards against Sam Houston was the 11th 400-yard game in team history and the first since Ben Holmes had one in 2019. It was the first of two straight 300+ yard games, the first such streak of his career. It was also his second 4+ touchdown game, his first coming against Southern Utah on Sept. 18 at Choctaw Stadium in Arlington.
Overall on the season, Duncan finished with the tied-13th most touchdown passes in a single-season in team history at 19, third most in the WAC, including six multi-TD games. He was named to the Phil Steele FCS All-WAC Third Team for his efforts.