When Taylor Perkins contacted the University of Sioux Falls (S.D.) coaching staff two years ago, he was pitching himself as a safety.
The former high school and junior college quarterback was playing in the secondary at New Mexico State University and thought he'd like to play the same position at USF.
It appears putting Perkins back under center was a good call by the Cougars' coaching staff.
Submitted Photo • University of Sioux Falls (S.D.) senior quarterback Taylor Perkins is guiding the Cougars to a smooth transition in NCAA Division II football. Photo courtesy of USF sports information.
The 6-foot-1, 210-pound senior from Mesa, Ariz., has led USF to a 2-0 start, completing 38-of-63 passes for 424 yards, six touchdowns and one interception. Perkins and USF play Minot State University (0-2) at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at Herb Parker Stadium. Both programs are first-year members of NCAA Division II and the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.
"Mentally, (Perkins is) into the game as far as wanting to get better," third-year USF coach Jed Stugart said. "He watches a lot of film and he's an accurate passer. I don't think he would label himself as just an athlete only."
Perkins was instrumental in the Cougars' season-opening upset of then-No. 16 St. Cloud State (Minn.). He completed 25-of-42 passes for 254 yards and three touchdowns in USF's 32-19 win.
"(Stugart) doing that gave me confidence that we will throw 40-50 times in a game if we have to," Perkins said. "He felt like that was a top-ranked team and they had a great defense and they flew to the ball, but we felt like there were some things we could exploit in the passing game and we did that."
Perkins, who became the starting quarterback midway through last season, said he's developed solid chemistry with his receivers. Junior receiver Carrington Hanna leads the team with 13 catches for 201 yards and four touchdowns, and senior wideout/kick returner Jeremiah Oates has 10 receptions and leads the Cougars with an average of 124 all-purpose yards per game.
"I always feel like a perfect route and perfect thrown ball can beat any coverage, and that's what I expect out of my receivers and expect out of myself," Perkins said.
MSU coach Paul Rudolph said Perkins "looks like he's really stepped up his game accuracy-wise," and that the Beavers need to throw him off rhythm to limit his effectiveness.
"You just gotta disrupt timing as much as you can," Rudolph said. "There are a couple of ways - pressuring him and altering routes."
The MSU defense limited its first two opponents to a 43 percent completion rate and less than 170 passing yards per game, but the Beavers have yet to snare an interception. MSU has been vulnerable to mobile quarterbacks - Minnesota State-Mankato's trio rushed for more than 120 yards in the Beavers' season opener - and Perkins, the former Division I safety, can certainly move.
"We do have designed runs for me and things like that, so I can use my legs and run around," Perkins said. "It's not a necessity, but we'll use it."
After watching Perkins' old film, Stugart said he was impressed by how well Perkins played behind a porous offensive line at Mesa Community College (Ariz.).
"He was in a tough situation at his junior college and he was still pretty productive," Stugart said. "I think he's had a lot more fun playing in a position where he's protected. He hasn't been sacked this year yet so he's having a little more pleasant experience with that."
How well the Beavers limit Perkins on Saturday will go a long way toward determining whether homecoming is a pleasant experience for MSU.