Wichita Force

Force’s Martinez taps QB network

Replacing the quarterback has become part of Force coach Paco Martinez’s job description.

He did so almost weekly last season, when injuries forced the team to use eight quarterbacks in 12 regular-season games. This year has offered no reprieve, as starter Stephen Panasuk signed this week with Cleveland of the Arena Football League.

The Force signed David Olson and Jeffrey Legree to replace Panasuk, the kind of transaction Martinez is now reluctantly comfortable making.

“That’s one of the things that us as a team and me as a coach, we dealt with that a lot last year,” Martinez said. “Having to replace one quarterback (Panasuk) wasn’t that big of a deal. I was in a much worse situation last year, further down the line in the season.”

Last season was eye-opening for Martinez, who said he worked diligently during the offseason to create deeper and more extensive connections with players in case the roster was similarly depleted again. He was also prepared for the possibility that Panasuk would be promoted.

Those networks led Martinez to Olson, who transferred to Clemson in 2015 after three years at Stanford. Olson never threw a pass at Stanford and entered one game for Clemson last season, but just being part of those highly ranked teams legitimized him in Martinez’s eyes.

“He looks like a high-level quarterback,” Martinez said. “He went to Stanford and didn’t play much and then transferred to Clemson and didn’t play much. But he has film of him running scout team and I could see the throws.

“A lot of people look at him and say, ‘Oh, he was a backup and didn’t even play in college.’ He was on pretty good teams backing up guys that were pretty good. It’s all about just finding talent. You can tell from his scout-team (footage) that he has an understanding of the defense.”

Martinez said the Force will simplify the offense and likely use both new quarterbacks. The reduced schemes and formations won’t, Martinez said, hamper the holdovers, whose strengths will remain addressed.

“It’s just identifying,” Martinez said. “We’re going to move (receiver and kick returner) Clarence Anderson around some more – he’s usually our set receiver but we’re going to put him more in motion this week than we have been.

“We see some matchups with (Chicago’s) defensive backs that we are going to try to take advantage of. We’re going to make sure that they’re doing what we think they’re going to do and eventually find those matchups at the right time to expose what we see as a weakness in their defense.”

Chicago at Force

  • When: 7:05 p.m. Saturday
  • Where: Intrust Bank Arena
  • Records: Chicago 2-5, Force 5-2
  • Radio: KNSS, 1330-AM