Efficient is probably the best way to describe Michael Hiers’ first four games as the Samford quarterback.

He’s completed 84 of 122 passes, which is a 69% completion rate. He’s averaging 242 passing yards per game and has thrown 12 touchdowns with just one interception. It took him 114 passes before he threw that interception. And the interception, which came on Saturday in the 35-12 win over Western Carolina, wasn’t really his fault.

“The interception, he got hit,” said Samford coach Chris Hatcher, whose team travels this week to play Furman in another Southern Conference game. “We had a double move out there and Kendall (Watson), he was going to be wide open. We had a big play and he got hit in the arm. Those are tough things that happen.”

Overall, though, Hiers had another strong day in the win over Western Carolina. Through four games, he is ranked ninth in the nation in passing efficiency.

“He’s a tough player, a really smart player and he’s been playing well, especially when we need him to in crucial situations,” Hatcher said.

Take away the 33-0 loss to Georgia and his numbers are more impressive. In three games against FCS opponents, all Samford victories, he is 71 of 101, which is a 70% completion rate, for 908 yards and 12 touchdowns. He’s thrown four touchdown passes in each of those games.

He’s been sharp in the fourth quarter of both games that came down to the end. In the season-opening win over then nationally ranked Kennesaw State, he was 10-of-11 for 178 yards with two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Samford won the fourth quarter, 13-0, and won the game 27-17. Two games later, he was 10-of-14 for 84 yards with the game-winning 26-yard touchdown pass to Chandler Smith with 25 seconds left at Tennessee Tech

This is the type of production that Hatcher thought could be coming from the 6-foot-1, 211-pound junior, who played at nearby Briarwood Christian High before starring for two seasons at Northwest Mississippi Community College.  He passed for 4,519 yards and 34 touchdowns in 18 junior college games.

Hiers competed with Kentucky transfer Nik Scalzo in the spring and the first few days of fall camp. Scalzo tore knee ligaments early in camp and is out for the year. Redshirt freshman Quincy Crittendon is the backup quarterback.

The approach to the offense is relatively simple on paper.

“We just got to move the chains,” Hiers said. “Once we move the chains, we are very efficient and effective. Sometimes we get stagnant, that’s what we got to get better at.”

Hatcher pointed a finger at himself for some of the stagnant moments in the second and third quarters on Saturday. The Bulldogs went about 19 minutes between touchdowns against an active Western Carolina defense.

“I got to do a better job of putting us [in] positions as an offense,” Hatcher said. “We’re just very inconsistent right now, in what we do. When we get our tempo going, we’re hard to stop. We had a hard time getting first downs there at the end of the second quarter and the beginning of the third.”

Hiers said the amount of offensive options he can utilize makes it easy for him. Smith has been tremendous with 18 catches for 263 yards with six touchdowns. Watson also serves as a go-to receiver with 18 catches for 239 yards with two touchdowns. Overall, 11 different players have caught at least one pass and six players have scored a receiving touchdown. Running backs Jay Stanton and Jaylan Thomas also take pressure off with a steady running game.

“Trying to get better every week – do some good things, some bad things,” Hiers said of his play thus far. “I’m trying to eliminate those bad things and do more good things, if that makes sense. Try to get better each week and keep helping our team win”

Hiers was asked if the Bulldogs, who are ranked as high as 21st in the country, have played their best game thus far.

“Absolutely not, we’re going to keep getting better,” Hiers said. “Early in the season, right? It’s only game four. We got a bunch of new dudes, new transfers and still kind of getting a feel for each other. I definitely think the best is yet to come.”

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email steve.irvine@1819news.com.

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