Brain Ball - Inside the mind of quarterback Canaan Gebele ’19, who led Denison Big Red to the NCAC title

Winter 2019 - Hill - Sports - Brain Ball

Inside the mind of quarterback Canaan Gebele ’19, who led Denison Big Red to the NCAC title.

Canaan Gebele likes having options, which makes him a perfect fit for a Denison offense that’s built on them. The Big Red’s senior quarterback ended the 2018 season with 33 career starts and some impressive numbers: 7,608 career passing yards, 41 touchdown passes, and another 2,420 yards and 33 TDs as a rusher. His ability to torment defenses with his arm or his legs might be the biggest reason Denison’s offense averaged 38 points per game the past two seasons. But given the complex nature of the Big Red offense, Gebele’s most potent tool might be his mind. Running the “spread pistol” requires not only a versatile quarterback, but a smart one, capable of changing play calls based on the defensive alignment or of executing option plays in which he decides to hand off, run, or throw only after the ball is snapped. Offensive coordinator Austin Holter calls him an “enormously smart kid.” After hearing Gebele explain the secrets to running an explosive offense, we agree.

Be a Film Buff
“There’s so much strategy that goes into football, and so much of that is time spent off the field,” Gebele says. Mostly, that means hours each week in the film room studying the tendencies of an opposing defense. By Saturday, he’ll know that defense’s weakness and how to exploit it.

Find the Balance
Experience has made Gebele an expert at spreading the offensive wealth, equally adept at keeping the ball—he came into the season with 381 career carries—or distributing it. “It’s about taking what the defense gives you,” he says. “There’s no feeling like scoring yourself, but it’s most fun when you’re getting your guys involved—like playing in the backyard when you were kids.”

Be the Boss
For Gebele, the essence of playing quarterback is pretty simple: “You’ve got to be a commander out there.” As he defines the role, it’s about supreme confidence and mutual trust between himself and his teammates, with a single shared goal: “Parties in the end zone.”

Published December 2018