Mac Caputi ’15 always knew that if he kept his grades up, he could eventually have the opportunity to play quarterback for his father. Although he matriculated to Bowdoin as a football and lacrosse player, the coach’s son hasn’t had it any easier playing football under Head Coach Dave Caputi.
Mac Caputi maintains it does not change the player-coach relationship.
“It doesn’t matter,” he said. “On Saturdays, I try to talk to him only as a coach.”
Mac Caputi started playing football in middle school and has always been a quarterback, though he had always thought of himself as a lacrosse player first. Now, he has worked on striking a balance between both.
Caputi came in as a third-string quarterback on the Polar Bears, although team injuries forced him into action for the last four games of his first year. He completed more than 40 percent of his passes only once. As a sophomore, he saw some reps at wide receiver and started the team’s final two games against Bates and Colby. He performed well against Bates, going 19-for-30 on pass attempts but completed only 6-for-15 against Colby, a game he acknowledges was one of his worst performances.
This year, Caputi challenged incumbent quarterback Tommy Romero ’14 for the starting job and won it after the first game. He started for the next three games, and has gone 2-1 since taking the helm.
“I wanted to win [the starting job],” Mac Caputi said, “or at least make it competitive. Either way, the team would be better off I worked to get better at QB.”
After struggling early against Middlebury and Amherst, Caputi has settled in, throwing for 178 and 182 yards in wins over Tufts and Hamilton, respectively. Last weekend, while hosting Hamilton, he threw two first-half touchdown passes to give Bowdoin a three-score lead at halftime. The first touchdown occurred on the first drive of the game after a 48-yard strike to Dan Barone ’16. As the season has progressed, Caputi’s average yards per pass have greatly increased, a sign of a quarterback who does not fear going for the big play.
Still, the team tries to keep its offense as balanced as possible, a strategy that Mac Caputi certainly buys into.
“Throwing the ball is fun,” he said, “But if I need to throw it 50 times to win, or ten times, I can do either.”
The presence of running back Zach Donnarumma ’14, who is averaging 92 rushing yards per game, makes it unlikely that Caputi will ever approach 50 throws in a game.
“Zach is the catalyst of our offense.” Barone said. “When he’s running well, it really opens up the pass.”
Caputi throws a number of his passes out of play action, preying on defenses’ fear of being burned by Donnarumma. This bodes well for the team’s matchup at undefeated Trinity, who Mac Caputi and Barone both said could be susceptible to the run. The game will be played at Trinity, however, where the Bantams boast a 49-game winning streak.
“It has to end at some point,” Mac Caputi said. “It’s exciting to go down there and have a chance to do that.”
Even though Donnarumma will likely be the opening act for the Bowdoin offense, Caputi is more than just a game manager.
“He’s making reads on every play,” Barone said. “We don’t have many plays where one guy is always getting the ball.”
Caputi has indeed spread the ball around, as nine Polar Bear receivers have caught at least one pass this season, with no one receiver catching more than 24 percent of the team’s total receptions. All of Bowdoin’s top five pass-catchers are within seven catches and 55 yards of one another.
Mac Caputi has a lot of confidence even though the team has not beaten a team with a winning record to this point. However, he also understands as a quarterback what his role is in the team’s 2-2 record.
“We feel confident enough that we can beat a 0-4 defense or a 4-0 one,” he said. “The difference [between the first two games and the last two games] is I wasn’t making the throws [in the first two].”
However, the win streak still matters to the Polar Bears.
“Against any team it’s easier going in with a two game winning streak, feeling like winners, than with a two game losing streak feeling like losers,” Mac Caputi said.
The sports editor of the Orient chooses the Athlete of the Week based on exemplary performance.