QB battle could last longer than planned

The plan as of just a few days ago was to narrow down the quarterback race to just two players. The Cats have four passers competing right now and as recently as Saturday the coaches had said they wanted to clarify the race.

Change of plans.

The Cats will chose the top two at some point, but don't look for it to happen until next week.

"We're going to wait until the final week, give them three more days to compete and see where it takes us," Mike Stoops said. "It's hard for them to get in a groove too by changing them. Somebody's got to separate themselves."

All four quarterbacks showed flashes during the last Saturday's scrimmage, but no one stood out enough to claim the job. Three of the four passers threw interceptions and only Richard Kovalcheck led the team to a score.

"They are all doing some good things," Stoops confessed. "They all show signs of being able to be the guy. We just want to be fair. We don't want to slight anybody and make sure we give them all an opportunity, a fair shot at it, so they feel good about it too. That's important."

It is a delicate situation. Three of the four started at least one game last season, and all were highly rated quarterbacks. Kovalcheck, who redshirtted a year ago, turned down an offer by Tennessee, while the rest looked at schools like Oregon, Notre Dame, Purdue and Texas Tech.

To make the situation even harder, no two quarterbacks are the same type of player. Junior Nic Costa came from an option scheme in high school and works much better when he can use his speed to make plays. Kovalcheck comes from a pass happy high school with a pro-style offense. Kris Heavner played small school ball in Texas where he was allowed to freelance and use his athletic ability to dominate less skilled opponents. Ryan O'Hara is a tall, speedy passer who runs remarkably well for someone that is 6-6.

Another sticking point in the evaluation process is the fact that the players have not been exposed to the entire offense, much less had a chance to digest all of the nuances. In many ways they are being given the final exam midway through a semester.

Stoops and the offensive staff recognize that the players have had a number of obstacles in trying to outshine their competitors.

"It's hard when you're trying to implement so much and to learn as you go," Stoops said. "It's a very difficult process for all the quarterbacks. Just to communicate every thing they have to communicate is very difficult. I don't know that it is imperative that we do (name the top-two). We'd like to, but if we can't, we can't."

With a roster of diverse talents, one might wonder just what are the coaches looking for? Stoops may not know who will be calling the signals next fall, but he does know what he wants from his quarterback.

"Consistently get us into the right things we need to get into," Stoops explained. "To protect the ball, to move the chains and just play consistently and within the confines of our offense. We don't need him to do anything dynamic, we just need him to be solid and just lead this team, and lead us. Consistency is what you look for in a quarterback."

While the timetable for naming the top two has been wiped out, there is no debate that eventually a starter must be named. Don't expect that announcement to happen before camp breaks. In fact it may not happen until the week of the NAU game. "When it is all said and done we probably won't feel like announcing anybody until a week or ten days before our first game," Stoops said. "It's an important decision. We have to find the right guy that can do what we need him to do."

NOTES

*The team had five kickers come by after practice to try out for the team. They were asked to both place kick and kick off. A few of them showed impressive legs.

*Coaches for Sunnyside, Flowing Wells and Salpointe came by practice. Salpointe's Ian Brinker, a top offensive line recruit, was one of 10 Lancer players to drop by practice.


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