Commentary - Quarterback Competition?

The Tour De France uses a green jersey to identify the top sprinter in the overall standings. Who knows if Coach Ed Orgeron is a fan of cycling, but he also implements a green jersey, which has its own distinct significance – to distinguish a leader in the race for the starting quarterback.

Orgeron continually refers to the quarterback competition as a marathon instead of a sprint, but Seth Adams is routinely and comfortably enjoying all the perks associated with holding the gig of starting signal caller.

Since fall camp began, the green mesh shell has read nothing but No. 19. Adams sat away from the other quarterbacks at Meet the Rebels Day and the senior was the only candidate to take snaps with the first team offense.

Sound like the quarterback spot is a three-horse race right now? Me neither.

Brent Schaeffer and Michael Herrick split the second team duties Saturday, but each failed to produce an eye-opening performance. Schaeffer completed the biggest pass of the day with a 38-yard touchdown toss to Markeith Summers, but that was the 2006 starter's only highlight. Or only completion for that matter. However, drops did affect the percentage of all three throwers.

Herrick completed only 38 percent of his passes, and along with Schaeffer, didn't show the consistency to move up the depth chart. This doesn't mean Adams was immune to a rough time as well.

The Holly Springs native struggled mightily on the Vaught-Hemingway turf before turning his day around inside the IPF. Adams was 1-5 outdoors but finished 13-of-23 for 95 yards including a streak of nine consecutive completions.

The passes were mostly short timing routes where the receiver holds the burden of producing a big gain. The particular aerial attack should result in steady positive yardage, but it doesn't necessarily move everyone out of the box to open up the running game. That is unless the receivers use their speed and quickness to break up the defense, which is possible with Dexter McCluster and Marshay Green.

The bigger arm and better feet undeniably lie with Schaeffer but the quarterback race has turned into a case study of tangibles versus intangibles. Highlighted by Orgeron's "inconsistent lifestyle" statement during SEC Media Days, Schaeffer isn't displaying the leadership and will that the Rebel coaches are searching for in their starter.

Past press conferences have held the feeling Orgeron is attempting to wake Schaeffer up, but slumber time is running out quickly. Kickoff in the Liberty Bowl is less than two weeks away, and Schaeffer hasn't even broken through with any live snaps alongside the first team.

It is a long season, so No. 7 may still turn it around, but everything surrounding the program points to Adams leading the offense onto the field against Memphis.

Adams may not grace anyone's fantasy roster, but he can move the football thanks to a solid supporting cast. The offensive line was missing three starters on Saturday but hopefully the absences were only cautionary. Last season's patchwork line made Schaeffer's mobility mandatory, but adequate pass protection can allow Adams to execute a short, controlled passing game with the aid of three bruising runners behind him.

Naysayers of Adams point to last season's inability to move the offense during relief work. It is a valid point, but playcalling also hampered possible production. Two handoffs and a safe and conservative call on third and long make for a difficult time of moving the football.

The coaches have shown more confidence in the senior quarterback and will have to keep that faith as long as he is on the field. Closing the playbook, no matter who is under center, is a recipe for a lifeless offense.

Orgeron and offensive coordinator Dan Werner see the players everyday and have a far greater idea of ability than those of us who get weekly snapshots. Athleticism is a key factor, but whether it is more important than leadership and team chemistry is debatable. The rest of the Rebels have to believe in and respect whoever is taking the snaps.

There is still practice time remaining before a quarterback is named, but Adams appears to have a nearly insurmountable lead due to either impressive play or Schaeffer's apparent attitude issues.

The race may be a marathon, but the final sprint to the finish has begun

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