Fall Camp Preview: Quarterbacks

This is the first in a series of articles reviewing the Panthers units going into fall camp. Offense, defense, and special teams will be covered. Returning players and incoming freshmen will be included.

Quarterback should be among the most talented and deepest positions on the team this season. Senior Rod Rutherford (6-3/220) returns as the starting QB. Rod was easily the most improved player on the team last season. He finished 2nd in the Big East conference in total offense to Heisman candidate Ken Dorsey from the Miami Hurricanes. Rod completed 192 of 367 passes for 2,783 yards and 22 TDs in his first season as a starter. He averaged 214.1 yards passing per game for a 52.3 completion percentage. Rod also made many big plays with his legs as he rushed for an additional 398 yards. Rutherford also set a school record with 3,181 yards in total offense last season and was recently named to the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award Watch list. If he continues his improvement in the areas of accuracy and decision-making, he should be among the top QBs in the country this year.

Fighting for the backup quarterback spot will be true sophomore Tyler Palko (6-2/210) and redshirt freshman Luke Getsy (6-2/210). Palko played in six games last year in backup duty and finished 2 of 3, passing for 13 yards and rushing for 1 TD in the Insight Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona. Tyler had a strong spring and will try to make the decision of redshirting him a difficult one this season. Walt Harris has said in the past that if Palko and Getsy are close, he may decide to redshirt Palko to give him a chance at a possible three years as the starting QB. Palko is known to be a tireless worker who lives in the film room.

Luke Getsy was one of the biggest surprises of spring ball. He added almost 20 pounds of muscle since his arrival at Pitt and his confidence showed. He matched Palko on decision-making, passing, and running ability at the spring game, and looks well prepared to make the backup QB position a heated battle at fall camp. Getsy is also known to be a tireless worker and a student of the game. Whether or not Getsy or Palko is named the backup QB is one of the biggest questions of fall camp.

The newcomer to the depth chart is incoming freshman Joe Flacco (6-4/190) from Audubon, NJ. Joe has that classic drop-back passer style and is known for his quick release, strong arm, good vision, and the ability to remain calm under pressure. Flacco was ranked among the top 40 QB's in the country per several recruiting analysts and has a bright future ahead of him. Joe passed for 5,137 yards in 3 years as a starter - registering 2,020 yards and 10 TDs his senior year and 1,790 yards and 15 TDs his junior year.

The only overall weakness at this position is a lack of quality game experience by anyone other than Rutherford. Palko and Getsy did show this spring that they are more than capable of stepping in, leading the team, and directing the offense. They both were very impressive and look to take their games to the next level this fall.

Brian Gold

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