Quarterback battle heats up

If Saturday's first scrimmage was any indication, Commodore fans are in for a dynamic battle for the starting quarterback position as the 2013 season approaches. With Jordan Rodgers graduating this spring, redshirt junior Austyn Carta-Samuels and freshman Patton Robinette are the two leading candidates for starting quarterback.

If Saturday's first scrimmage was any indication, Commodore fans are in for a dynamic battle for the starting quarterback position as the 2013 season approaches. With Jordan Rodgers graduating this spring, redshirt junior Austyn Carta-Samuels and freshman Patton Robinette are the two leading candidates for starting quarterback. On Saturday morning, both Carta-Samuels and Robinette showed off their arms in the team's first full session of live football.

The work of Carta-Samuels and Robinette was quite impressive considering the current lack of depth at wide receiver.

"We've got great depth at every position except wideout," said Franklin after Saturday's scrimmage. "We're really thin at wideout this spring, partly because we moved some guys over to defense. It's probably not in the best interest of spring ball, but I'm not worried about winning spring ball. I'm worried about what's going to be the best for us in the fall, especially because we got five incoming freshman wide receivers that we feel really good about coming in."

The current front-runner for quarterback, Carta-Samuels completed 5-of-7 passes for 68 yards and a touchdown. Samuels' touchdown came on a four-yard pass to running Wesley Tate on the offense's first goal line possession. The former Wyoming quarterback's best play of the day came on a 24-yard connection to wide receiver Jordan Matthews on third-and-8. The successful deep seam route showcased the arm-strength that has gotten Samuels a great deal of buzz in Commodore nation.

"I think Austyn Carta-Samuels is doing some very good things," said Franklin. "But overall I've been very, very pleased with where he's at and how he's conducting himself and how he's carrying himself and his power of the offense. Right now, he's using the offense to solve problems, which is really what it's intended to do."

As for Robinette (photo at right), the lanky freshman completed 4-of-5 passes for 46 yards and a touchdown. Robinette delivered his touchdown pass on the offense's second goal line possession by rolling to his right and firing to tight end Steven Scheu in the back of the end zone. Another positive for Robinette was his ability to make plays with his legs. By the end of the scrimmage, Robinette rushed for 24 yards on three carries.

"He (Robinette) got out in open space and I'd like to see him throw but the problem is in those plays, the defense wasn't there to contain him so go get that easy yardage," said Franklin. "The guy's a winner. He understands to limit mistakes, keep creating positive plays down the field. He's aggressive, he's motivated, so I'm pleased with him and our future for that position."

Arm strength and experience or poise and rushing ability? After just one scrimmage, James Franklin has two capable starting quarterbacks, a good problem for any Division One football coach, especially in the SEC. While it's still too early to tell who will win the job in the fall, limiting mistakes will be a crucial part of Franklin's decision. As a former Division II quarterback, Franklin knows full well how turnovers can influence a game. Last fall, Jordan Rodgers was able to limit mistakes and it got the Commodores a Music City Bowl victory. With the team eyeing the highly-coveted SEC Championship, the question is now who will make the least errors. So far, the playing field is pretty even.

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