Quarterback Battles

It's not competition for the starting job (Rasheed Marshall is firmly entrenched there), but there is still a fiercely contested battle for position going on among some of West Virginia's quarterbacks.

It's also not a challenge for the number two spot, where senior Charles Hales will be when he's not getting some snaps at the H receiver. Instead, it's for the third QB position, where a too-close-to-call race is ongoing between Dwayne Thompson and Adam Bednarik.

"We strongly evaluated both Adam and Dwayne during and after the spring, and they pretty much came out neck-and-neck," quarterbacks coach Bill Stewart said of the duel for the third QB position. "But, you have to get a third guy ready. With Charles getting some time behind John Pennington at receiver, that will give us a chance to get Adam and Dwayne some more snaps at quarterback that what they would in a normal situation. That gives us a little bit of flexibility. We'll also look at Dwayne at the H receiver a little bit."

That plan shouldn't be construed, however, as shorting either Marshall or Hales on the number of snaps they get in practice.

"Those guys have been through the wars, but we will give them enough snaps to get them ready," Stewart explained. "We have a great plan, and we're going to get the top two guys ready. They will get the majority of the work. But, we're going to have an opportunity to get either Adam or Dwayne into that third spot. They have to do it quickly."

While the coaching staff was hoping that one of the two contenders would have separated himself from the other by now, that didn't happen. Fortunately, however, it wasn't because neither player improved. Instead, it was a case of both making progress.

"Both of them really improved," Stewart said of Bednarik and Thompson. "Adam got a great grasp of the offense, and was doing well, but then he got his shoulder dinged up. Then Dwayne came on strong. They are neck-and-neck."

At some point during the fall, even if neither player moves ahead of the other, the coaching staff will have to pick one as the third quarterback, at least on a week-by-week basis. While they would prefer to have a clear-cut winner in the derby, that might not happen. And even if it does, Stewart is making both players aware that the winner in this year's competition doesn't have a leg up in the future.

"I've sat them down and told them, both individually and together, that whoever is third this fall might not be the guy next year. It's not like this camp is it, and you're going to be the starter next year," Stewart explained. "That's not the way we do things here. We'll compete all year, and we'll compete next spring. Just because we pick a guy third this year, that doesn't mean he's the guy next year. So it's a good healthy situation. I really don't know who the third guy is going to be right now, but we're still about a month away from the first game."

Stewart won't even hazard a guess as to who might win the job, noting that "it's really close". He does say, however, that he has no fear in playing either Thompson or Bednarik in a game.

"We're going to run our quarterbacks this year, and we couldn't do that last year," Stewart noted. "Rasheed and Charles are going to run the ball, and if Dwayne or Adam are in there, they are going to run the ball too."

Of course, WVU also has a highly regarded quarterback recruit in Pat White, who will see his first practice next Monday. However, barring a very unlikely turn of events, White won't be competing for that third slot early on.

"We don't have time to get a freshman ready unless he's going to be the guy, and he's not going to be the guy this year," Stewart said. "Pat has a wonderful future in front of him, and I expect him to battle it out next year. But this year, we're just trying to teach him, like any freshman, the fundamentals."

After a lean year of QB depth, West Virginia now has four quality players that the coaches feel comfortable with. And while getting them all the work they need to determine the final depth chart is a problem, it's a nice one to have.


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