Positional Preview: Quarterback

In the continuing series previewing the WMU football team position-by-position Broncos Illustrated takes a look at the quarterbacks. Who will start? Where does Alex Engram fit in? What problems from last season are they fixing? Read on for all the answers we can give.

Who will start? "We're hoping to have an answer by next week," said Gary Darnell. In the first scrimmage last Tuesday Ryan Cubit got his turn to run the offense; today is Blayne Baggett's turn. With only one more scrimmage on August 24 time is running short for Cubit and Baggett to show why they should be named starter.

"As a group of quarterbacks I think we are headed in the right direction," said Cubit. "Each of us are great quarterbacks and there's a lot of competition out there. It just makes each one of us better."

The competition, "has brought a lot of guys closer together," added Baggett. "We're out there everyday competing for a job and we both have a mutual understanding for each other and almost a friendship."

This season's decision will be much tougher then the last two seasons for one big reason. "When we choose between Drach and Munson we were picking an offense," said Darnell. Jon Drach was an active QB who was more then willing to scramble and throw from outside the pocket, while Chad Munson was a pocket passer that rarely scrambled.

Cubit and Baggett are both quite similar to each other. "We're pretty much the same type of quarterback," said Cubit. "We both fit into our offense."

Don't expect Western Michigan to go with a two-quarterback system like they did two seasons ago either. "There are pros and cons, but for the team I think it needs to be one solid starter for the sake of leadership and the sake of direction," said Baggett. "It's a timing issue, it's knowing where a guy is going to be at a certain time. In terms of the fluidity of the game is concerned I think it would be better if it was just one guy starting."

Also figuring into the picture is Robbie Haas who, according to quarterback coach Charley Molnar, goes out everyday and runs a mistake free practice. Although Haas isn't considered a front-runner for the starting job his work ethic and poise are making it very hard for the coaches to not give him a thorough looking at.

Freshman Alex Engram came in with high expectations. "I didn't come here to sit on anybody's bench," said Engram in an interview last winter. Engram expected to be able to compete for the starting job this spring, but has since learned to be humble. "Cubit and Baggett are great," said Engram at media day today. "I just need to be patient and when it's my turn I'm going to take it."

Darnell told media that he expects to redshirt Engram this year. "It's a real maturation process as a freshman quarterback and that's what's holding him back right now," said Darnell.

"We recruited [Engram] to compete for the starting job when he was ready," said Molnar. "It may be one year, it may be two years, but when he's ready he'll be competing for the starting job."

An area of concern for the team last season was a high number of delay of game penalties, and the timeouts called to avoid such penalties. "That was the signal system," said Baggett. "We've taken some of the longer reads and condensed them into nice simpler reads where we can come up to the line, make a read, and go."

In camp the quarterbacks are simply working on, "trying to be efficient," said Cubit. "We're not just trying to make the big plays we're just trying to move the sticks, get the positive yardage. Not making mistakes is a big thing… don't turn the ball over."

Part of the competition for the starting job is making the right checks and reading the defenses correctly. "In today's game of football the defense doesn't just come and line-up, they're going to disguise everything," said Baggett. "Making the right decisions and making the right reads is really going to be key. Also putting long drives together and keeping the defense off the field is going to be key."

Regardless of who wins the starting job the team is ready to win. "There's a winning attitude here," said Cubit. "We have a huge chance to really be good. Our team chemistry is great and we're playing as a team right now."

Baggett added, "This team has a real team unity. It's a family out there."

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