Throughout the coaching press conferences this morning, specifically Stoops and Neal Brown, a reiterated question was how are they keeping the quarterback competition from becoming a problem, or controversy. On the depth chart, it still reads “OR” between each name.
Coach Brown said, “It starts with the demeanor and how Coach Stoops and I handle it. They’re good people (the quarterbacks), I don’t think any of those guys are jealous by nature. I think they’re really good, solid human beings- and its (the competition) something we talk about. We talk about it on a regular basis; we talked about it this morning. We say ‘hey, this is going to be about WE, not ME, this is how the reps are going to be distributed, everyone is going to get an opportunity to prove themselves and the most productive guy will win.”
Stoops agreed, he also said that ultimately the decision lies in his hands for quarterback, although Brown will have plenty of input. “I’ll make the call, of course I trust Neal. As we go through camp we’ll work together on that but ultimately that will be my decision with great input from Neal.” Stoops said that trust will play a big role in who the quarterback will be. “Well I think as we go through camp and build what we’re doing there’s a trust factor there. Our players need to trust that everyone in their position will be successful and they have to trust that whoever is behind center will lead this team and help us win. That goes for any position.”
The big question for the BBN:
Are we rotating snaps?
Stoops: “I think anybody would like to have one guy but again, you have to make the right choice, so if it takes game reps, we’re going to do it.”
Brown: “I don’t think you should ever have a closed mind about anything, but I think its better if you have one clear-cut guy that goes out and wins the job, but if there’s no separation- I think you’ve seen it in the past. Coach Spurrier does it a lot, where they’ve used multiple quarterbacks, I think there’s scenarios where that can be successful.”
Take that as you will.
On each quarterback, Brown was asked their biggest strengths.
“Maxwell (Smith)- I think he has potential to be really accurate with the football and he’s been productive when he’s been healthy, but he hasn’t been healthy a lot- which is an issue. But he’s been productive and accurate with the football and he’s done it against good people.”
“When you talk about Patrick (Towles), he’s a big kid, he’s got a strong arm, he runs better than most people think. He’s got big time arm talent. “
“Talk about Jalen, he’s a playmaker- one of the better athletes on our football team, he makes plays and another thing I like about Jalen is he got thrown into the fire and he didn’t shy away and even though the end results didn’t show it, he got better as the year went on last year.”
“And Reese, Reese has no fear. Reese Phillips went out and played in by far the biggest crowd he’s ever had to perform in front of in the spring game and preformed well.”
Towles talked a lot about his mindset going into camp today. “The mindset is that you want to be starting quarterback and doing whatever you have to do to get that. Stay focused and determined and prove to whoever you need to prove to that you’re the best guy for the job.” He said that he worked a lot on his lower body over the summer and is feeling good and ready to compete. When asked about avoiding quarterback “controversy” he said “that comes with one guy putting himself so far ahead of the others that there is no competition and conversation about it.”
Smith talked lots about goals and let us know that the coaches left a sheet in each of the four quarterbacks lockers with a list of goals for camp. “Each of us got 5 goals on a sheet in all four of our lockers, a lot of us had the same things but some things were different. One of my specific things was coach wants me to get to the target all the time because I have a tendency to not get it there so I worked on that all summer. I worked on anticipating throws and I didn’t over-stride, making sure my base was always good- stuff like that. Everything he said I worked on and I got better.” He said that for him, and the other three quarterbacks the fast pace offence is starting to make more sense and “slow down” for him, better reads. Smith assured us there would be no controversy. “We just always have fun, we’re always laughing. I know it’s very serious, but we try to make it not so serious. I mean look at everyone surrounding us three, we know it’s a competition, but there’s not going to be any controversy I can promise you that.” Smith was also asked if he felt pressure coming into camp to secure his spot, he said no. They asked again “NO pressure?” “No, no pressure at all” Smith told us.
Whitlow was asked lots of questions about the receivers, but kept emphasizing that they were a team. “At the end of the camp we will be one, just one team”. He said his goals list included “just footwork, get more familiar with the offense which was pretty much everybody’s goal, nothing really out of the ordinary.”
For you stats people, Brown said, “We want to be at 75 plus snaps, we want to be 48% or better on third downs, we like being 50% or higher on first downs so a good play is 4 yards.”
Just by the way the coaches talked, I think Whitlow will be the starter by the end of camp, Reese Phillips is expected to redshirt. Smith seemed the most confident to me. Whitlow didn’t have much to say, which isn’t out of the ordinary. Towles is playing which a chip on his shoulder after spring practices. The way the coaches were talking about the offense, it seems to fit Whitlow’s style best- being able to throw accurately, but having the ability to run. I was glad to hear that there is no animosity between our men under center, however. Each quarterback expressed how far they have come and how they feel they are constantly improving with their goals well in sight. Each quarterback seems more than ready to compete for that spot on the field this month. We will have to see how it all plays out, but man I’m excited to watch. Lots of goals in place, I hope to see our offense reach them.