clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Big East Football Confab: When To Name A Starting Quarterback

Scott McCummings is one of five quarterbacks vying to start for the Connecticut Huskies.
Scott McCummings is one of five quarterbacks vying to start for the Connecticut Huskies.

Each week Big East Coast Bias polls bloggers around the conference on a football topic. How do their views differ from yours?

Of eight Big East teams, four have the starting quarterbacks set (Louisville, Pitt, USF and Syracuse) and four do not (Cincinnati, UConn, Rutgers and Temple).

Earlier this week, UConn coach Paul Pasqualoni was asked by ESPN’s Andrea Adelson about his time frame for determining a starter – among five QB contenders. He said:

I’d like to be able to say tomorrow, "Here it is; let’s go," but I just can’t do that. So we’re going to grind it out. It’s a big decision, obviously, and we’re going to try to make the best, informed decision that we can.

This we asked our Big East bloggers:

When do you prefer to name a starting quarterback: in the spring, at training camp or at the start of the season?

Survey said …

Matt Opper

I am of the opinion that the earlier the better. While there are certain advantages to dragging out a competition over a summer, namely that it forces those involved to work diligently all summer long. The flip-side of that is it brings unnecessary uncertainty to a team that might well be set in the coaches’ minds, without letting the players know that. In general, I feel that it’s better to have the QB position done and dusted by the end of spring. Of course, Cincinnati has had the QB position settled out of spring exactly twice in the last six years and that seems to have worked out okay.

Matt reports on the Cincinnati Bearcats at Down the Drive.

Sean Keeley

I think it depends on the situation. If you’ve got a healthy competition going between two or more guys, why not let them sweat it out all summer and work as hard as possible for the chance to be the starter? In that scenario, if you name your starter in the spring, it might kill the incentive to the other guys. Surely they won’t stop working, but mentally they might check out a little.

In Ryan Nassib’s sophomore season, we were in a similar situation and Nassib was named the starter in spring ball over the returning starter and another upperclassman. At the time it seemed a little premature but clearly the coaches saw something in him that was worth pinning their hopes on.

Follow Sean and the Syracuse Orange on Troy Nunes Is An Absolute Magician.

Cardiac Hill

When to anoint a starter is clearly dependent upon the personnel involved. In Pitt’s case, it made sense to tab Tino Sunseri the starter early because the alternatives, Mark Myers and Trey Anderson, didn’t show much last year. Even though Sunseri wasn’t great, it’s unlikely they’ve taken huge leaps without the benefit of playing time. But on a team with younger quarterbacks, more time is often needed. Personally, I always think it’s best to name a starter as soon as you can. The more reps said starter can get with the first-team offense, the better. Quarterbacks need to develop timing with their receivers and that takes repetition in practices and game time.

Track the Pittsburgh Panthers on Cardiac Hill.

Jamie DeVriend

Training camp is the only time that makes sense to me. Spring is too early; you never know when you might have to walk that decision back because a newcomer ends up outplaying the guy you thought was going to start. And the season opener is too late because there are no preseason games in college football. You have to hit the ground running, and spending the entire fall practice preparing two guys to potentially start doesn’t get that done.

Keep up with Jamie and the South Florida Bulls at Voodoo Five.


As mentioned, every situation is different. If there is an experienced quarterback who hasn’t yet distinguished himself, you may want to push him in the spring with a young quarterback. In that situation you may want to name him the starter after spring camp so that he can take a leadership role in the summer, but is well aware the job wasn’t handed to him. This appears to be the case in Connecticut with senior Johnny McEntee, even though he hasn’t been named the starter yet.

Then you may have a young quarterback who has competition from another quarterback. In this case you may want to see both of them react to the competition in training camp and then name a starter mid-way through camp. This may be the plan in Cincinnati with Munchie Legaux and the now healthy fifth-year senior Brendon Kay.

Finally, there are situations where the two quarterbacks are pretty dead-even and you may need each and every practice and scrimmage leading up the season opener to evaluate. This is the case at Rutgers where junior-to-be Chas Dodd and sophomore-to-be Gary Nova had equally up-and-down springs following having nearly equally similar seasons statistically last year. Whatever the case may be, not having a clear cut starting quarterback is usually not the best situation for a ball club.

Check out Jerry’s reports on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights.


Competition is overrated. The earlier a starter is named, the better. If a veteran QB is returning the job should be his until he is outplayed. If there is no incumbent, the coaching staff should anoint a starter at the beginning of training camp. This allows the team to adjust to a leader and gives him the necessary repetitions to develop cohesion with the first team.

If the starter falters, it comes as no surprise that he is replaced. The QBs below him know they need to be ready to perform or their fate will be the same.

29sonski is a Connecticut Huskies fan and an editor at Big East Coast Bias.

Last week’s confab: Most Pivotal 2012 Conference Game.