The old adage has been “if you have two quarterbacks, then you have no quarterbacks”. I’m sure you can find plenty of exceptions to the rule, but generally quarterbacks, more than other positions, need to find their rhythm in a game, on the team and in a season. If a quarterback is getting pulled every other series or every other quarter, they are unable to make the mental and physical adjustments necessary to keep the offense moving.
Jesse Palmer, the former Florida Gators quarterback who dealt with head coach Steve Spurrier using multiple quarterbacks had this to say on the practice, “It’s such a hard position to play, when you’re playing it defensively, when you’re playing it not to make a mistake. You can’t be careless playing the position but certainly you have to play the position with conviction. You have to make decisions, you have to be able to throw the football with conviction, believing if you make a mistake especially early in the game you’re not going to get pulled.”
The West Virginia Mountaineers have only suffered two losing seasons in the 2000s - 2001 during Rich Rodriguez’s first season as head coach and 2013 during Dana Holgorsen’s second season in the Big 12 and first without a solidified starting quarterback. In 2001, Rodriguez had senior quarterback Brad Lewis, who was a bad fit for the zone-read concept Rodriguez would eventually become known for. The team struggled mostly as it tried to transition from Don Nehlen’s power running attack to Rodriguez’s spread system.
2013 was a different conondrum. The Mountaineers lost their all-time passing leader in Geno Smith and would begin the year trying to sort out who would be their future quarterback. Dana Holgorsen had three options: junior Paul Millard who had been with the team for several years, freshman Ford Childress or junior transfer Clint Trickett. Trickett joined the team late in fall practice and was unfamiliar with the scheme, Childress still needed seasoning so Holgorsen eventually turned to Millard to start the season. The waffling between a decision ultimately hurt the team as Millard struggled early, Childress was injured against Maryland and Trickett took the rest of the year to get comfortable with the offense.
Neal Brown is faced with a similar situation. He has Oklahoma Sooners transfer Austin Kendall, whom almost everyone assumes will be the starter, Miami Hurricanes transfer Jack Allison, who started the bowl game last season and looked lost and redshirt freshman Trey Lowe who has seen very limited game action, fighting each other for the starting position. None of the three have started many games at the college level and need as many reps as they can get. Brown may be looking at a 3-9 season of his own but he needs to decide on a signal caller today.
Neal Brown will need to decide between Austin Kendall, Jack Allison or Trey Lowe quickly if he wants to get anything from his quarterbacks. He cannot wait for the James Madison week to decide which player will be his starter.