There were an unusual number of teams in the Mountain West Conference that had to deal with quarterback competitions this fall, but now that we're within two weeks of opening kickoffs across the country, it appears most of them have settled upon who will lead their offenses into the 2015 campaign. Ryan Finley, Nick Stevens, Tyler Stewart: the athletes we expected to win the jobs, by and large, have already been anointed as the starter or appear to be closing in on the role.
The Fresno State Bulldogs, however, are not one of those teams. In fact, if reports from the Fresno Bee's Robert Kuwada are to be believed, it may feel a little like déjà vu when head coach Tim DeRuyter says that "whoever we start with is going to get a majority of the reps, and we will likely play at least one other quarterback."
Alternatively, it may feel as though the coaching staff's thought process is something like this:
Twenty practices into fall camp, it's disconcerting that DeRuyter and offensive coordinator Dave Schramm have already kicked the can down the road, as if live action against the Southland Conference's worst pass defense (by yards allowed) in 2014 will do much to provide answers.
Think about last year's victory against Southern Utah for a moment. Yes, it ended up as a blowout, but remember that the first quarter was excruciating: Brian Burrell, the nominal starter, was 3-for-5 for two yards and an interception, while Brandon Connette came in late and completed just one of his first five passes into the second quarter. Fresno had 291 passing yards overall, sure, though that was inflated by Zack Greenlee's 81-yard strike to Da'Mari Scott.
Take that long touchdown away, and you're left with a 21-37-210-3-1 line (and a 125.78 rating) between three different quarterbacks against a pass defense that ultimately finished 117th in the FCS in yards allowed per game and 111th in opponents' QB rating. Its absence would've dropped the 'Dogs from 104th to 108th in quarterback rating for the season. They were also just 2-of-7 in converting third downs through the air, so success against a subpar FCS defense is not a given.
Granted, Greenlee probably still has the inside track to the starting role, given that reports from the second private scrimmage this past Thursday indicate he had a lot success moving the ball. It makes one wonder, though, just what the sophomore has to do to create real separation from a true freshman (Chason Virgil) and a junior transfer who's been with the team for roughly a month (Ford Childress).