I love competition, don’t you?
Every aspect of competition brings out the very best in teams for the good and the bad.
Heading into 2012, Washington State Cougars Head Coach Mike Leach must determine which signal caller is right for his offense.
As much as this competition is about arm strength, foot work, and the rest of the intangibles that goes along with playing the position, at the end of the day Mike Leach is looking to see which QB has the “IT” factor, The guy that possess the ability to control the locker room and the huddle.
By looking at the position in abstract, it’s hard to pick one based on the 2011 season because the QB position was a complete train wreck for the Cougars.
Jeff Tuel started the 2011 opener on the sideline with a stomach virus, only to enter the game and break his broken collar bone during his first series.
This forced the Cougars to turn to Marshall Lobbestael for the majority of the season. When Tuel did return to action it wasn’t long before he was out again with soreness of the collar bone he broke just over a month earlier (some have speculated Tuel broke the bone again against Oregon State).
The fallout from that game not only made Halliday the flavor of the week, but it also had quite a few Cougar fans talking about a legitimate QB competition.
Those talks abruptly ended the very next week when Connor Halliday suffered a lacerated liver on a second quarter hit against Utah. Halliday’s injury has carried over into spring practices.
Halliday took an incidental shot in the team’s first practice forcing Halliday to miss the rest of spring drills, including the Crimson and Gray game.
Where does that leave the position?
It actually leaves the position in good hands.
Jeff Tuel is back and completely recovered. What figured to be a competition has looked like a one-sided affair. With Connor Halliday out until the fall camp while recovering from the shot to his healing liver, Tuel has been left alone to take all the snaps with the first team.
That segwayed into his performance in the spring game (19-21, 285 yards, 2 TD’s) which cemented his status as the team’s #1 QB heading into the fall camp.
Leach did speak with caution (not getting too high on Tuel’s performance) by saying that once Halliday is healthy in the fall, he and Tuel are expected to square off for the starting job.
Even though Tuel appears to be the front-runner to win the starting job, nothing has been set in stone.
The real competition hasn’t started
It won’t begin until Connor Halliday is 100% healthy and on the practice field giving Jeff Tuel his best shot.
At that point Coach Leach can begin the process of evaluating these two. Both QB’s possess the leadership intangibles that make QB’s great.
They both command the huddle exceptionally well, and both know the team loves battling with them on Saturday’s.
This competition will come down to skill set and I fully expect Leach to give it to the guy who rightfully earns it.