Mitchell: Team plans to settle on one starting QB
BIRMINGHAM, Ala . — As the old football saying goes, “If you have two quarterbacks, you don’t have one.”
By that measure, Southern had no one under center in 2011.
The Jaguars split time between Dray Joseph and J.P. Douglas last season, never settling on one person to lead the offense.
But this time around, coach Stump Mitchell says things will be different.
“This year, there is no leash,” Mitchell said. “The guy is going to get an opportunity to play. We’re not going to have a two-tier system, unless a guy is just having a bad game.”
Choosing “the guy” begins Aug. 3, when fall camp opens.
From then until the Sept. 1 trip to New Mexico, it will be a head-to-head competition between Joseph and Douglas for the starting spot. Once Mitchell decides on one, the other will take a back seat.
No flipping through quarterbacks like TV channels, no yanking one out because of a bad play.
Whoever earns the job gets to keep it, Mitchell said, and Joseph looks to be the front-runner.
He was 113-for-212 with 1,544 yards, 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions, while Douglas went 95-for-189 with 1,282 yards, 10 scores and six INTs.
Mitchell was disappointed with Joseph’s play last year, but he saw a new man during spring practice. Mitchell said Joseph broke out of his shell and showed the kind of confidence he flashed against Alabama A&M, when he threw for 308 yards and three touchdowns to earn SWAC Player of the Week honors.
But it’s no sure thing that he’ll wrap up the job this fall.
Wide receiver Charles Hawkins, expected to be one of the team’s top playmakers, said the two quarterbacks are pretty similar, and he has seen Douglas step up.
“I think J.P. grew a lot last year because he took control of the huddle,” Hawkins said. “When he first got there, he still had the high school mentality. As the season went on, he got better and better each game.”
Ultimately, whoever takes over will need receivers like Hawkins, Lee Doss and preseason All-SWAC second-teamer Mike Berry to make plays, and for an offensive line that brings back four starters to show improvement from the group that allowed the second-most sacks in the conference last year.
“If those guys play like they’re capable of playing, the game will be easier,” Hawkins said. “No one in the SWAC can check our receivers.”
Once the quarterback debate is settled, Mitchell has high hopes for his starter.
“The offensive line is much better, and we’ll have a lot better protection for those guys, so I expect for one of them to grab hold of the position, and when it’s all said and done, for one of those guys to be the offensive player of the year,” he said.