August 16, 2009

The State of the Quarterback Battle

Coach Frank Spaziani probably summed up the quarterback situation better than anybody when he said "We have a very cloudy picture at quarterback and we feel that we're in the best position we that we can be in at this point."

After a week of practice the Boston College quarterback battle still looks like the start of a horse race. There's no clear leader at this point. With that being said, there is subtle optimism that the candidates are getting better and learning the offense better.

"They've all been getting better day by day. It feels like now they are getting more comfortable. At first, it seemed they were all a little nervous," said wide receiver Rich Gunnell.

The biggest surprise of summer camp so far might be a player who just came to campus on June 28th, true freshman Michael Marscovetra.

"The one that has the most touch on his ball is the Marscovetra." Gunnell added, " Mike seems like he is the most comfortable back there, and the most natural back there."

Offensive coordinator Gary Tranquill has also been impressed with Marscovetra.

"He's got some things to do with his mechanics, but arm strength-wise and with accuracy he looks pretty good. The other thing I'm impressed with is he understands things. He's coming out of high school where he's not worried about blitzes and all of that stuff, and I think he understands all that. We're working with him because has a tendency to bring the ball down when he throws it. I call him Juan Marichal because sometimes he has a big wind-up," said Tranquill.

Marscovetra says one of the biggest challenges is learning the extensive playbook

"It's definitely a big challenge because the playbook is bigger and much more complicated than I had in high school. There are a lot more reads, and a lot more audibles. So far I think I'm handling it pretty well," said Marscovetra.

Perhaps the most intriguing of the quarterback candidates is 26-year old David Shinskie. Not surprisingly the former baseball player has wowed observers with his arm strength.

"Shinskie has made a tremendous effort. I think he's right at that point now where he's starting to get a grasp of pass protection and all of the things that nobody thinks about quarterbacks having to know. I have no problems with him mechanically throwing the ball, and he has good arm strength. For him right it's about fundamentals and learning," said Tranquill.

"Shinskie's ball doesn't spin too much, but it gets on you real fast. It's kind of weird, it's probably because he's a pitcher so it's like a knuckleball that comes out," said Gunnell.

For Shinskie it seems like feeling comfortable making football decisions is what is at the top of his priority list.

"As far as knowing the plays, I know where I have to look but at the same time you look at the spot and don't see what's really there. I'm trying to read the defenses and make decisions and make an accurate throw," said Shinskie.

Tranquill says that Shinskie is at a similar point like Marscovetra in terms of learning the plays.

"Beck and Tuggle have been through it in the spring and they know what we're talking about for the most part. For the other two guys this is all like a new language for them. Both of them, Marscoverta and Shinskie have done a really good job making an effort to learn," said Tranquill.

Right now Beck and Tuggle appear to be a sliver behind Marscovetra and Shinskie in the battle for the top two spots. However, the experience of playing with the team in the spring, and more importantly playing under the new offense in the spring has helped keep both players alive as interesting options in the quarterback battle.

"Both Codi and Justin are ahead of the other guys with the terminology. So they're a little bit ahead of the other guys in that aspect. As far as physical talent it's a toss-up. Justin probably has a little bit of a better arm, and Codi might be a little more accurate and run the game a little bit better," said Tranquill.

"The 7-on-7 drills gave me extra time to get the system down from what I learned in the spring and pick everything up. It really helped me progress up to camp. I think the biggest thing with me now in confidence. I feel a lot more confident now than I did in the spring with the system," said Tuggle.

For Boek there's not much that you can show him that he hasn't seen before.

"This is my 5th offense that I've been through in my college career so you can't trick me with much new stuff. I'm definitely feeling a lot more comfortable. We put in the offense in the spring and we had all summer to work through the plays. It's nice to know what everyone on the field is doing and where everyone is going," said Boek.

Like Shinskie, nobody seems to question the arm strength of Boek or Tuggle.

"Codi throws a bullet. Sometimes it may not be necessary, but he throws a hard ball. Tuggle does too," said Gunnell.

If there's one certain among this football style of a scrabble board it's that a decision is on the way as to who is leading the quarterback battle.

"We're going to have to make a decision soon about who gets the reps. I can't rep four quarterbacks. I can rep two of them and the third gets a little bit," admitted Tranquill.

Additionally, Tranquill says it's about more than just who picks up the offense the fastest.

"Reading the defenses is important, but I can coach those things. I can't coach accuracy. I can't coach arm strength. That's a part of it too," said Tranquill.

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