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Mid-Atlantic QB Crisis

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By BJ Bennett
Follow us at  Become a fan at the Facebook Page Mid-Atlantic Columnist Aaron Pyre takes a look at the quarterbacks who may start for Maryland, UVA and VT.

By Aaron Pyre Mid-Atlantic Columnist Mid-Atlantic Columnist Aaron Pyre takes a look at the quarterbacks who may start for Maryland, UVA and VT.


Who is going to start at quarterback for Maryland, UVA and Virginia Tech?  Those choices will be the most important one each coaching staff makes early in the season.  The Terps and Hoos have three guys vying for the job and the Hokies two.  As the proverb goes, “If you have two (or three) starting quarterbacks, it means you really have no starting quarterbacks.”  That’s not good news for the Mid Atlantic contingent of the ACC.  Though, someone has to start and the likely starter will be named this week (see Jordan Steffy at Maryland), it seems not one quarterback at these schools has separated themselves from the others in competition.  These three ACC schools are not alone as Miami, FSU, NC State, UNC and GT also have open competitions at the position.  That does not bode well for the league in 2008, but that column is for another day.

The importance of having one quarterback, who is head and shoulders above the rest, cannot be overstated.  He is the team leader, the focal point of the offense.  Preferably there needs to be one voice that the players in the huddle look to, not two or three.  Each quarterback has a different relationship with each wide receiver.  Each reads and reacts to a defense differently and it’s important he has his timing down right with the wide outs.  Change the quarterbacks a time or two and the wheels to the passing game can come off.  Leaving fall camp to start the season with the team split on who the guy is can very well hurt team chemistry.  One or two bad games could lead to outright mutiny within the program.  So it’s pretty easy to see how finding one guy and sticking with him is optimal for everyone.  Going into game one with the starter looking over his shoulder at the guy(s) behind is sure to make him anxious thinking about when and if the hook will come if he plays poorly.  The last thing he or his coaching staff wants is for the starter to play with a lack of focus or playing scared.  Unfortunately, it does not appear that any of these three teams will have a clear standout on their rosters.

Let’s take a quick look at the candidates and then how my untrained eye thinks it may go, at least initially.


Maryland Terrapins

Maryland probably is the closest to the coaching proverb of “no starting quarterbacks.”  After many practices and a couple of scrimmages, no one has come close to separating themselves from the others.  Two can be dazzling, in between bad reads and throws, while the other plays it safe.

The candidates:

Chris Turner, Jr
• Most Experienced
• Does not make many mistakes
• Bit of a gamer, two top 10 wins to his name

• Limited athletically
• Doesn’t make big plays

Josh Portis, Jr
• Big time athlete, University of Florida transfer
• Game changer if the play breaks down

• Makes mistakes
• Least knowledgeable of the offense

Jordan Steffy, Sr
• 5 years in the program, knows the offense the best
• Popular in the locker room
• Good athlete

• Mistake prone
• Happy feet when pressured
• Injury prone

As I was writing this column, Ralph decided on Jordan Steffy as the opening game starter.  Steffy had more positive plays than anyone else (and also more negative.)  Chris Turner was who the media thought would win the job coming out of camp.  Turner will be no. 2 on the depth chart but not guaranteed to play.  Seems Josh Portis with his superb athleticism and growing knowledge of the playbook is going to play and be ‘factor X’ for the team.  The staff stated that the competition is over and that Jordan is their guy, we’ll see.  Somehow I suspect Turner will play at some point this season.  This could make for a long and interesting season of revolving quarterbacks.  Stay Tuned.

Virginia Cavaliers

Thanks to Al Groh’s mentor Bill Parcells, he has not given a hint of who the starter will be.  Each splits the reps with the first team offense.  To be honest, not much is known outside the program of Scott Deke and Marc Verica.  That might be telling in itself.  I am going to cross Marc off the list, even though he has taken some first team snaps, the race is really between the young hot shot and the old, knowledgeable veteran.

The candidates:

Peter Lalich, So
• Only candidate with playing experience
• Great Arm, can make throws the others cannot
• Very good size for a Pro style QB

• Off field maturity issues
• Still very inexperienced

Scott Deke, Sr
• Familiarity with the offense
• No. 1 coming out of spring practices

• No game experience

The announcement will come Wednesday, Peter Lalich is my guess.  Lalich looks to have slowly separated himself from Scott Deke; he simply is more talented, even if he has a bit more to learn.  Maturity issues are the biggest thing holding him back, right now.  All that said, over the years Al Groh has done many a strange thing with his signal callers, so Deke and maybe Verica need be ready to go in at any time.  Tackles, wide receiver and running back are a plus for this Virginia team.  The number one priority is for the interior lineman to keep the quarterback upright.

Virginia Tech Hokies

VT has the most known and best options at quarterback.  Both want to be the guy and not split time, but that doesn’t seem likely.  Being two different styles certainly doesn’t help the issue.  I get the feeling that some on the staff, Frank Beamer and offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring, prefer the dual threat types while the QB coach Mike O’Cain prefers the traditional dropback variety.

The candidates:

Sean Glennon, Sr
• Knows and seen it all, the Offenses and Defenses
• Physically very tough

• Can get the deer in head lights look if a play or 2 goes bad
• Not a big threat to run if the play breaks down

Tyrod Taylor, So
• Very Athletic
• Calm, not fazed easily

• Still learning the defenses
• Will force a throw

Sean Glennon will likely start and after a series or two Tyrod Taylor will take the field for his turn.  Some games will feature more of Glennon others more of Taylor, depending on matchups.  If one separates himself from the other, the coaching staff may very well ride that guy.  The players and staff should be able to use last year’s rotating experience as a benefit.  Potential lack of playmakers at wide receiver and running back may force Taylor on the field as one more set of legs for the defense to think about.

The early season fortunes of these three teams begin with the decision on who will quarterback each team.  Will the old coaching proverb hold true about multiple guys worthy to start or will the long process flesh out the true starter?  The choice seems fluid for all three teams and just because the season starts in a week doesn’t mean the quarterback chosen is the right guy for the team in game three or six or nine.  This is sure to be on the back of the mind of everyone involved.


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Stories written by columnists are done independently.  Views do not always coincide with those of the remainder of the staff or the ownership of

BJ Bennett – B.J. Bennett is’s founder and publisher. He is the co-host of “Three & Out” with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the “Southern Pigskin Radio Network”. Email: [email protected] / Twitter: @BJBennettSports

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