Head Coach Todd Graham admitted that it “has been an agonizing 24 hours” as he and his staff went through the decision process as to which signal caller will be named the starting quarterback. They delivered the news to the players yesterday and today made the official announcement to the media following Monday morning’s practice that Taylor Kelly will be the starter and that Michael Eubank will see some game time snaps as well. Mike Bercovici is in effect the third string quarterback.
“We are going to go with Taylor there,” Graham said, “and Eubank will play as well so we are going to use two (quarterbacks). That’s not to say that Bercovici wouldn’t play because he has made it very difficult.
“There is not much separation between them.”
Even though Graham has stated the last several days that Kelly was leading the quarterback race, and his reps on the field certainly reflected that status, the sophomore was still excited following the official announcement.
“I just went out every day and worked hard both in the weight room and on the field,” Kelly said of his pre-fall camp preparations. “I had guys line up in different spots (during informal workouts) to improve my arm strength. I just got more comfortable with how they run their routes.”
Kelly added that the extra work he did put in with the wide receivers not only helped his downfield passing skills but also his confidence executing that skill.
It’s no secret that coming into fall camp the staff didn’t expect Kelly to win the starting position, and Kelly stated that his mindset before practices began wasn’t affected by the perception of his chances being named the number one signal caller.
“I had a chip on my shoulder to come out every day and compete,” Kelly admitted. “I just had great focus and I came out there and had some fun.”
That carefree attitude was also shared by Eubank who despite his natural desire to be named the outright starter and not a co-quarterback, was taking the recent news in stride.
“I’m good. I’m coming in with a smile every day thanking God I get to play football everyday,” Eubank commented. “There is a reason for everything and God has a plan for me. I don’t know what my role is going to be, but whenever my number is called I’m going to go out onto the field and make the plays I need to make.”
No one would blame Bercovici for being dejected today. By all accounts he came into fall camp as the starting quarterback and at the culmination of this period he finds himself on paper as having the longest odds to re-capture that role. Yet, after practice the sophomore sounded anything but depressed
“I’m confident in my abilities to help this team win,” Bercovici said. “However it may happen, that isn’t in my hands right now. It definitely was a close competition. He (offensive coordinator Mike Norvell) feels that I can help this team a lot and that it will all work out, and personally I do too.
“I truly feel like I can be on the field this year.”