Heading into a bye week, senior quarterback Jeff Tuel seems to have wrenched the starting quarterback position away from sophomore Connor Halliday.
Head Coach Mike Leach said in his press conference Monday Tuel would take the first-team repetitions in practices leading up to the Cougars matchup against the Stanford Cardinal on Oct. 27.
“We’re just trying to see who moves the offense the best,” Leach said. “They’ve kind of been playing leap-frog over one another. One will move them good for a while and then the next one will, so we need a guy to take the position, hang on to it and go.” David Hawbaker / The Daily Evergreen
Tuel replaced Halliday in each of the last three games. Leach said he was pleased with how Tuel played against Cal, but he also hopes jockeying the quarterbacks will stop in the coming weeks.
“At some point we’ve got to settle in and get some consistency and play rather than trying to guess who’s hot,” Leach said. “That’s madness right there.”
Both quarterbacks have done some good things this season, Leach said. But, neither one has put together the complete package.
“If you could clone half of each of them, you’d be in business,” Leach said.
Tuel said this season has certain adjustments with a new coach who is running the team and trying to implement a new offensive system.
“You have to understand that just because your head coach is Mike Leach and it’s his offense, doesn’t mean everything’s going to be perfect,” Tuel said. “It’s not like he can just snap his fingers and all of a sudden every single ball’s going to be complete, every single read is going to be great. It’s everyone’s first year in the system, we’re learning a lot of things. I’ve learned a tremendous amount just about how the offense clicks just from week one to now.”
Despite the fact the Cougars have scored points in nine of 14 chances in the red zone during conference play, Tuel talked about a need to relax and make plays near the goal line. Leach echoed by saying the team sometimes tries to do too much on one play and needs to continue with routine plays.
Leach said the receivers might be contributing to the team's inefficiency near the goal line.
“All of a sudden, our fragile little receivers are going to go into the end zone and get frightened, and so then all of a sudden they can’t catch the ball. That’s crazy,” Leach said. “So, they just need to learn to be tougher.”
He did say that freshman tight end Brett Bartolone performed well in the last game and showed more toughness than the rest of the receivers. However, Leach continued by describing what he would like to see from the rest of his receivers in the future.
“I’m talking about the toughness that allows somebody that’s had a football thrown at them not hundreds of times but thousands of times in a row where they’ve had a reasonably high level of success,” Leach said. “Then, all of a sudden in some key situation where it’s thrown at them and would hit them in the face if their hands weren’t in the way and then they drop it.”
Tuel had a more positive outlook, but still expressed his frustration with losing games.
“No one likes losing and then trying to find a positive thing out of it,” Tuel said. “But it’s just the nature of the beast in the position we’re in right now, so I’d much rather be up here saying, ‘Hey we won, it was great, there was a lot of positives from it.’ But, that’s not the case so you’ve got to try to be positive with every circumstance and every outcome, and that’s what we’re going to do and we’re going to move on.”