It sounds as if Bill O’Brien is close to naming his starting quarterback.
He said as much in a short teleconference this morning at the midway point of preseason camp.For today, though, “the update is that it’s very even,” O’Brien said about true freshman Christian Hackenberg and junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson. “I spoke to both guys this morning and told them that I couldn’t be prouder of where they’re at right now and how hard they’ve worked.”
So, on naming a starter, “We’ll let that play out a few more days.”
Hackenberg was arguably the top pro-style quarterback in the country last year. The downside is that he’s never taken a college snap and just arrived on campus in June.
Ferguson is older and went through spring practice at Penn State. But he has never taken a game snap in major college football, and he also missed all voluntary team workouts in July while back home in California.
Both young quarterbacks seem to be doing well in absorbing O’Brien’s complex offense.
“We don’t need to hold back much with Christian, or with Tyler,” O’Brien said. “These are bright guys, they study. They improve on things they make mistakes with before.”
A bit later, O’Brien was asked again about naming a first-time starter.
“I’m pretty close. I don’t know if I have an exact day yet. Whoever I name as a starter, the next guy quite obviously has to be ready to go and more than likely will play this year. In my experience in 20 years of doing this, in many, many times … guys who were 1A or 1B played a lot of football for us. Let’s not put too much stock in who the starter is. He’ll start the game but the other guy is going to play football for us this year.”
“I do believe in playing one QB, but it’s hard to rule out anything. We’ll do what’s best for the team.”
Which seems to mean that O’Brien should have his starter decided before game week practices for the Syracuse opener begin on Monday, Aug. 26.