The past two years Tulsa football has had the luxury of knowing exactly who their QB was. Every Saturday the players, the coaches, and the fans all knew and accepted that Dane Evans would be the signal caller. This year, Tulsa does not have that luxury.
Here is what Coach Montgomery told the Tulsa Athletics writer Don Tomkalski :
“We’re not going to name a starter until we get into fall camp and it will probably be several weeks into fall camp,” said Montgomery. “We’ll see how those guys continue to battle with each other. The competition has been really good. They’re stepping up, they’re learning a lot, and until we get them under the lights you never know.”
QB battles are not fun. Growing up as a life-long OSU fan, I’ve lived through a few of them. For a QB to separate and establish himself as the starter, he has the play nearly flawless football. If one of the QBs falters even slightly, the fans are going to be yelling for the other guy to come in. Inevitably, this causes the players and coaches to begin to question who should be taking the snaps. This can be quite damaging to a team’s confidence, and personally I think it hinders the QBs ability to play freely.
Since Mike Gundy took over in 2005, when OSU had an open ‘QB battle’ in the spring/summer they are 36-27, while going 68-23 when the starter was decided before practice even started. I chose OSU because that is the team I knew the most history of, but I’m sure that this holds true for every team. Use your own personal experience, when has having a QB battle turned out well for the team as a whole?
Tulsa currently has three QBs on the roster, and will have one more added this summer when Seth Boomer arrives on campus. I will break down what I have seen from each guy, then I will conclude my thoughts about who will take the job.
- Chad President – RS Sophomore
Chad is the prized 4 star recruit from Monty’s first recruiting class in 2015, and the odds on favorite to be the starting QB in 2017. President only started playing QB his junior year in HS, but garnered national attention due to his elite athleticism. He lead Temple HS to a state title his senior season, and was named one of the top 300 prospects in America. Chad has seen limited time at QB in his first two years at Tulsa. In 2015, Chad was brought in during a road contest vs East Carolina. After 3 scoreless quarters, Chad helped the Golden Hurricane to a 17-point 4th quarter. After that game, Chad was occasionally brought in to run the ball, and he did so effectively his freshman season. Last season Chad appeared in the first game of the season, but suffered a fractured leg bone which caused him to miss the rest of the year, he was granted a medical redshirt.
There are two main concerns regarding Chad President. First: Can he throw the ball with the strength and accuracy that this offense demands? There is no question that Chad has the athleticism and running ability to be an elite AAC QB, but his passing game is totally unproven. Chad’s career passing numbers are 1-5 for 9 yards, and he has not shown the ability to pass the ball in his three spring games.
The second concern is, can Chad stay healthy? This is not really an issue specific to Chad, all dual-threat QBs have this concern. While mobile QBs are extremely fun to watch, they rarely are able to stay healthy throughout an entire season due to the number of hits they take. Chad was knocked out for the year last season, and it never seemed he was fully healthy during freshman campaign either. Sure, injuries happen to everyone, but for QBs it is imperative that they are out there for every snap.
- Luke Skipper – RS Freshman
Luke was a 3-star recruit in the 2016 class out of Forney, Texas. TU was Skipper’s only division 1 offer, but he had a prolific high school career. As a 3-year starter in HS, Skipper threw for 5000 yards and 55 touchdowns, while gaining 2,357 yards and 26 touchdowns on the ground. Skipper redshirted last season for TU.
Luke and Chad split time as first-team QB during the spring game. Skipper had more success than Chad did, as he lead the team on 4 scoring drives accounting for 24 points (compared to Chad’s 3 drives for 21 points). Skipper also had a higher completion percentage, 16-24 for 173 yards and two touchdowns.
So is Luke Skipper ready to be the starting QB when Tulsa travels to Oklahoma State to start the season? It appears from our limited sample size that Skipper has more arm talent than President, but Chad’s extra year of experience in this offense cannot be discounted. There were times during the spring game when Skipper looked uncomfortable, and #sources have told us that he (along with Chad) have made a couple mistakes in spring practices.
- Will Hefley – RS Sophomore
Hefley put up ridiculous numbers in high school. He attended Pulaski Academy in Arkansas (AKA the team that never punts). During his 3-year career, he passed for 9,795 yards and 128 touchdowns! His senior season he lead Pulaski Academy to a state title, passed for 4,897 yards, and was named Arkansas 5A player of the year. Despite his high school success and 6’5″ frame, Hefley was only lightly recruited, he was a 2-star recruit for the 2015 class.
Hefley has yet to appear in a game while at TU, so the only thing we can judge him off of is his spring game performances. He had a poor performance in the 2016 game, but had a bit of a better showing last week. He recorded the longest pass of the day when he connected with David Snelling for an 80-yard touchdown. Still though, Hefley only completed 4-7 passes, and had the only interception of the day.
At this point, Hefley is probably a long-shot to be named the starter. He has all the tools to be successful (strong arm, smart guy, mature leader), but he has yet to show the ability to get comfortable in the pocket.
- Seth Boomer – Freshman
The final participant in the QB battle will be true freshman Seth Boomer. Boomer is a Green Country product from Collinsville, and like Hefley, is a pro-style QB. With no one emerging from the QB battle so far, that leads some to think that Boomer can come in and compete immediately for the job. Boomer had a solid junior and senior campaigns for the Collinsville Cardinals, but he didn’t do anything spectacular enough to make me think he’ll be the Tulsa’s starter in 2017.
As I mentioned earlier, I don’t particularly like QB battles. I think that players perform better whenever they feel free to perform. Unfortunately, none of these four guys have earned the right to be given that freedom.
President is interesting to me. I have never really been a fan of dual-threat QBs, but it is clear with the success of Baker Mayfield, Lamar Jackson, Greg Ward, etc that college football is trending that direction. Having a dual-threat QB improves your running attack, and they can make things happen when a play breaks down. The problem with Chad President though is that I’m not sure if he is a “dual-threat QB” I think Chad is an athlete who can throw, but I’m just not sure if I can qualify him as a QB. His arm strength worries me, and he is quick to drop his eyes when the rush closes in. Skipper hasn’t been much better, but in my opinion he looks like a more natural thrower of the football.
I remember a conversation I had with one of my friends a few months ago, regarding the QB situation for 2017. We were talking about how we were going to replace Dane, and he said something to the effect of “Sheesh, all we need is a guy that can hand it off to Brewer.”
While that isn’t entirely true, I think that there is some truth to what he is saying. Given how strong our run game is going to be in 2017, I think it is most advantageous for Monty to choose the QB who can throw the ball the best. With our strong offensive line, Brewer, and Warren, I am not worried about our ability to move the ball on the ground. What I am worried about is not having a QB who can spread it across the field, because then the defense will be able to load the box and focus on the run.
So yes, Chad at QB would add a dynamic element to our running attack, but is that what we really need? What we need is a QB can throw the ball sideline to sideline.
I predict that Chad will be the starter in Stillwater, but I also think we’ll see Hefley and Skipper play meaningful minutes in the nonconference. Hopefully the starter becomes obvious after the first four games, and we’ll be ready to go for AAC play.