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August 4, 2013

Quarterback Decision Looming



The Houston Cougars got their 2013 pre-season camp officially underway on Saturday with an evening practice in front of a solid turnout of fans following the team's annual Fan Appreciation Day held earlier in the afternoon. Saturday morning, the team held it's annual Media Day where local media showed up to get a chance to get a little more in depth with coaches and players.

One subject that has loomed large in any conversation about the 2013 Cougars has been the quarterback position and who will emerge from the team's pre-season camp as the starter when the Cougars open their season up against visiting Southern in Reliant Stadium on August 30.

Head coach Tony Levine addressed the quarterback battle in the Media Day's opening press conference addressing a timetable for a decision as well as some of the factors that will go into the decision.

"I've talked about this at different times publicly at length over the last couple of weeks, and it's something that is going to be accelerated.," said Levine. "We are going to make a decision in two weeks as to who our starter is for the season. We've talked to those guys and they know that they're being evaluated on everything. We certainly will chart their completions, their interceptions, their percentages at practice, their decision making at practice, but they are being evaluated in their leadership, in how they stretch when they get out on the field, in everything they do over the next few weeks."

The incumbent in the race to see who will pilot the ship to start the season is junior David Piland who had his share of ups and downs during the 2012 season. Piland looked crisp in the spring and in the first practice Saturday, looked to be in command of the offense.He will be pushed though by junior college transfer Billy Cosh as well as a pair of freshmen in John O'Korn and Greg Ward.

First year offensive coordinator Doug Meacham also talked about what he will be looking for early on in order to help in the decision process.

"I'm looking for guys with the mental twitch that can handle the speed of the communication and the speed of the offense that is going to be huge for me, said Meacham. "There's a lot put on the ability to throw a pass, but for us the ability to play the position is very important. Being a quarterback, what does that mean? It's a guy that can get you in-and-out of the right place and guy who can communicate to the backs, the line and the receivers. We're looking for a guy who can make nice, quick decisions. There are guys here now that have been in the system that have shown the capability of doing that. So for us it'll be finding out what the new guys can do for us as far as leadership is concerned. Based on film, they can throw the football, otherwise they wouldn't be here."

Meacham will have some experience to draw from in regards to working through quarterback battles, he was around several of them in his time at Oklahoma State.

"At OSU I believe I was involved in three occasions like this," said Meacham of his prior time with Oklahoma State. "The most notable of those was probably with Brandon Weeden. When Dana (Holgorsen) came in we changed the style of offense we were running and Brandon was the guy that most fit the style we were running.

Meacham also talked about balancing what the staff already knows about the quarterbacks that have been in the system, and have had game experience at Houston, against those new comers who are getting their first work in the system.

"This fall, the new guys are going to get reps and it'll be the best that we can manage it," he said. "There's going to be opportunities for several guys to get reps and we'll see how it goes. I can't predict what's going to happen, I'm just going to watch and evaluate. There's a guy or two that has an advantage because he's been here, and knows the system. The new guys are going to make mental mistakes because of the speed and how we do things offensively. We have to judge their ability, and see what they can do long term. For the first week to 10 days these guys will be evaluated individually."

Although you can not re-create game situations as far as pressure and the need for quick effective decisions, the quarterbacks are well aware of the competition playing out in the first couple of weeks. They know they are under the microscope of the staff and that alone will create some pressure.

CougarsDen will follow this as well as several other key position battles throughout camp, so continue to check in as we bring the latest from the Cougars' camp and their preparations for the upcoming season.

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