One of the most intriguing quotes from UAB football head coach Bill Clark on Wednesday came was when he was asked to name some players to watch on offense.
Now you can take quotes with a grain a salt sometimes, but it was interesting that he mentioned both quarterbacks.
Here is the part of the quote about the quarterbacks:
Well I think you got two quarterbacks. A.J. Erdely who was at Middle Tennessee years ago and he’s come out as our leader. Tyler Johnston, who was the player of the year in the state of Alabama, is going to be very good.
Now first of all, what is coach Clark going to say? There really is no perfect answer to that question unless you name every player on offense, which he tried to do.
Still, the fact that he mentioned both quarterbacks leads us to believe that we could see both Erdely and Johnston this year. Whether they both compete for the starting job, or one has a certain role in the offense.
My first impression of these two quarterbacks came in the first scrimmage last fall. In that game I thought Erdely looked leaps and bounds better than Johnston. Erdely was 17-of-31 in that game for 253 yards and a touchdown. He also added 44 yards on the ground a score. Johnston was 14-of-30 for 104 yards, but looked really bad throwing 4 interceptions. He did run the ball well rushing for 61 yards on 8 carries.
At that point I was convinced that Erdely was the quarterback for this team.
Johnston was a little bit better in the second scrimmage throwing for 216 yards and a touchdown, but he also threw 2 interceptions, giving him six in two games. He added a touchdown on the ground, but had just nine net yards running the football.
Meanwhile, Erdely was just 13-of-30 passing in the second scrimmage and threw a pick, but he did throw for 2 touchdowns and 199 yards.
I think both quarterbacks were pretty even in the second scrimmage, but I would still give the edge to Erdely.
And then in the spring game they split snaps with the first team. Both quarterbacks played very well in that game. Johnston was 8-of-12 passing for 161 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 33 net yards and a touchdowns. Erdely was very efficient completing 7-of-10 passes for 108 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for 59 yards with a long of 20.
So through three scrimmages both quarterbacks have been pretty even. The turnovers are the main thing that worry me with Johnston. I know he has the ability to be a big play-maker, but turnovers can be very costly and UAB can’t afford them — especially this year when they’ll be in a lot of tight games.
I still think Erdely is the guy. He’s been the guy from the beginning, and he’s done nothing that would make you think he can’t get the job done efficiently.
I don’t really see how you can use both quarterbacks because they both do similar things. They’ve both shown they can run the ball effectively, so it’s not like you’d bring Johnston in as a wild cat option at quarterback.
I do think we see both quarterbacks in the Alabama A&M game to start the season. But beyond that I think it’s best to stick with Erdely at quarterback and let this be his team. Johnston will have his chance at quarterback down the road, but I’m never in favor of a timeshare at quarterback unless they do different things.
I think coach Clark was just being nice in mentioning both quarterbacks. And they are both very talented, and I think both will be very good quarterbacks for UAB. But I don’t think it’s a good idea to toy with the notion of using two quarterbacks. Let the best one win the job, and let him lead the team without having to look over his shoulder.