Everything about this college football season is unprecedented, but midway through training camp, UNLV is faced with a big question that is all too precedented.
Who is the starting quarterback?
If new head coach Marcus Arroyo has an idea of who his QB1 will be when the season begins, he gave no clues when he met with the media on Monday.
In a virtual press conference, Arroyo said four quarterbacks have split reps fairly evenly over the first two weeks of camp, and that the starter will be determined over the next two weeks leading up to the Oct. 24 season opener at San Diego State.
Arroyo acknowledged there are certain challenges to getting his quarterbacks up to speed in an environment that has featured more classroom work than field work during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“They’ve all done a good job of trying to learn the system,” Arroyo said. “One thing that we take into consideration is the fact they’ve never run our system. I can’t assume what they put on tape, they’re being taught the way we’re teaching it.”
Through most of the offseason, the quarterback situation was framed as a battle between sophomore holdover Kenyon Oblad, the Liberty product who wrested the job from Armani Rogers last season, and newcomer Justin Rogers, a former prized recruit who transferred in from TCU during the offseason.
As a redshirt freshman in 2019, Oblad completed 54.2 percent of his passes for 2,081 yards and 18 touchdowns, with nine interceptions. He played his best game in the season finale, throwing for 229 yards and three TDs with zero interceptions in an overtime road win against rival UNR.
Rogers was the No. 52 overall prospect in the Class of 2018 but suffered a knee injury that cost him almost his entire senior year of high school. He subsequently never saw the field at TCU. Now healthy, the redshirt sophomore is firmly in the mix for UNLV.
Arroyo also said senior Max Gilliam and true freshman Doug Brumfield are competing for the top spot.
Arroyo’s take on each of the quarterbacks to this point in camp:
“You like the fact that K.O. has been in the game and been around and seen live bullets. He hasn’t done it with your system, but he’s exhibiting the fact that he’s been in some live reps in this conference.”
“Max has done a great job, coming in, same thing, older guys who’s transferred around and now he’s here with a good attitude and working through the system.”
“Justin really hasn’t had much college football at all. He got injured there at TCU and then he got here. He’s done a good job of getting himself back in a groove; he’s been out of football for a while.”
“Doug as the true freshman has exhibited some things we saw on film that we hoped would come into play.”
Arroyo credited offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach Glenn Thomas for working with each QB and teaching them the intricacies of the system.
Whoever eventually wins the starting job will be the player who best executes the fundamentals while also providing the big-play capability that Arroyo craves from the position.
“I think the starter, as we work throughout the system, has to be able to do the things that win for us, and that’s take care of the football, manage the game, make good decisions,” Arroyo said. “All the things that may sound cliché at the quarterback position, but find some explosive plays, know how to deliver and work through our progressions.”