Quarterback battle will carry into fall camp

Published 8:48 pm Monday, April 22, 2019

It was a cool and blustery day during Troy’s T-Day scrimmage on Saturday morning and the Trojan quarterbacks were put to the test.

Four quarterbacks played the majority of the scrimmage on Saturday. Incumbent starter Sawyer Smith and Gunnar Watson represented the grey team, while Jacob Free and Gavin Screws played for the white squad.

In the grand scheme of things, it was the grey team that came away with a 26-7 win.

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Smith had the honor of running the first play of the scrimmage. The incumbent starter completed 13 of his 26 passes for 99 yards and a touchdown.

“I’ll speak for myself and probably the other quarterbacks; we wish we could get some of those throws back,” Smith said. “Overall, I thought we had a pretty good day and looked sharp. We have to play in wind, rain – the only thing we can’t play in is lightning. We have to be able to throw in that. I kind of figured it out and started throwing it better.”

Watson found success late and completed 12-of-20 for 148 yards and a touchdown.

“I feel a lot more comfortable out here,” Watson said. “We competed today and we make each other better every single day.”

“It was a tough day throwing because of the wind,” Lindsey said. “Sawyer has obviously played a lot with Kaleb out and l thought Gunnar came in and did a good job too.”

Free finished his outing having completed 4-of-10 for 31 yards and Screws completed five of his eight passes for 60 yards.

Kaleb Barker started the first six games last season before hurting his knee, forcing himself out of the lineup for the second half of the season. After Smith finished the season a year ago, the position is once again open for the taking.

“Today we had Sawyer and Gunnar with the first group and Jacob and Gavin with the second group,” Lindsey said. “That is going to continue to run its course throughout the fall camp. We will narrow it down as we get closer. We really want to take this game and evaluate the decision making, the communication. It’s not about stats so much because we rotate so much. I want guys that can communicate and take charge of the offense.

Coming off the knee injury, Barker has received plenty of reps this spring, although he did not get into the spring game for precautionary reasons.

“He has had a great spring,” Lindsey said. “He has had all of the seven-on-seven work. Kaleb has done a nice job. He has learned our system and I think he has proven that he is capable of winning football games here as well as Sawyer.”

Under former head coach Neal Brown, it wasn’t uncommon to see multiple quarterbacks during games. Lindsey has yet to announce whether he will utilize multiple quarterbacks.

“I think it’s too early for that,” Lindsey said. “We have a great thing going here. We have two quarterbacks that have played and won games here and another guy that is coming along pretty good. We’re really excited about that room in general and I think they have all grown some this spring.”