March 13, 2012

Doege draws best response

What we knew heading into spring

Anyone that followed the program through the latter half of last season knew head coach Tommy Tuberville would once again be counting on last year's starting quarterback Seth Doege to be his signal caller in 2012.

It's the natural decision after Doege threw for 4,004 yards and 28 touchdowns at the helms of a severely crippled offense that lost its No. 1 star in running back Eric Stephens.

In the battle for No. 2, Michael Brewer made a case during last season's practices to compete with Jacob Karam for the backup role this spring in lieu of a struggling Scotty Young that Brewer had already surpassed. The decision to try Brewer out at the No. 2 quarterback was made easy with Karam's decision to transfer to Memphis for more playing time and Young's decision to leave the Red Raider football roster for other opportunities.

Unfortunately, Karam and Young's decisions left the Red Raiders without a third scholarship quarterback. The role currently belongs to walk-on Brant Castillas, but most Red Raider followers believe the No. 3 job will go to Tech quarterback signee Clayton Nicholas once he arrives on campus this summer.

For spring ball purposes, Doege and Brewer appeared to have enough to get the job done and both quarterbacks appeared more than qualified for the positions they were inheriting at the start of the spring practice sessions.

What we know at the midway point of spring ball:

Not much separates Brewer from Doege in terms of throwing and pocket presence, but on days the offense really gets going Doege seems to be more in charge of the momentum shift.

The quarterbacks are very similar. Both have good passing strength and Brewer has a pretty good edge on mobility both within and outside the pocket.

But what really matters is how the offense responds to the quarterbacks. The one that can draw the best response from the rest of the unit this fall will be the starter.

As of today, Doege gets the best response.

The Red Raider offense has struggled through 10 practices largely due to the fact starting receivers Eric Ward and Alex Torres are sidelined with injuries. A lot of Doege's success in the passing game last season came by way of his timing with those two receivers so the struggles aren't that surprising. Furthermore, Stephens and DeAndre Washington's knee injuries have limited depth at the running back position to make the spring first team offense a lot different than what is projected to be the starting offense come August.

But when the offense gets going, and it has only had two good outings collectively, it's because Doege takes charge of it with a different cast than the one he's accustomed to. When Doege comes on, the timing issues go away, the windows he needs get smaller and pass completion numbers go up. At that point the receivers respond to him and then the running and blocking games come along with it.

Brewer's success, and he's had a lot this spring, seems isolated to himself. The offense as a whole does not seem to respond as well when Brewer has the hot hand.

Both quarterbacks look like they can start for the Red Raiders, but the edge has to go to Doege right now.

Projecting the offseason:

Both Doege and Brewer have had big years in the weight room, especially Brewer who gained some 20 pounds and two inches of height from last spring. The gains should continue this summer.

Nicholas will join the program and get the incredible opportunity to be the third string quarterback, learn from two very good quarterbacks in front of him and to begin Joe Walker's first year workout regiment which has produced really good results across the team.

The players Doege works best with in Ward, Torres and possibly Stephens will return this spring which should further help last season's starting quarterback.

Doege will start the 2012 season.

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