With one week of preseason practice in the books, San Jose State University football head coach Ron Caragher narrowed the competition for the number-one quarterback role from three hopefuls to two. Senior and returning starter Joe Gray and junior college transfer Kenny Potter are scheduled to get the bulk of practice opportunities for the foreseeable future. Returning redshirt Malik Watson, a junior, was the third candidate for the quarterback position when practice started on August 4.
"After the first week, we felt two quarterbacks rose to the top of the competition. That's Joe Gray and Kenny Potter. They both had good first weeks moving the team down the field and making key plays. I'm very encouraged by that. Obviously, I tell the guys `never remove yourself from competition, whether it's Malik or Mitch Ravizza. Always stay in tuned and dialed in, because your number may come up,'" said the Spartans coach who had three starting quarterbacks a year ago. Ravizza, a fourth-year junior, started the final game of 2014; Gray, seven; and Blake Jurich, the starter in the season opener, started four times. Gray completed 63.6 percent of his passes for 2,305 yards and 11 touchdowns.
"They still will be getting repetitions. In the sense of the offense moving forward, we need to increase the repetitions for those two quarterbacks (Gray & Potter)."
QUALITIES OF A #1-QB
Caragher, a former quarterback for UCLA, also addressed some of the qualities he seeks in a top-notch quarterback.
"The quarterback is not about the guy with the strongest arm or who can throw it the farthest or the guy who looks good throwing the ball in routes against air. The quarterback is about leading your team -- the ultimate leader. He needs to rally the troops when the chips are down.
I've said this before. You want that guy to be mentally tough. He can fight through adversity whether it is a two-minute drill, 3rd-and-long yardage, whether he gets drilled or sacked. You want him to bounce up and want him to lead his teammates.
There are so many other factors involved. We look at completion ratio, interception and touchdown ratio, efficiency of quarterback play, and make a fair choice. We feel like right now we are in a position to reduce the competition from three to two.
The San Jose State head coach would put a definite timetable on when a starting quarterback would be named for the September 3 season opener at home against New Hampshire. However, he said it would be nice to know the week before the game or sooner whom the starting quarterback is if either Gray or Potter pulls significantly ahead of the other.
EVALUATING EACH QUARTERBACK
Caragher pointed out the traits Gray and Potter bring to the Spartans.
"Joe's footwork improved tremendously from the spring. That's what will help him when you rely on when making all throws in a timely manner -- that the passes time out with the receiver routes. That's really helped him. We haven't gone into the red zone or the two-minute offense. That will put pressure on the (QB) position and we'll see how he improves in that area.
"Kenny is a very athletic quarterback. That's one of his strengths when the pocket pressure hits him. He has done a good job making plays with his feet and it adds another element for the defense to defend.
"I'm encouraged. Both are having good weeks. As we finished the installation of our offense, now, it's round number-two. Go through it again and see how they master it," concluded the San Jose State head coach.
The Spartans final two-a-day preseason practice is Wednesday, August 12. The annual Spartan Football Fan Fest is Saturday, August 22, and the public is invited to watch a 4:00 p.m. scrimmage and meet the team afterwards.
Season, group and individual tickets to six home games are available by calling the Spartan Athletic Ticket Office at (408) 924-1217 (office) or by visiting sjsuspartans.com.