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James Madison's search continues for a QB
James Madison football coach Mickey Matthews doesn’t usually conduct a lot of live scrimmages during the preseason, but that’s about to change.
The Dukes, who begin practice today, have to settle on a quarterback to lead an offense in need of some playmakers.
Matthews was hoping to name a starter in the spring, but injuries limited the number of scrimmages and the ability to evaluate redshirt junior Justin Thorpe, redshirt freshman transfer Billy Cosh and redshirt freshman Jace Edwards.
“I would love to make a decision the fourth practice, but I don’t think that’s possible,” said Matthews, whose team, projected to finish second in the Colonial Athletic Association, opens Sept. 3 at North Carolina.
Thorpe has the only game experience (12) and was the CAA’s rookie of the year in 2009 (654 yards rushing, 5 touchdowns; 82-145, 1,260 yards passing, 6 TDs, 9 interceptions). But the All-Metro pick from Varina High injured his knee in the first game last year and missed the rest of the season.
The 6-foot-1, 215-pounder only was able to participate in eight spring practices, with no live work.
Cosh transferred from Kansas State. The 6-2, 215-pounder holds Maryland prep career records for passing yards (7,433) and touchdown passes (112). Edwards, who’s 6-2, 195 pounds, threw for 1,337 yards and ran for 902 yards as a high school senior in Texas.
“Billy is certainly not the runner the other guys are,” Matthews said. “Jace is a solid runner, not a great runner. Justin is one of the five fastest kids on the team. When he was a freshman, he threw the ball pretty well. Now sometimes he threw it to the wrong jersey.”
Matthews wants to see the ball in the hands of redshirt sophomore wide receiver Dae’Quan Scott, who probably will see time at quarterback in a Wildcat package and at running back.
Scott, who missed a significant part of spring practice with an injury, played extensively at quarterback in the final two games and helped the Dukes to wins over William and Mary and Maine.
He had 125 yards and three TDs rushing against the Tribe. Scott started at quarterback against Maine and ran for 61 yards and one TD. He threw only two passes in both games.
“There was no better offensive player in the league in the last two games last year,” Matthews said. “We’re really concerned about how many touches he’s going to get, whether it’s at wideout or quarterback or wherever.
“I’ve always said the hardest thing to do in football is find your best 11 players and get them on the field. We know Dae’Quan is one of our best 11. We’re not sure which position.”
The Dukes averaged 17.7 points last year and 22 in 2009, low outputs that led to a pair of 6-5 seasons and prompted Matthews to take over play-calling duties.
Any scheme changes will depend on the strengths of the quarterback.
“I think we’re going to have to determine who our quarterback is,” he said, “and go from there.”
By: Tim Pearrell, Richmond Times-Dispatch