HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — The end of Marshall’s spring semester is still several weeks away, but final exams are Saturday for the Thundering Herd football team.
Spring drills conclude with the annual Green/White scrimmage and it will be the last time coaches get to evaluate several key positions before fall camp.
“I’m looking to see who can handle being out of the field without a coach standing beside him giving him a reminder, with people in the stands,” said offensive coordinator Bill Legg on The Stampede podcast.
“How are you going to react in that situation? It’s an opportunity to gain game experience and a chance to see who you’re going to react in those game situations.”
That is still an unknown for the most high profile position for the Herd. Of the four quarterbacks, competing to seize the No. 1 spot, only junior Gunnar Holcombe has any FBS game experience. He appeared in nine games last season—in mop up duty—completing 12 passes for 119 yards.
Junior transfer Michael Birdsong was a starter at James Madison University and ran Marshall’s scout team offense last season, but doesn’t have experience at the FBS level. However, Legg says Birdsong has separated himself from the other quarterbacks and if it were Purdue on the schedule Saturday, Birdsong would get the starting nod.
“Mike has done a better job of being consistent so far and heading into the summer he’ll have the edge,” Legg said.
But Holcombe, along with sophomore Cole Garvin and freshman Chase Litton. are not far behind.
“Really they’re all packed in there pretty tight. A point here and a point there is going to make a significant difference,” said Legg. “The good thing is have four guys who have all the physical guys who can do all things we want them to do in our offense. The bad news is we have four guys to choose from.”
Legg and his offensive assistants will evaluate every play from every practice this spring to grade each of the quarterbacks.
“I’m grading them on; do they understand what they’re supposed to be doing? Do they understand how it’s supposed to be done? Do they understand the rhythm of each play? And are they giving our guys chances to make plays?”
Like a biology final, each quarterback must apply everything he has learned to demonstrate a handle on the offensive scheme. However, in this class only one player can receive a passing grade and be named the next starting quarterback.