The time is now for MSU quarterbacks

2014-03-18T22:30:00Z 2014-03-18T23:47:30Z The time is now for MSU quarterbacksGreg Rachac The Billings Gazette

It's not the only spring position battle at Montana State, but it's the most important one. And the question will be asked from now until fall camp: Who will be the Bobcats' next starting quarterback?

MSU won't be able to simply replace DeNarius McGhee. McGhee was a four-year starter who set several passing records and became the winningest QB in program history. He was the face of Bobcat Football. He helped put them back on the map.

After last season, coach Rob Ash declared the quarterback competition open for the taking as McGhee walked out the door. Instead of giving junior-to-be Jake Bleskin the reins, the Cats want to also give Tanner Roderick, Dakota Prukop and Quinn McQueary equal looks. Bleskin started two games and showed great ability when McGhee was hurt, but the job is not automatically his.

"We are officially opening up the position for a fair fight for all four guys -- Jake, Roderick, and McQueary and Prukop," Ash said at the time. "Jake obviously has the edge as far as experience and age and playing time, and we did have that conversation with Jake, too. Just for the sake of good competition we’re going to officially say it’s open right now. We’re going to rotate guys around and get a good look at everybody and see what happens. And they all know that and they’re very excited about it.”

It's a smart move. The competition is designed bring out the best in each guy. 

In Tim Cramsey's offense -- and virtually everyone else's -- the quarterback must be a dual threat player. He must be able to throw, run, and be durable as part of a read-option setup. Bleskin, Roderick, Prukop and McQueary have those skills, although Bleskin seems like more of a dropback-style pocket passer than the others. 

It will be interesting to see how Roderick acclimates back to quarterback after playing receiver last season. Roderick is a quarterback by trade, and was the No. 1 recruit in Montana his senior year at Bozeman High when he signed to play at Nevada. He threw for 2,457 yards, ran for 1,913 more and scored 51 total TDs that year.

Spring drills started Tuesday in Bozeman. The team will have 15 practices, culminating with the final spring game on April 19. May the QB competition be fierce until then.

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Greg Rachac

Sportswriter for The Billings Gazette covering Montana and Montana State athletics in addition to various high school sports.

Slim Kimmel

Online sports editor for The Billings Gazette.

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