Kyle Whittingham was asked the other day about his quarterback situation — for the 15,000th time in the past two weeks. His eyes didn’t roll back in their sockets like a steer hit in the head with a hammer, but they could have. His response was the same it’s always been.
“It’s whoever performs better,” he said. “Bottom line, it’s who executes the offense better.”
At this point in preseason football camps, a couple of weeks in, question-and-answer fatigue firms up in the manner of drying concrete in the foundation of a new building. Maybe it’s there before the cement is even mixed or poured. Maybe it’s the nature of the thing, simply a game of cat-and-mouse or dodge ball. Maybe it’s just part of preseason psychology.
Whittingham and Kalani Sitake and Troy Taylor and Ty Detmer and others are evaluating, making drawn-out decisions and then are asked by reporters the same questions about those decisions, everyone on the outside looking for the latest updates, wondering if anything’s changed since … well, yesterday.
Usually, nothing has.
Still, we’re searching for definitive answers. There are precious few. And then, we wonder if the coaches really have the answers, and just aren’t saying. Or, if they really don’t, and should.
You think when Whittingham is asked about whether Troy Williams, Tyler Huntley or Cooper Bateman will be the starter, and he answers, saying there is no real timetable for a decision, that he really has no clue? He said, “We’d like to get down to two guys taking reps by sometime next week. That would be ideal.”
No. What would be ideal is already knowing who your offensive leader is, who will be manning the most important position on the field, who the guy is to whom all the other players can look for leadership and confidence and inspiration. And propping him up the way your team leader should be propped.
That’s what would be ideal.
You have to wonder, as mentioned, if the coaches actually do know who the starter will be, and all of this is a ruse. They’re playing out this exercise in the name of competition, as a means of keeping everybody on their toes, or keeping guys from transferring, or as a way of showing that whoever the starter is will have “earned” the privilege.
Don’t we all kind of suspect it will be Williams?
If it’s not, and the Utes have three quarterbacks, does it mean — as the old saying goes — they have none? Shouldn’t a star already have shined here?
Same with the running backs situation at BYU. The Cougars, with the departure of Jamaal Williams, now supposedly have six of them. Or is it none? If BYU really has a half dozen runners who are all equal, its ground-game is screwed. Detmer used dreaded words the other day when talking about the way his running back position would be filled: “By committee.”
“They all bring something different to the table,” he said, adding that he “wouldn’t be surprised to see them all get a touch” against Portland State.
Everybody panic. That’s more bad news than good.
On the other hand, don’t we all know Squally Canada will be the guy, even if Detmer won’t come right out and say it?
It’s all part of the game.
Still, we ask the questions, a hundred of ’em, and write down the truthful and untruthful responses. We want to know if the new offense is going to feature a more balanced attack, how the back end of the defense is shaping up, who the starter at left guard will be, which of the receivers has the most wiggle, how the tight ends are coming along, what the role of the third-string linebacker will be, and how, exactly, the coaches felt about the taste of the dijon mustard spread across their lunchmeat sandwiches served up before practice.
Yeah, in all of this there’s weariness, and perhaps a couple of dashes of paranoia, in the minds and voices of the coaches as they do these dances.
The other day, Detmer, as smart an offensive mind as there is, was asked whether his offense had bested the defense yet during camp. It was a relatively elementary question that could have been answered with a yes or no. But you would have thought, from his answer, that he was asked what the role is of primordial emotions in the evolutionary origin of consciousness.
He wasn’t quite sure.
“Really, it’s, you know, every play’s, it’s daily, every play’s different,” he said. “Our defense throws a lot at us. So, sometimes we coach against a certain look and we get a different look, and, you know, it kind of changes things, and we gotta react on the fly. This year, being year two, I feel like we’re able to do that a little more with an experienced offensive line, like we have. They’ve kind of taken ownership of that and been able to handle things on the fly when we see a different look for the first time. Then, usually, you go back and coach it, and get it right the next time. So, that’s gonna happen every week. You see something you haven’t prepared for, so you go to the sideline and fix it and then hopefully do it right the next time.”
With kickoff just a couple of weeks away now, we’ll go on asking the tired questions and getting the uncertain, sleepy answers — and numbing non-answers. There’s no timetable for the truth. It will arrive when it does.
GORDON MONSON hosts “The Big Show” with Spence Checketts weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on 97.5 FM and 1280 AM The Zone. Twitter: @GordonMonson.