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No word yet on winner of BYU QB battle

After Saturday scrimmage, the 3 QBs still in dark

SHARE No word yet on winner of BYU QB battle

PROVO — The first week of two-a-days is over, but BYU coaches say they still don't know who will quarterback the Cougars in the season-opener against Florida State on Aug. 26.

The three quarterbacks vying for the job don't know what's going to happen, either, though each is preparing as if he will be the starter. "We're in the dark as much as you," said sophomore quarterback Bret Engemann. "I can't pay attention to the competition. I concentrate on what I need to do to get the starting job."

"It hasn't been talked about," said junior quarterback Charlie Peterson. "You can't think about it. You just go to work every day." He added that he fully expects to play against Florida State.

"I don't know when we'll make a decision. We're talking, but we haven't come up with a decision," said offensive coordinator Lance Reynolds. "We're trying to let them sort it out on the field."

The first real test of fall camp came during a 100-play, full-contact scrimmage Saturday morning at Cougar Stadium. In that type of setting, Reynolds said, "It's more realistic (than a practice). The closer to game-type conditions, the easier it is to decipher who's going to get done what you want done."

Engemann presented an impressive case for himself, throwing a pair of touchdown passes — a 35-yard floater to wide receiver Margin Hooks and a 10-yarder to tight end Tevita Ofahengaue — and unofficially finished with 104 yards on 8-of-16 attempts. He also had one interception.

Junior Brandon Doman, meanwhile, completed 11 of 15 passes for 97 yards and scored a touchdown after bobbling the snap at the 1-yard line and plunging into the end zone. Peterson was 6-of-14 with 61 yards and two interceptions.

"Average" was the word Peterson chose to describe his day. But he believes the decision will be based on cumulative effort, not on one day's performance. "There's a lot of things that could have gone better, but that's why we practice. I'm not putting much stock into (what happened) today. It's a consistency thing."

Meanwhile, the Cougar defense should be credited for making it tough for the quarterbacks. It did a pretty good imitation of the Florida State defense, recording eight sacks, including one apiece by defensive linemen Hans Olsen and Brett Keisel and linebacker Isaac Kelley.

"We've got a good front four, don't let anybody kid you about that," Peterson said.

Cornerbacks Danny Phillips and Derrus Wilson and safety Tyson Smith each intercepted a pass.

"It's good for our offense to go up against guys like that," Reynolds said of the defense. "Those guys do a great job of giving our offense a look at what we'll be seeing during live situations all year long."

All three quarterbacks struggled at times inside the red zone. "We have to sharpen up inside the 20," Reynolds said.

At the same time, there is a concern about how naming a starting quarterback will affect team unity. Coaches have talked to the offensive squad about completely supporting the starter. What the coaching staff wants to avoid is a quarterback controversy among the players.

"That can ruin a team. We've seen it in the past," said quarterbacks coach Robbie Bosco. "The players have to do their jobs. It can't matter if they are buddies with one guy or another. We're definitely not going to pick a guy because he's not as well liked as somebody else. We're going to play the best guy."

"I hope (the decision) doesn't split the team and start havoc," Peterson said. "Everyone's got to be in the same boat."

"We're all together in this," Engemann said. "Whoever the quarterback is, we're going to go to war with him."

SCRIMMAGE NOTES: Running back Luke Staley and fullback Kalani Sitake sat out as a precautionary measure. Brian McDonald led all rushers with eight carries for 24 yards, and Will Snowden gained 16 yards on three carries . . . Freshman returned missionary Toby Christensen, son of former BYU All-American fullback Todd Christensen, was the top receiver with six grabs for 72 yards while Hooks caught three passes for 55 yards . . . Placekicker Owen Pochman connected on four of six field goal attempts, drilling a pair of 27-yarders and a couple of 42-yarders. He missed twice from 53 yards . . . The Cougars will resume two-a-days Monday.

E-mail: jeffc@desnews.com