WKU’s quarterback battle in full force in Petrino’s new offense

WKU held its second football practice of the spring today, and the focus was on the Hilltoppers’ wide-open quarterback battle after the graduation of senior starter Kawaun Jakes.

We talked today with quarterbacks James Mauro, Brandon Doughty and DaMarcus Smith, as well as offensive coordinator Jeff Brohm. Here are their comments:

JEFF BROHM, offensive coordinator

How have the first two days been? “I think our guys are eager to get on the field. They have a good attitude. They’re willing to work hard, and it’s all about getting better every day. As long as our guys understand the importance of pushing ourselves to get better every single day, then that’ll happen.”

Throwing a lot at players: “This offense we have, we want to have answers to problems. We want to have solutions. Right now, we are throwing a lot of things at them. We want them to continue to absorb the offense and play fast, so they’ve got to study things off the field and learn from watching practice on film. It’s a work in progress, but they are working hard and have a good attitude.”

How have your quarterbacks been? “All three of them are working hard. They’re putting in the time. There’s plenty of things to work on, without question, but I think they’re all willing to absorb things. It’s about getting better every day. We have to get better not only learning the offense, but throwing the football – our mechanics, our fundamentals and our technique.”

Competition between the QBs: “We want competition. We’ve got three guys that are competing for the spot. We’re trying to give them all equal reps so they can prove what they can do. We’ll have some scrimmages coming up, and really, it’s about performing in game-like scrimmages. That’s going to be the main thing.”

DAMARCUS SMITH

How does it feel to be back out there? “It’s been very exciting. It’s a humbling experience, just knowing what all I’ve had to go through just to get this second opportunity. I’m just blessed and thankful to be able to be there with these guys.”

Was it hard at times to not be out there? “I can’t lie, there was times I was very impatient. But I give so much respect to coach Taggart and the past coaching staff and my teammates, because everybody supported me and made me feel at home. They really made me feel like I made the right decision when I transferred here.”

Are people feeling some nerves or rushing out there? “As competitors and athletes, we don’t want to admit it, but you’re definitely going to have some nervous jitters the first couple of days. Everybody wants to be right.”

Relationship with other QBs: “It’s pretty fun. The relationship we’ve built with each other is pretty unique. We’re pretty much forced to have a good relationship with each other because we’re together every day. A quarterback, especially in Petrino’s offense, has to spend so much time watching film and having meetings to go over this offense. I’ve been able to learn from those guys.”

Playing in Petrino’s offense: “I’ve kept up with coach Petrino. He coached at Louisville, and that’s where I’m from, so I grew up as a kid being able to watch his offense. I knew all of his quarterbacks, and being able to play for him in college is a dream come true.”

BRANDON DOUGHTY

How’s the start been? “We’ve been pressing a little bit as a team, but we’re going to make strides. These first couple days, people are a little nervous and overthinking things, but we’re going to get better.”

Petrino’s offense: “I kind of realized myself that you’ve got to do extra stuff in this offense and work hard with your craft and your technique.”

On Petrino: “He’s very particular about things and wants things ran a certain way, and you respect him for that. He wins everywhere he goes.”

JAMES MAURO

Starting practice: “It’s been good. It’s been a lot of learning. It’s been a little sloppy here or there, but that comes with a new offense and the first few days. We’re getting better and seeing improvement just from these first few days, so we’re looking forward to these next few weeks.”

Getting lots of early reps: “You can never get too many reps, but it’s not just the quarterbacks. It’s new for everybody. We can’t just say it’s hard for us when everybody’s dealing with the same thing.”

On Petrino: “I love to win, and I know that’s what he does. He finds ways to win. The offense he was bringing and the mentality kind of fit what I want to do, so I was very excited along with the rest of the team.”

More on Petrino: “He knows his stuff, man. They’re both really smart guys, so I’m just trying to learn from both of them every day.”

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