On Monday morning I had the chance to head north to Camp Rantoul for the first public practice, and I spent quite a bit of practice watching the quarterbacks because it’s been billed as the biggest battle in all of what’s set to take place in Rantoul.
After watching one practice, which isn’t always a fair measure because guys can have a down day, it seems like this competition is nothing more than a formality.
Barring an injury, Wes Lunt is going to be the starting quarterback, and from my perspective it’s not even close. Because of the hype surrounding Aaron Bailey‘s recruitment and the rushing ability Bailey showed a year ago, most Illini fans would probably expect that he would be the chief competition to wrestle away the starting spot from Lunt. Based on what I witnessed, I don’t think that could be any further from the truth.
Yes, Aaron Bailey has a big arm. Yes, Aaron Bailey can run if the situation calls for it, but therein lies the problem. By having the ability to run the ball if trouble arises, Bailey has a tendency to hold on to the ball way too long in the pocket and that pretty much turns him in to a one dimensional quarterback.
I’m not saying he can’t develop into a solid dual threat QB at some point during his Illini tenure, but it seems pretty clear right now that he is a long way from being an effective passer. So, with that in mind, that leaves Reilly O’Toole as the last option that has game experience on the roster.
Does O’Toole have a shot at winning the job?
After seeing what O’Toole brought to the table in previous outings, and then seeing how he performed first hand on Monday I just don’t see it. He is a solid backup option should Lunt lose time due to injury, and he does have that game experience which is crucial. While he looked better at certain points Monday than he has in the past, he still has some major work to do to unseat Lunt.
To the coaches credit, they are giving all three an equal shot at seizing control of the job, but at this point there appears to be clear cut separation between each signal caller.
The bottom line is that I don’t think I’m going out on a huge limb when I say that my personal feeling is that the job is going to be Lunt’s job to lose when it’s all said and done. He has the entire array of tools to succeed in Bill Cubit’s offense, and once he gets fully comfortable in game situations I expect to see him post some major numbers.
Do you have any questions for Ryan? Feel free to leave them in the comments sections below or hit him up on his twitter feed @RPKraemer.