It’s a simple question, and it gets asked every week.
No, it’s not which defensive ends are going to be starting for the UW-Whitewater football team or which running back will get the lion’s share of the carries.
The question goes as follows: Where does the quarterback competition stand?
The answer from UW-Whitewater head coach Kevin Bullis usually includes more of a philosophical look into the evaluation of quarterbacks than the schematics or than the quantity of snaps either will play. That was no different when asked Wednesday during his weekly call before the Warhawks take on UW-Eau Claire in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opener at 2 p.m. Saturday at Perkins Stadium.
Zach Oles and Max Meylor split the first week, Oles handled quarterback duties the second week and Meylor relieved Oles after Oles was injured in the first series in the third game.
To the outside eye, Oles secured the job in the second week. To the outside eye, now the Warhawks have a conundrum on their hands.
But Bullis maintained that the job always was going to remain a group project for the junior quarterbacks and offensive coordinator Peter Jennings.
Through the three-game nonconference schedule, Oles passed his test at Concordia-Moorhead in Week 2, and Meylor passed his test at St. Xavier in Week 3.
“Going into it, we felt really good about who they were as people, but you never know until your number is called,” Bullis said. “They both passed with an A in my mind, if I could put a grade on it for how they took on the competition.”
There are two cliches in play. The first is that the quarterback position is just like any other position and that competition is good for the players just like it is good for any other group.
The second cliche is, “If you have two quarterbacks, you have none.” Meaning if one quarterback hasn’t separated himself, then a team has two quarterbacks who are unfit for the position.
Jennings said he appreciates the first cliche but denies the second cliche as he’s comfortable with the talents both quarterbacks have displayed.
“Going into the season, obviously there’s one quarterback in a game,” Oles said. “I think it was good for both of us that each week it’s a competition for that game. I think it brings out the best in both of us and our capabilities.”
Against St. Xavier, Meylor came off the bench and the success he had displayed the fact that the competition manages to prepare both quarterbacks to lead successful offenses.
“Coach Jennings does a really good job of rotating snaps, so usually Zach takes four, I take four and we go back and forth,” Meylor said. “The plays we’re running are the same that we’re running in the game. I was totally ready for it.”
Both quarterbacks perfectly fit the style of offense Jennings prefers to run. So when Meylor came in as a transfer for the spring semester from Lindenwood, a Division II school in Missouri, it was a natural fit for Meylor to learn from Oles—who transferred in the previous spring from Butler.
“We both helped each other. When he first came in, I was just trying to help him grasp the offense,” said Oles about the first stages of the competition.
As for the fall, not much has changed.
“Throughout the fall, competition has just made us better,” Oles said. “It was friendly competition. We were both fighting for one spot and we knew that, but there was no hate or hoping that someone does bad.
“Overall, we just want to make the team better.”
As for which quarterback will start this week, Oles’ health would seem to play a role. He injured his shoulder but indicated on Wednesday that he was “full go and progressing nicely.”
So the competition continues and the Warhawks will continue to try to push the $10,000 question into irrelevance.