Matthews Bracing for Another Offseason of QB Questions

By: Damon Dillman Email
By: Damon Dillman Email

The primary question surrounding the James Madison football season prior to the 2009 season was who would be the team's starting quarterback.

On Tuesday, head coach Mickey Matthews admitted that may be the case again leading into next season.

"We're going to let both guys go again," Matthews said, referring to Drew Dudzik and CAA Offensive Rookie of the Year Justin Thorpe.

"We'll just have to see where we are when we get to throwing the ball in the spring, and I can analyze what the different scenarios are," he said. "Those two guys will compete again."

After battling for the starting job through last spring and summer, Dudzik and Thorpe rotated offensive series for JMU's first four games.

Matthews named Thorpe the starter prior to JMU's October 10 game against Richmond. But by midway through the second quarter, Dudzik was back in the game, and leading the Dukes to a 17-14 halftime lead.

"You'd have to admit that Drew was getting a bit of the upper hand in the Richmond game," Matthews said. "And about the time I think it was obvious he was getting the upper hand, he broke his foot."

The injury ended Dudzik's junior season, and Thorpe spent the rest of the year as JMU's lone quarterback.

"We kept waiting for one of those guys to step up and win the job back in September," Matthews said. "And I wouldn't say we wouldn't go down the same road with both guys."

For the season, Thorpe completed 56.6 percent of his passes for 1,260 yards and six touchdowns, and also threw nine interceptions. Thorpe also led the Dukes with 654 rushing yards and five scores on the ground.

In five games before his injury, Dudzik threw for 472 yards, with six scores and two picks, and a 56 percent completion percentage. Dudzik also ran for 158 yards and one touchdown.

Matthews said he wouldn't change the way he and his staff approached the position entering this past season. And he said they'll take the same approach this offseason.

"You don't know where both eyes are going to be when you start scrimmaging in the spring. One guy may make a big jump, or one guy is better than the other," he said. "We'll just have to make a decision.

"It was a difficult situation. We just need to play better at the position," Matthews added. "No question, we need to play better."


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