Déjà Vu for Dukes' QBs at Start of Spring Ball

By: Damon Dillman Email
By: Damon Dillman Email

Drew Dudzik showed up for the first day of spring practice at James Madison on Wednesday wearing a practice jersey with the No. 1. A few minutes later, Justin Thorpe arrived wearing No. 2.

But head coach Mickey Matthews says the practice attire of the two players once again competing for the team's starting quarterback job was simply coincidence.

"I hadn't looked," Matthews said when the jerseys were brought to his attention. "No, it has nothing to do with nothing."

This is the second straight season that Dudzik, a rising senior, and Thorpe, who's entering his redshirt sophomore season, start the spring competing for the quarterback job.

The two players opened the 2009 season rotating at the position until, according to Matthews, the coaches decided at halftime of last October's loss to Richmond that Dudzik was their guy.

Dudzik broke his foot on JMU's first offensive series of the second half of that game, ending his season.

Thorpe took the remainder of the team's snaps at quarterback, and after back-to-back losses he guided the Dukes to four straight wins to end the season, and earned CAA Offensive Rookie of the Year honors.

On Wednesday, Matthews reiterated a statement from this past offseason that Dudzik is "probably a little ahead" entering the spring.

"But Justin really played well at the end of the season, and we won the last four games," he said. "So we're going to let both guys compete for the job."

"I'm ready," Thorpe said prior to Wednesday's practice. "Me and Drew have been working hard in the off-season, and we just can't wait to show what we got."

"I feel physically like I'm in better shape and stronger than last year," said Dudzik. "The foot's all good to go. I've been doing all of my lower body workouts and everything. So I'm just ready to go."

"I think they're more mature. They got a lot of bumps on their noggin from last year, so certainly they've matured," said Matthews. "We're much more experienced at the quarterback position, as we are at a lot of our spots."

Both players also downplayed their coach's assertion that it was Dudzik's job to lose.

"I've just got to go out there and do my best. That's all I can do," said Dudzik.

"Whatever we do is up to the coaches," said Thorpe. "My response would be just to come out and play as hard as I can, and we see where we go from there."

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