The Big Quarterback Question
With an absence in the pocket after losing veteran quarterbacks Quinn Epperly and Connor Michelson to graduation, the Tigers are left to decide between senior Kedric Bostic, junior Chad Kanoff and sophomore John Lovett who will lead the fast, hurry-up offense in the upcoming fall season.
Offensive Coordinator and Quarterback Coach James Perry looks to fill the position that can keep the fast and physical brand the Tigers are known for.
“We develop schematics based on the abilities of our players,” Perry said. “Most important thing for our current quarterbacks to do is demonstrate they can operate our offense fast. Being fast is the most pivotal part of what our offense is, and we can only go as fast as our quarterback will direct.”
Yet, the Tigers remain undecided as to how they will approach fitting the quarterbacks into their fast offense.
“We are learning their strengths this spring,” Perry said. “Having three talented guys compete is an ideal situation for them all to get the most out of their ability. The most important advantage is we can put our best players on field as opposed to leaving backup quarterback on sideline”.
It is unknown whether Princeton will see another 2- or 3-quarterback play style or if the team will stick with one player.
“We used to have 2 to 3 quarterbacks the last few years because they demonstrated they were some of our best players,” Perry said. “We will evaluate this crew and if they show they deserve it, we will continue to do that.”
The race is a tight one.
Bostic’s strength lies in his ability as a runner, quick to the edge with the ability to make cuts, but it is unknown whether he throws the ball well enough to capture the starting position.
Kanoff, however, amazes in his passing game as a more pro-style pocket passer. He was a recruiting coup, decommitted from Vanderbilt, who throws an extremely accurate ball. Although he is more lacking in the run game than the other two, not really the option to make cutbacks or beat defenders to the edge, but once up to speed, Kanoff has long strides that can cover ground.
Lovett dazzled in his Junior Varsity games last season, emerging as a passing and throwing hybrid. Yet, he is younger than the other two competitors, and quarterback is the hardest position to learn.
The competition remains open, though. Epperly and Michelson represented hard workers, and the quarterbacks who fill the position have to bring the same qualities to practice, said Perry. It’s about the improvement. Epperly started with far superior running skills to passing skills, while Michelson was the opposite. Epperly improved astonishingly at the pass game, and Michelson became better at the run.
Whoever winds up with the majority of the snaps, Perry will find a way to put all three athletes on the field.
Part of a team with an influx of young quarterbacks and receivers, Bostic’s previous three years of experience with Epperly and Michelson give him an edge in the competition. Since his collegiate debut against Dartmouth in 2012, Bostic has seen significant play time as a member of 2- and 3-quarterback plays. Over his Princeton career, he rushed 21 times for a total of 125 yards, earning two touchdowns, completed 11 of 18 passing attempts for 101 yards, and received 16 passes for 81 yards.
“Quinn and Connor provided a leadership to all of us in that basically they’d been in the system for four years working in the game and everything, so all three of us have to step up and lead the team,” Bostic said. “I’ve seen how everything has gone for four years. We need to make sure that we’re still playing fast and physical. We can’t drop off at all.”
Bostic looks to improve his accuracy, positioning and decision-making during spring practice.
“We’re focused on getting better every day,” Bostic said. “We’re not focused on just Japan [Princeton football is currently there playing in the Legacy Bowl], but every day in practice trying to get better. That’s how we get where we want to be next year, which is winning another Ivy League Championship. Every day we go out, we just focus on that day and that practice. We just focus on something we want to improve.”
Kanoff, however, is entering his third season having seen time on-field as well.
“It’s a new team this year, and we have a good start to spring football,” Kanoff said. “We just have to know the offense at this point. We’re just aiming to get better and striving toward the championship.”
Kanoff’s goal in spring practice is efficiency.
“I’ve been working on weight and strength,” Kanoff said. “Football wise, I’m trying to make sure I’m efficient. It’s a goal for the team and individually.”
Yet, sophomore Lovett could be a dark horse in the competition for starting position. Seniority gives Kanoff and Bostic an edge in experience, but Lovett could prove ready. Recruited from DeMatha Catholic, Lovett led his high school in passing yards and passing touchdowns and successfully to a state championship.
“I’m looking to going out with this team for another football season and doing whatever the coaches ask me to do,” Lovett said. “As a unit, we aim to get better each day.”