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Tuesday, August 9, 2011
ACC's top quarterback battles

By Heather Dinich

There are three programs in the ACC facing uncertainty at the quarterback position, and this month the competition will determine who the starter is at Virginia, Miami and Georgia Tech. Of the three, Georgia Tech quarterback Tevin Washington has the most job security and currently sits atop the depth chart.

None of them, though, should feel comfortable.

Here’s a look at the top three quarterback battles in the ACC:

1. VIRGINIA

The candidates:
The skinny: None of them emerged as a true leader this past spring. Coach Mike London said the first few weeks of summer practice will be spent watching their fundamentals, their drops, their throws and reactions to the defense. London said he would like to determine who’s No. 1 and No. 2 by game week.

The quote: “We’ll be able to tell early on where these guys are and how far they’ve moved ahead, stayed the same or taken a step backwards,” London said. “… They touch the ball 100 percent of the time. You want to make sure there’s enough evaluation to assess where they are. I would say about midway through practices as we’re still going good-on-good we’ll make some type of determination on that.”

2. MIAMI

The candidates:
The skinny: Last year’s disappointing season can be attributed in large part to the unraveling of the quarterback position. Harris had been plagued by poor decision-making all season, and then took a major step back when he was injured. Morris played admirably considering the circumstances, but as expected made some rookie mistakes. The competition between them began in the preparation leading up to the bowl game last year and will continue until one of them separates himself. Will first-year coach Al Golden go with Harris, the veteran, or Morris, who has shown promise despite having to learn two offensive systems in as many seasons?

The quote: Golden said he wouldn’t completely rule out the idea of a two-quarterback system, but “it’s something I haven’t been comfortable with.” Golden said Harris’ experience isn’t necessarily an edge over Morris. “Either one could very easily lead our team right now.”

3. GEORGIA TECH

The candidates:
The skinny: Washington has earned his place atop the depth chart entering the fall. It’s his job to lose, it’s that simple, but coach Paul Johnson has made it very clear that there will be competition this summer. Washington is 1-3 as a starter, but the Jackets’ offensive woes weren’t entirely his fault last year. The season changed with Nesbitt’s injury. Washington was the most consistent performer this past spring, but he really struggled during the spring game and was outperformed by Days.

The quote: “We’re going to play the guy who gives us the best chance to win. Sometimes winning the game is not losing it, being able to manage and do those kinds of things.” -- Johnson.