Perception is reality, but perception also can be changed.
Such is the case in the quarterback derby that the University of Akron football coaching staff has had to monitor since spring practice began.
Dalton Williams, a transfer from Stephen F. Austin who ran this version of Terry Bowden’s offense in a backup role, probably had the upper hand to start.
But his teammates — last year’s starter Clayton Moore and redshirt freshman Kyle Pohl — have been closing the gap.
Each has something to offer the Zips’ offense, but in different ways.
“Clayton has picked up the offense well. He’s a very good competitor. He’s very competitive. He’s got that Brett Favre mentality. They’re both from Mississippi,” Bowden said. “He’s a fighter. He has a lot of emotion that he brings to the position and a lot of natural talent.”
And Pohl? He’s got a gun masquerading as an arm.
“Kyle Pohl, we didn’t even know anything about him coming into this spring. I wouldn’t mark any of them out of being starting quarterback,” Bowden said. “Kyle Pohl has the strongest arm and the smoothest release of all of them.”
Even Moore spoke enviously of his teammate’s skills.
“I always joke with him ‘let me have your arm.’ There’s not a throw on the field that he can’t make,” Moore said.
And to their credit, both quarterbacks have picked up the offense, which Bowden said isn’t especially difficult, at an equal pace. It probably helps that it’s an offense that both quarterbacks enjoy playing.
“It’s very QB oriented which means we have a lot of freedom,” Moore said. “It’s fun because each pre-snap is like a game of chess.”
Moore likes the fact that he goes immediately to the line, reads the defense and has a short menu of plays from which to choose.
“After the ball is snapped, just throw an accurate ball and you got a completion,” he said.
“I like the pro-style, but I just think this new offense is going to give us a better chance to be successful,” he said.
Bowden is careful to point out that each quarterback has deficiencies. For Moore it’s that gunslinger mentality and some of his mechanics, Bowden said.
“He has to be disciplined enough to correct that stuff,” he said. “That’s going to be what he has to do to make himself better, is to become more disciplined in his mechanics.”
For Pohl the situation is a bit simpler.
“He just needs reps,” Bowden said. “The more reps he gets with the first and second team, the better he gets. He has a very calm demeanor which I like in the pocket and he’s got the strongest arm.”
What is obvious to anyone who’s seen all of the quarterbacks working out during the course of spring practice is that they are pushing one another and the play is getting more consistent. Surprisingly, ego isn’t playing a significant role in what is happening on the field.
“We’ve all got things we do best. We all have strengths,” said Pohl, who is from Farmersville. “I think pushing each other in this competition is going to help bring out the best in each other and our weaknesses too and I think that’s real good. It can help us to learn something we’re not as good at.”
As far as who goes into summer training camp as the favorite to take the reins of the Zips’ new offense, that will depend on something very basic, Bowden said.
“Everyone had the mental ability to help the offense,” he said. “What it is now is who has the ability to execute it with the fewest mistakes and without being undisciplined.”
George M. Thomas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Zips blog at http://www.ohio.com/zips. Follow him on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/GeorgeThomasABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.