Gerry Gdowski breaks down the latest on Vanderbilt's training camp quarterback competition
The SEC training camp quarterback competition that’s been flying under the radar the most is the battle that’s currently waging in Nashville between senior graduate transfer Riley Neal and junior Deuce Wallace.
Whichever quarterback emerges from the competition will have some of the league’s finest playmakers surrounding him in running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn, tight end Jared Pinkney and receiver Kalija Lipscomb. That’s the good news. The bad news? There won’t be any time to ease into the starting role as Vanderbilt hosts Georgia in the season opener come Aug. 31.
During his Wednesday media availability, Vanderbilt offensive coordinator Gerry Gdowski was asked to share the latest update on the Nashville camp battle and offer insight into how much the new starter will dictate the offense he plans to run this season.
“I think you are always trying to fit what you do best with your personnel and what they do best,” Gdowski said. “We are multiple enough that we are able to do enough things that whatever a guy does well, especially at the quarterback position, we are going to navigate that direction.”
Derek Mason has made it known that both quarterbacks are off-limits to the media while the competition is ongoing, he doesn’t want to add any additional responsibilities to their plates as they battle it out in camp. While Mason has not allowed his quarterbacks to speak, that hasn’t stopped the media from asking the program’s offensive coordinator how the competition is playing out early in camp.
“It’s a daily thing. I think, obviously, when you look at Duece and Riley – Riley has more game experience, Duece has more experience in our offense. So it’s an interesting dynamic that way,” Gdowski continued. “I think Riley is definitely, between the spring and summer, gotten more comfortable with what we are doing and Duece is healthy and looks good. It’s going to be a fun couple of weeks to figure it out.”
Considering all the talent Vanderbilt’s starter will have around him, it would make sense that the coaching staff simply asks the team’s QBs to be distributors, instead of the focal point of the system. While that may make sense on paper, Vanderbilt’s offensive coordinator suggested the added traits each quarterback brings to the competition may be the difference in earning the job exiting camp.
“I think obviously, when I look at the quarterback position, ball security is the No. 1 thing. You have got to possess the ball,” Gdowski offered up. “You have to be able to execute the offense… but the guys that kinda separate themselves are the ones that can make plays on their own a little bit, too. Whether it’s something with their feet, something with their mind, as far as making a check or doing something at the line of scrimmage and that’s somewhere where the great and good kinda separate themselves in that regard.”