After making his first career collegiate start against Florida A&M on Sept. 18, freshman quarterback Timmy McClain will once again get the nod against BYU on Saturday, coach Jeff Scott said in a Tuesday press conference.
“[Starting McClain is] the plan as of Tuesday. We still have a couple more days of practice [before the game],” Scott said. “I’m not ready to say that Timmy is the starter moving forward for the season. I think we’re close enough to what we’ve said at the beginning of the year, using these [first] four games [to evaluate the quarterback position.] I think this will be another new challenge for him.
“Last week he just started in his first [collegiate] game. Then this time [he’s] starting on the road in probably the most hostile environment we’ll be in all year I would imagine. So we’ll hold to that and be able to evaluate him and any other quarterbacks that may get an opportunity to play, and hopefully be able to move forward with a firm decision next week.”
Against the Rattlers, McClain played nearly the first three quarters before being pulled in favor of sophomore Katravis Marsh. The decision to take McClain out had nothing to do with his play, however. Scott said he wanted to give Marsh the opportunity to put some live reps on tape before he makes his decision on who will be the team’s full-time starter at his self-imposed Week 5 deadline.
Scott said the plan against Florida A&M was to hopefully get out to a big lead, which happened, and let another quarterback get into the game. The focus against BYU, however, is to simply win.
“I think [it’s] probably different going into the week than FAMU was last week,” Scott said. “We knew if we would play well [against FAMU] in the first half that we’d have an opportunity maybe to get some more guys in. This week you’re going in with a mind frame to win the game, and then you’ll adjust to whatever happens either way.
“So there’s no guarantees on if another quarterback will play or not. Who that would be right now would be determined by the end of the week and how the game goes.”
Between McClain, Marsh and sophomores Jarren Williams and Cade Fortin, who started the first two games of the season, Scott has a number of players to choose from.
Scott also said he’s been impressed with the maturity McClain has shown since arriving at USF, given he was in high school just a year ago.
“He’s got a quiet confidence about him. … I mean, Timmy started for four years in high school and won a state championship his last year,” Scott said. “He’s not just a completely young player that hasn’t had experience, but he’s got a good demeanor. Hopefully as he continues to progress, he’ll be a little bit more vocal.”
Aside from touching on his leadership abilities, Scott said to keep in mind McClain is dealing with a hamstring injury that may be keeping him from hitting his full potential.
“He’s a pretty talented guy, and I think he’s still not 100% healthy either,” Scott said. “He’s got a hamstring [issue] he’s battling through a little bit. So I think whenever he really gets back to being completely healthy, he has another gear running the ball and also being comfortable.
“You saw him out there, just still trying to figure things out. He had some times in the pocket where he needed to slow down the speed a little bit and relax and let the ball go. So that’s just all part of a young guy kind of getting out there for the first time with bullets flying, figuring it out.”