Starting QB set, for now

By Charles Renning
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Heavner wins job for Saturday scrimmage

Head football coach Mike Stoops announced yesterday that freshman Kris Heavner will be the starting quarterback for the remainder of spring practice and the Spring Game this weekend.

"He has shown the most consistency throughout the first couple scrimmages and team settings," Stoops said. "He has shown the most poise and ability to move our football team."

Heavner threw eight touchdowns and 15 interceptions in starting the Wildcats' final eight games last season.

"They named me and say I'll get more reps, but we all will go out there and compete," Heavner said. "If I was first or not, I would work hard all the time."

The coaching staff said it came to the decision because of the work the Johnson City, Texas, native put in during spring practice not because he took the most snaps last year.

"I told them all when they came in that it was a fresh new start," said offensive coordinator Mike Canales. "We felt that Kris had led the team and done some good things to earn that spot."

Stoops said he believed it necessary to go with a guy to try and build some rhythm in the offense, but stressed that all four scholarship quarterbacks have a chance at being the signal-caller come fall.

"We wanted to try and build some continuity with our offense going into the last week of spring," Stoops said. "The job is still very open and we will give all four quarterbacks an opportunity."

Beyond Heavner, Stoops said there is no defined QB order. Along with Heavner, sophomore Nic Costa, redshirt freshman Ryan O'Hara and freshman Richard Kovalcheck are all battling for the No. 1 spot.

"Hopefully, they'll all continue to push Kris," Stoops said. "This battle is nowhere close (to being over)."

Heavner and the rest of the quarterbacks were told of the decision in a group meeting Monday night. Even though Heavner is the starter for now, the other quarterbacks remain optimistic.

"There's a long way to go, and I'm not giving up on any thing," said O'Hara, who started one game and appeared in another behind center last season. "They picked Kris for now, but that doesn't mean any of the other quarterbacks are going to stop competing."

Costa also saw playing time last season and remains confident he will get an opportunity to win the starting job in the fall. He said if he is not named to either the first or second quarterback spot, he will explore playing another offensive position.

"We've talked about it," Costa said. "If spring ends and I'm not in the top two, that's something I'm definitely going to have to look at. They want to get me on the field and want me to get the ball."

The Wildcats have one practice left along with the Spring Game Saturday at 2 p.m. at Arizona Stadium. Admission to the game is free.