Quarterback competition reemerging for UMass football ahead of Saturday’s game at Charlotte

Randall West and Andrew Brito are in competition for the starting job

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Quarterback competition reemerging for UMass football ahead of Saturday’s game at Charlotte

(Eva Trainer/Daily Collegian)

(Eva Trainer/Daily Collegian)

(Eva Trainer/Daily Collegian)

(Eva Trainer/Daily Collegian)

By Dan McGee, Assistant Sports Editor

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After a blowout loss in their home opener, the Massachusetts football team is looking to get back on track against Charlotte this week. After losing back-to-back games by over 25 points, coach Walt Bell is stressing that the Minutemen (0-2) need to use their practice time wisely.

“[Coach Bell]’s echoed to the entire team that we have to prepare better,” quarterback Randall West said. “We need to utilize each day and focus on preparing for the opponent and maximizing the time we have on the practice field. We need those looks, we need that time, we need those details, in order to be successful on Saturdays.”

While West’s words indicate that Bell thinks the entire team needs to work harder to succeed, West himself may need to shift into second gear to hold onto the starting quarterback job. Bell left the door wide open as to who would start at quarterback against the 49ers (1-1).

“We’re going to let the [quarterbacks] go compete,” Bell said. “Whoever has the best week will go play. I’m hoping someone plays well and wins the job.”

Once West’s job at the start of the season, unconvincing play and a costly red zone interception saw him benched in favor of Andrew Brito in the second half against Southern Illinois. In his limited game action, Brito completed six of 10 passes for 73 yards, a touchdown and an interception.

Though the quarterback controversy may seem like a possible distraction ahead of Saturday’s game, West and Brito are embracing the competition.

“I think that everyone in the quarterback room pushes each other,” said West. “Competition brings the best out of everybody…If somebody makes a good throw in practice I’m going to try and match that. If someone makes a good read in practice then we’re all going to try to match each other. The higher that goes up, the more people we have doing that, the more successful this team is going to be.”

“Competition is the greatest thing you can have in football,” Brito said. “That’s why I think those big schools like Alabama are so great because they just have four and five-star [recruits] as their third-strings. Those guys are pushing them every day to take their spot and that’s really what we need to start doing here. Every guy, even if you’re a fourth string, you need to be pushing that guy ahead of you so you can take his spot.”

The humility from West and Brito about the situation is to be expected. After all, West hadn’t started a game at quarterback until this year. Brito was an undersized junior college quarterback prior to being recruited by Walt Bell this season. The duo is seemingly grateful just for the opportunity to start.

“It’s not always going to be easy,” said West. “It’s not always going to be given to you. You have to work hard to reap the benefits that you work so hard to get.”

No matter who ends up at quarterback on Saturday, the Minutemen will need to establish an improved offensive game plan if they want to find success against Charlotte. Although UMass opened the game with the lead twice this season, the offense has dwindled in the second half in both games, totaling only seven points in the second half.

“I really want to see this team succeed,” added Brito. “I really want to see this program and school turn around, especially this football program. Coach Bell does so much for us, and I just want to prove him right and all the fans right. It’s just about being better every single day.”

Dan McGee can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @DMcGeeUMass.