Jahlani Gilbert-Knorren throws a pass during the second quarter as the U of S Huskies take on the Windsor Lancers on August 26, 2011.
Jahlani Gilbert-Knorren and Trent Peterson will be biting their nails until the Huskies kick off their season at home Sept. 2.
The two quarterbacks have been fighting for the starting job all summer and head coach Brian Towriss is still “not ready to say” who will start during the regular season.
Last year as a rookie, Peterson saw playing time in all eight of the Huskies’ regular season games. It was assumed he was being groomed for this year’s starting job. However, Gilbert-Knorren’s great play in training camp has challenged Peterson’s position as expected starter.
“I don’t feel that people gave me a lot of chances going in here. I was reading some stuff that said Trent was going to start and I think that motivated me to work harder,” said Gilbert-Knorren.
Gilbert-Knorren outplayed Peterson in the Dogs’ only preseason game on Aug. 26 against the University of Windsor Lancers. While they both threw for one touchdown and one interception, Gilbert-Knorren completed eight of 13 pass attempts for 152 yards and rushed for 96 yards, whereas Peterson only completed four of 12 pass attempts for 60 yards and had zero rushing yards.
That still didn’t push Towriss to make any conclusions immediately following the game.
“We’ve got to look at the film and see [who we want to start],” said Towriss. “Both guys did some good things and both guys did some things that I didn’t really like.”
Peterson also felt it wasn’t his best performance.
“I did some things right but it obviously wasn’t the game I wanted. I don’t think it reflects the type of player that I am and hopefully I can bounce back,” he said.
“Peterson still makes the best decisions,” said Towriss, but “Gilbert-Knorren certainly created some things with his feet.”
Gilbert-Knorren, also only in his second year, is a highly athletic, versatile and talented player who has the makeup to be a fan favourite — last year, he played as running back, quarterback, receiver and punt returner in the same game. However, he is criticized for his weak decisions in the pocket and for his tendency to scramble too much.
“There were times when he took off and ran when he could have gotten the ball out of his hands,” said Towriss. “He’s had a lot of success by pulling the ball down and running, but I don’t know if he can do it for eight games.”
“I definitely need to work on my pocket passing if I want to be that complete quarterback,” said Gilbert-Knorren. “Sometimes when I see pressure, I get a little bit scared. I’ve got to get that out of my head and trust my offensive line. It will come with time.”
The question is whether or not Towriss is ready to give Gilbert-Knorren that time. With the Huskies’ strong receivers this year, Peterson’s composure in the pocket might be more important than Gilbert-Knorren’s athleticism.
“There’s probably a spot for both of them and they’ll both be playing a lot of football for us,” concluded Towriss.
Whether that means the two will split playing time or that the Dogs will find an alternative use for Gilbert-Knorren and make Peterson the starter is not clear yet. Fans will just have to wait and see.
Huskies open their season at 7 p.m. on Sept. 2 in Griffiths Stadium against the Alberta Golden Bears.
image: Liam Richards/Liam Richards Photography