Logan Woodside filled in for starter Phillip Ely after Ely suffered a season-ending injury in 2014. He threw for 2,263 yards and 19 touchdowns and led the Rockets to a win in the GoDaddy Bowl. ASSOCIATED PRESS
As the University of Toledo football team opens its fall practice schedule today, much of the offensive depth chart is set.
With an experienced offensive line, a loaded backfield, and explosive playmakers at receiver and tight end, the offense looks poised for big things in 2016.
But once the regular season rolls around, who will be under center orchestrating this talented unit?
First-year coach Jason Candle says there is a three-way competition for the starting quarterback job that will play out during fall camp.
The most experienced candidate is junior Logan Woodside, but challenging the Kentucky native for the starting job are junior Michael Julian, who backed up Phillip Ely last season, and Mitchell Guadagni, a young but talented redshirt freshman who racked up impressive numbers at Hudson High School.
“That will kind of play itself out whenever somebody emerges and stamps their claim to be the quarterback,” Candle said. “I think the two things that they have to be able to do is they have to be able to take care of the football and they have to make great decisions that ultimately lead to touchdowns.”
In 2014, Woodside filled in for starter Phillip Ely after Ely suffered a season-ending injury. He stepped in and threw for 2,263 yards and 19 touchdowns and led the Rockets to a win over Arkansas State in the GoDaddy Bowl.
He had two games with more than 300 yards passing and ranked fourth in the MAC in passing efficiency (142.5) and completion percentage (62.5).
With Ely back in 2015, Woodside took a redshirt season. He said it was one of the toughest times of his career, not being out on the field. He was able to work out with the team, something he thinks should help him coming into this season .
“I just want to get back out there with my guys and I can only control what I can control,” Woodside said. “I have to keep worrying about myself. I thought I did a pretty good job in the spring of leading the offense and just trying to lead some of the younger guys. I just have to keep doing what I have been doing and try not to do too much. I’m going into this year the strongest I’ve ever been and in the best shape I’ve been in.”
While Woodside redshirted last season, Julian served as backup to Ely. He played in four games, completing 5-of-7 passes for 71 yards and threw his only collegiate touchdown against Eastern Michigan .
In 2014, Julian was pressed into action as a redshirt freshman because of injuries at the position. He played in six games altogether, including a game as the starter against Northern Illinois.
Julian, a 6-foot-5, 232 pounder from Hilton Head Island, says each of the three candidates played well in spring practices.
“I think for the most part we all did a pretty good job in the spring,” he said. “There wasn’t really someone that was just outstanding and just that much better than everybody, but I think we all did a real good job.”
Julian expects a tough competition for the starting spot, but says he is up for the challenge.
“I definitely think it will be a hard fought competition and I’m very much looking forward to it,” Julian said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun just competing with those guys.”
Guadagni had an accomplished high school career at Hudson in which he earned AP Division I player of the year honors as a senior after throwing for 2,585 yards and 37 touchdowns.
The 6-foot-2, 200 pound dual threat quarterback also rushed for 1,056 yards and eight touchdowns his senior season.
With his passing and running ability, Guadagni could be the quarterback of the future for Toledo.
“It’s a cool opportunity to be mentioned in the race, but I have two other great quarterbacks in front of me, so we’ll see how it goes this camp,” Guadagni said. “I just want to learn from the older guys, just learn from what they are doing and what they are seeing and just compete.”
After redshirting his freshman season, Guadagni had a chance this spring to learn more of the offense and get more reps in practice.
“Just being a freshman last season I learned a lot of the other team’s plays being on scout team,” Guadagni said. “So this year was kind of a building block of learning the offense and getting a feel for the speed of the game. ”
With all the weapons at the skill positions for Toledo, Candle said the competition could come down to who is the most efficient in leading the offense .
“When the quarterback can move the offense on a consistent basis that’s a really good indicator of who that will be,” Candle said. “All three of those guys I believe have the capabilities to do that, so it’s going to be fun and interesting to watch how it plays out in camp.”
Contact Brian Buckey at: email@example.com or 419-724-6110.