OGDEN — The question remains, the answer awaited. With Saturday’s practice over and Weber State’s season opener five days away, the role of starting quarterback remains undecided.
As the Wildcats’ quarterback battle is waged for a day or two more, one coach behind the scenes has been here before.
Kelly Bills — a lifelong quarterback who dabbled at running back at his alma mater, BYU — coaches WSU quarterbacks this year after two years as receivers coach.
Bills was a quarterback at Southern Utah before transferring to BYU after a mission to play in 2006-07. He was also an offensive quality control assistant and a graduate assistant over quarterbacks for the Cougars before being offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Willamette University.
His last year as a player was 2007 when Max Hall beat out a pair of QBs who later transferred to other FBS schools. As a graduate assistant in Provo, he was involved in quarterback battles between Riley Nelson and Jake Heaps, and then Nelson and Taysom Hill.
“If you’re in the profession long enough, you’ll go through a situation that gives you that experience,” Bills said.
So with Jake Constantine, Kaden Jenks and Rathen Ricedorff entering fall camp with the position wide open, Bills brought some lessons with him.
“When I was a graduate assistant, I thought you could kind of orchestrate it and make things fit the way you want it. But that’s not the case,” he said. “The key thing is to let it play out how it’s going to. Fall camp is long and the guy who wins the job, it’s usually going to be clear.
“Sometimes it’s not as clear cut, but if you have a good criteria and let things play out ... everything will come together ... You can tell which guys lead the team and carry the team. We’re fortunate to have several guys at quarterback that the team has bought into and we can win with.”
Constantine, a sophomore transfer by way of Boise State and Ventura College, said he’s expanded his knowledge of the game, specifically blocking protections, under Bills’ tutelage.
“He’s a great coach. He meets with us extra time, whenever we want, so we’ll go in there even if there’s not a scheduled meeting, he’s there for us to get better,” Constantine said. “He makes sure we’re dialed in and everything’s running smoothly.”
Jenks, a redshirt freshman from Washington, said he’s grown in passing progression and recognition of defensive coverages.
“Coach Bills is a great guy, he knows his stuff and is here for a reason. He’s helped us push through the learning curve that comes with the new offense we’ve been putting in,” Jenks said. “I’ve loved it so far and I’m happy to have him.”
Bills said Constantine was brought in for his experience and game savvy, while Jenks has grown “leaps and bounds” over the last year and that both have picked up the offense well.
That new offense, brought about by the departure of offensive coordinator Fesi Sitake and hire of Dave Schramm, is sure to play a role in the decision, as are Schramm and head coach Jay Hill.
“Coach Hill and Coach Schramm have been around, they’ve seen these things play out before,” Bills said. “They’ve given me autonomy to give input and to coach those guys how I see fit, and they’re going to take my input and suggestions and we’ll collaborate and make the decision for what’s best for the team.”
Through it all, the coaches and teammates say they’ve stuck together despite the competition.
“That’s a big part of the culture we preach here at Weber,” Jenks said. “We’re still teammates at the end of the day, we’re going to do what’s best for the team. We all understand that, but we’re still competing. That really helps drive each of us to be the best we can be.”