Senior David Wolke and sophomore KJ Black split time at quarterback all throughout the 2007 season. In the spring however, Western Kentucky coach David Elson said there would be only one starter in 2008.
All through the fall camp, there was no cut and dry starter at quarterback. Until now.
After being named the starter for the season opener at Indiana Aug. 30, Black led the first-team offense in the Toppers' mock game tonight. Black alternated every other series with either Wolke or junior Brandon Smith.
"That was one of the reasons we wanted to make the decision and do that tonight, so our offense could get some as semblance of rhythm, at least get it started," Elson said. "It seemed like it worked. All three quarterbacks seemed to come in and the weight was lifted off the shoulders. That decision was made and I thought they all played well. That's good for our offense. Our guys have to know who the leader is and who we're going with and they do."
Black had been nursing an injured hamstring through most of the fall camp but didn't seem to be bothered by that tonight.
"Honestly, it's been bothering me even though I was out here practicing," Black said. "Today was the first day I really didn't feel it all day. I guess it's a hundred percent. I'm not gonna say it is, but I hope it is."
Black completed 17 of 20 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns. He threw one interception, a tipped pass that was caught by junior linebacker Taurean Smith.
Following a 29-yard touchdown pass from Black to junior wide receiver Ronnie Letcher, Black's second touchdown pass, sophomore wide receiver Quinterrance Cooper took the kickoff, ran right, cut left, hurdled a tackler and after a couple of jukes, ran 90 yards for a touchdown.
Offensively, Cooper will be one of Black's top targets this season.
"It makes it easier (having one QB) from a standpoint that we get our timing down," Cooper said. "With KJ, he's doing very well right now and with one quarterback, we can get our timing down. We don't have to worry about, we've gotta adjust the route or we've gotta adjust the way we play when two quarterbacks are in the game."
The bad thing about an intra-squad game is that when one side looks that good, the other side usually is the opposite.
In the mini-scrimmage on Saturday, the offense was held to just one touchdown. Tonight it scored six and a field goal. Junior kicker Zac Minturn also missed one attempt from 26 yards.
"We need to work on the hurry up tempo and we got a good look at that today," senior defensive lineman Dan Cline said. "It was nice to see how fast we can get down and get set. I think we responded well some of the time. Some parts we need to work on."
For now, the battle has been won at quarterback. With one victory down, Black now has his sights set on another one Aug. 30.
"I just feel like my shoulders are a lot lighter," he said. "I'm ready to go. I feel like I can concentrate now on just the opponent and making every throw."