Everyone knows who Trevor Lawrence is and what he brings to the table as the Tigers starting quarterback. He has lost just one game over his first two seasons and is likely going to be the number one pick in next year’s NFL Draft.
However, heading into a season with so many unknowns, who the Tigers have behind Lawrence on the depth chart could be as important as ever. You never know from one week to the next who could be unavailable on a moment’s notice.
The battle for the backup job behind Lawrence was one of the biggest storylines heading into fall camp. No matter who wins it, both Taisun Phommachanh and DJ Uiagalelei will need to be ready to play.
Since Uiagalelei arrived on campus it has been widely assumed that the superstar freshman would eventually win that spot. Although, now that he has a year in the system, Phommachanh has been holding his own throughout fall camp.
“(Taisun) is doing a great job,” offensive coordinator Tony Elliott said last week. “We’re throwing a lot at him and really gone heavy with the install because we had some time this offseason to get ahead. We’ve really been straining these guys just with the schedule being a little bit different and the camp structure not quite being as it was in the past.”
“He looks a lot more comfortable in the pocket and he’s not having issues with the motions like he has in the past,” Elliott said. “Taisun looks a lot calmer there and the biggest thing for him to progress, which is expected and understandable at this point. But just with the pass protection and being able to see the multiple fronts, make multiple adjustments, get the back in the right spot, and know that when he changes his protection.”
Uiagalelei comes in as a freshman with a much better foundation. The offense he ran in high school gives him a much better understanding of what the Tigers are trying to do.
“D.J. is also doing well and you can see there is a little bit more of a foundation there,” Elliott said. “When you look at him and Trevor and the systems they came out of in high school, and when you compare it to Taisun, a lot of that stuff is new.
“It’s still an adjustment period for (Uiagalelei) as well. They are both battling and moving along but I’d compare D.J. to Trevor in that aspect. I’d say it is because he has that foundation, so he’s starting to handle that pretty well. They are competing and are neck and neck battling. Today was a good day and I’m excited to see the tape.”
Whichever player winds up winning the job isn’t nearly as important as ensuring both are as ready to play as possible. The deeper you get into this particular season, the more likely it is you are going to need more than one quarterback.