The Florida A&M University football team’s three-way race for the starting quarterback position has been open thus far through spring practices.
Senior quarterback Eddie Battle has been fueled by the competition for the starting spot at his position.
He said redshirt sophomore quarterback Martin Ukpai and freshman quarterback Austin Trainer have motivated him to play at a higher level because they are always prepared, and in turn, it drives him to perform better.
“The guys around me compete and Martin (Ukpai) and Austin (Trainer) do a great job of pushing me because they don’t slack off,” Battle said. “They come everyday ready to play.”
Battle completed four passes for 88 yards in the Orange and Green game at Bragg Memorial Stadium. He said head coach Joe Taylor challenged him at halftime to be a better leader on the field by having a stronger presence in the huddle.
“The offense feeds off the quarterback,” Battle said. “If the quarterback comes in the huddle drowsy and lagging, then that’s how your offense is going to play. They’re going to play slow and very lax, so I think my second half was really more energetic.”
Taylor said he was pleased with the play of the three guys battling for the position, but he wants them to work on the little things.
The Rattlers committed seven fumbles throughout the scrimmage and several of them were caused by poor exchanges between the quarterbacks and the center.
“I saw some good things form all three (quarterbacks),” Taylor said, “but we just can’t make those blunders where we’re just not getting snaps. Outside of that, some good balls were thrown and we moved the ball.”
None of the quarterbacks threw a touchdown on Saturday and the three combined to throw four interceptions.
Ukpai wants to work some kinks out in his game. He said he made some good plays, but at times, he felt out of sync on the field.
“I felt like I could have performed a lot better,” Ukpai said, “but my main thing was just trying to move the ball and I moved it pretty well at times. At other times, I missed a couple of snaps here and there, that really messed up my rhythm, so I felt like I could have done a lot better. But overall, I didn’t think I did too bad, but it’s still room for improvement.”
Ukpai completed nine passes for 93 yards and he completed the most passes for the most yards out of the quarterbacks vying for the starting position. He also threw an interception.
Taylor wants to have a starting quarterback named by the time spring practices are over and he said he feels comfortable knowing the Rattlers will have capable reserves at the position.
“We got six practices left, and we’re going to take those six practices and try to settle down on who may be the quarterback,” Taylor said. “But whoever the guy is, it’s good to know that we have two that can still play.”