It's audition time at McDaniel College.
No, Simon Cowell or Howard Stern won't be making appearances on the Hill any time soon. The only judge that matters is Green Terror football coach Mike Hoyt.
His squad is winless through three weeks, with Ursinus coming to town today at 1 p.m., looking to snap a losing streak and pick up that first Centennial Conference victory.
McDaniel has rotated through quarterbacks and running backs, dealt with season-ending injuries to starters, and tried to overcome mental lapses on the field in crucial situations.
In Hoyt's eyes, it's audition time.
Time for some competition for starting positions. Time for some of the veterans to show leadership. Time for some rookies to showcase their skills.
Hoyt used specials teams from last week's loss against Muhlenberg as an example. He pointed to freshman Danny Trainor, whose lone tackle came on a punt return.
"He's flying around making plays," Hoyt said. "I'm seeing freshmen flying around with a little sense of urgency, a little bit of fire in them that I'm not seeing from some of the older guys."
Hoyt said his message in practice earlier this week was simple - some people's jobs are up for grabs, and whoever wants them can have at it. That competition is what stokes Hoyt's fire.
"I think it's awesome," he said. "Competition is what brings out the best."
McDaniel is trying to avoid its first 0-4 start since 2007 by beating Ursinus (1-2) at Kenneth R. Gill Stadium today. The Bears are coming off a pair of blowout conference losses, and they're allowing 36 points per game.
Opponents are rushing for 259.7 yards per game against Ursinus, and in last year's meeting McDaniel's Joe Rollins ran for 97 yards.
Look for Rollins (86 yards last week vs. Muhlenberg) to get things going, but the Green Terror will be without their top receiver for the remainder of the season.
Hoyt said junior Nick O'Melia, a Francis Scott Key graduate, is set to have surgery on his right knee after suffering an injury in Week 2 against Moravian. O'Melia, who went for 107 yards and a touchdown last year against Ursinus, had seven receptions for 155 yards and three touchdowns this season.
Hoyt said the void at wideout could be filled by freshman Aqil Tweedy, a 5-foot-8, 165-pounder out of Stafford, Va., that had impressed the coach in practice.
"We'll see if he matures here real quickly," Hoyt said.
Ursinus' offense runs through senior quarterback Chris Curran, who leads the team in passing and rushing. Curran has 783 passing yards and seven touchdowns to go with 131 rushing yards and a score.
Curran ran for two touchdowns last year in the Bears' 35-28 win over McDaniel, a win that came with 19.4 seconds to play when Curran scored from 1 yard out.
It was a frustrating loss back then, just like the first three this season have been for Hoyt and his players.
"It might be more frustration on my part than on their part," Hoyt said. "At the same time, I've got to keep in perspective: this is not a sprint, it's a marathon. It's going to take time."