Redshirt senior Connor Frazier and redshirt freshman Ellis Knudson have separated themselves in the race to open Towson's season opener at East Carolina as the starting quarterback. Coach Rob Ambrose acknowledged the gap between the players.
"The good news is the play out of the two frontrunners has increased immensely to the point where it's not the coaches that are happy, it's the players," Ambrose said. "So I'm confident that whoever we start in the first game is going to put up a better showing than what we put on the field last year. But as to who that guy is, we're not there yet."
Junior Heath Dahlgren and freshman Ryan Bowles are the other candidates for the quarterback job.
The separation would seem to be a positive sign for Frazier, who averaged just 124.9 passing yards and threw just nine touchdown passes in 2014, his first season as the full-time starter. Another good indicator for Frazier is that he said he has not lined up at wide receiver during camp.
"It gives me a little bit of comfort, but me and Ellis are good friends on the field and off the field, and we compete every day, and we trust that the coaches will make the best decisions for the team," Frazier said. "Like I said before, he and I would want to help the team in any way that we can."
At 6-foot-2 and 240 pounds, Knudson is two inches taller and 40 pounds heavier than Frazier, but doesn't have the game experience that his teammate has.
"He's older, four years older than I am, so he's got more experience," Knudson, 19, said. "I believe whoever is back there will be a good, solid fit."
Other notes from Towson's media day Thursday:
**After two weeks of practice, the team appears to improving at the rate Ambrose had anticipated. He credited a stronger sense of cohesion among the players eager to rebound from last year's 4-8 overall record and 2-6 mark in the Colonial Athletic Association for the progress. But Ambrose said the Tigers have much work to do before he can declare them ready for the season opener at a Pirates opponent that went 8-5 and lost to Florida in the Birmingham Bowl last year.
"I heard one coach say today that his team is game-ready," he said. "That would scare the hell out of me if I thought our team was game-ready today. We still have way too much time between now and then. We need to build toward that. I can say with certainty that we're better off – way better off – than we were a year ago, but we're not ready to play a game yet. We're not."
**Picking up where Terrance West left off, Darius Victor led the CAA in rushing yards with 1,305 and tied for second in the league in rushing touchdowns with 12 last season. The 5-8, 210-pound junior's power and toughness were significant factors in his success, and Ambrose said Victor's prowess was even more remarkable when considering he ran behind a youthful, patchwork offensive line than the veteran front that opened running lanes for West before he left early to get drafted by the Cleveland Browns.
"He listened," Ambrose said of Victor. "He knew the stress of what was coming, and he knew what happens to guys that get too big for their britches. He's an intelligent kid, and as long as you guys don't make him look like the Second Coming, then I won't have to worry about a junior slump. He's a good football player who realizes he can keep getting better. To be honest, what are the stats if you don't win? He's not a selfish person, and in the end, it's going to be about winning, and he's going to do whatever he can to help the team."
**Towson's bid to bring in former University of Miami quarterback Kevin Olsen did not work out after the program dismissed him in March. But former University of Maryland junior Jacquille Veii has apparently found a comfort zone with the team. Veii, who can play running back or wide receiver, ranked fourth on the Terps in receiving yards with 230 yards and fifth in catches with 16 and has impressed Ambrose with his speed.