TULSA — With four days until Saturday’s season opener against Central Arkansas, the University of Tulsa has a starting quarterback.
Sophomore Luke Skipper has won the job, TU coach Philip Montgomery announced at his weekly press conference.
“I think he’s really matured,” Montgomery said. “I think he’s handling situations a lot better. He’s been much more consistent throughout fall camp, and he’s done a good job. You go back and look at the situations and what he’s done, his drives and the opportunities that he’s had, he’s made the most of ‘em. He’s been really, really coachable, and I think he understands what we’re trying to do offensively more now than obviously he did a year ago.
“His growth physically and mentally has really prepared him for this. He’s been in the battles now. He’s seen some of it. He knows what to expect. And again, I think just his growth throughout the process in this has been really good, and he’s been the most consistent. He’s gonna get the start. He’s earned it.”
The Golden Hurricane, coming off a miserable 2-10 season, opens 2018 at 6 p.m. against the Bears at Chapman Stadium.
Skipper, from Forney, Texas, started five games last season after opening 2017 as Chad President’s backup. Skipper beat out President, from Temple, Texas, and Collinsville redshirt freshman Seth Boomer this year, and the competition went down to the wire, Montgomery said.
“The decision was kind of a combination of things,” Montgomery said. “The competition was extremely tight, and it was a tough decision. It ultimately came down to production, and what I mean by production, when we had different scenarios, whether it was in a scrimmage or in practice when the 1s are going against each other and you’ve got more of a live situational-type deal, how we handled those situations, who was the most productive during those situations, that’s really what it came down to.
“Because as a quarterback, my job is to get the ball out of my hands and get it in somebody else’s hands, whether I’m handing it off or throwing it, and those guys being productive when there, making those right reads and right decisions and seeing how we execute when we move down the field when you’re involving tempo and everything else.
“At that stage, the last three or four days here, it’s felt like that decision was forthcoming. Felt pretty good about what we were going to do. I just wanted to sleep on it a little bit—the little bit of sleep that you get at this time of year—and make sure we’re making the right decision and not having a knee-jerk reaction-type deal.”
Neither Skipper or President was very effective last year as Montgomery was trying to replace three-year starter Dane Evans, who left as the program’s all-time passing leader.
President played in 12 games before a knee injury in the season finale. He made seven starts and completed 52.9 percent of his passes for 921 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Skipper played in seven games, starting five, and his 55.9 percent of his throws for 1,141 yards with three TDs and four INTs.
Skipper played in a season-opening loss at Oklahoma State, then didn’t play again until Week 6. He started the next five games, then missed the season finale with an injury.
Boomer redshirted last season.
Montgomery said it’s possible all three quarterbacks could play this season.
“There may be situational things in there where we might use a guy. But Luke will be our starter come Saturday.
“We’ll just see. I mean Chad’s versatile. Chad can do a lot of different things. Chad wants to do what’s best for the football team. Probably one of the best leaders we’ve got on this team. A guy that’s very unselfish, a guy that, all he wants to do is win. He’s very competitive. So whatever we ask Chad to do, I promise you, he’s gonna do that to his best abilities and try to help our football team win because that’s our No. 1 goal at the end of the day.”
Columnist John E. Hoover is co-host of “The Franchise Drive” every weeknight from 6-8 on The Franchise in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, and appears throughout the day on other shows on The Franchise. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Hoover also covers the Big 12 for Sporting News and Lindy’s magazine and is a feature writer for Sooner Spectator magazine. Visit his personal page at johnehoover.com.