By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (August 29, 2016) — Tarleton State head coach Todd Whitten says the starting quarterback in the season opener at McNeese State (La.) will be a game-time decision.
Returning starter Zed Woerner has been competing primarily against UTEP transfer Garrett Simpson for the starting job, and other returning quarterbacks Alex Craig and Derek Kiser have also been in the running in preseason camp.
The Texans visit McNeese, the reigning champ of the Division I-FCS Southland Conference, at 6 p.m. Saturday in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
“We have not named a starter for the game, and we won’t until game time. We will watch them this week and practice then announce a decision right before the game on Saturday,” said Whitten Monday morning. “The competition has been good and I think all of them have improved.”
Woerner, a junior from Marble Falls, and Simpson, a senior from The Colony, have alternated running the first-team offense for much of preseason camp. Woerner led a Tarleton offense that averaged better than 38 points and 485 yards per game last season, completing 62.5 percent of his passes for 2,165 and 20 touchdowns in nine games. Simpson, meanwhile, has not attempted a pass the last two seasons at Division I-FBS UTEP, where he was 3-3 passing as a redshirt freshman in 2013.
Craig played in seven games at Tarleton last season, completing 62.3 percent of his passes for 355 yards and four scores. Kiser saw action in two games, completing 65.7 percent for 230 yards and 3 TDs.
McNeese State also had a quarterback battle in preseason camp, but last week named James Tabary its starter against the Texans.
Saturday will mark the first game back at Tarleton for Whitten, himself a former Division I-FCS quarterback at Stephen F. Austin. Whitten, the winningest coach in Tarleton history, directed the Texans in 1996 and again from 2000-04.