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Rather than one starter, ASU talking about using two-QB system

ASU quarterback Keenan Grissett, above, missed Wednesday's practice with back spasms as he continues to battle with David Kooi for the starting job.

ASU quarterback Keenan Grissett, above, missed Wednesday's practice with back spasms as he continues to battle with David Kooi for the starting job.

ALBANY — Keenan Grissett has the legs.

David Kooi has the arm.

And Albany State offensive coordinator Uyl Joyner thinks he might have the answer to the Rams’ quarterback conundrum.

“I wouldn’t be opposed to (Grissett and Kooi both playing),” Joyner said Wednesday when asked about the hotly contested quarterback race. “If that’s the answer, we are going to roll with it. It’s going to be a two-headed monster.”

Joyner said the coaching staff isn’t set on a two-QB system for the Sept. 1 opener at home against North Greenville, but it’s definitely on the table if neither quarterback wins the job in the next week and a half.

And the longer the battle goes on, the more a two-QB system looks like a possibility.

“A week out (from the opener), and that’s what we are looking at,” Joyner said. “It would have to be, because nobody has stepped out, which isn’t bad. Both guys have their strengths, and we can do different things with them.”

Grissett and Kooi are both Division I transfers coming off seasons at their previous schools during which they lost battles for the starting quarterback position. Grissett (Gardner-Webb) and Kooi (Florida Atlantic) have split reps under center for the Rams since Kooi transferred to Albany earlier this month, and head coach Mike White said both of them are capable quarterbacks.

“If we go with two quarterbacks it wouldn’t bother me,” White said after Tuesday’s practice. “I just want production, but it’s a different animal when you have two.”

Both bring different sets of skills to the position, which was held down the last two seasons by star QB Stanley Jennings, who graduated with a 19-5 record as a starter and was named the conference’s MVP as a junior.

Grissett was a dual-threat QB at Cross Creek High School in Augusta, where he passed for 1,543 yards and 15 touchdowns and rushed for 710 yards and 15 touchdowns his senior season. At Gardner-Webb, he was on the wrong end of a pair of quarterback battles and was forced to play safety his redshirted freshman year and wide receiver as a sophomore.

Kooi was one of the heaviest recruited quarterbacks out of Florida when he graduated from Pensacola Catholic High School, where he threw for 2,500 yards and 21 touchdowns his senior season. At 6-foot-6, he is comfortable in the pocket and has plenty of firepower in his arm but came up just short of a starting position each year at FAU, where he was listed No. 2 on the depth chart at some point during each season.

“I kind of wish you could get a blender and mix both of them together and make one good quarterback,” Joyner said.

Grissett wasn’t at practice early Wednesday because of back spasms, but Kooi said after practice that he wouldn’t be opposed to a two-QB system.

“I think they want to see what we can do in a game situation,” Kooi said. “We both bring good attributes to the table, so whatever they go with I think will work. We are both pretty good leaders on the field, and the team respects us. I think if we both play or just one of us plays, it will be a good outcome regardless.”

The ASU coaches had planned on using Saturday’s intrasquad scrimmage as a key tool to evaluate the duo, but neither Kooi nor Grissett, who each took 24 snaps in the controlled scrimmage, stood out in the game. Grissett broke free for a few big runs and was 6-for-10 throwing the ball, while Kooi was 8-for-15 and connected on several long passes, including a 51-yard bomb to star receiver Ronnie Tubbs.

“One will make a play, and the other will make a play. One will make a high throw, and the other will make a high throw,” White said. “Kooi can show his strength in the pocket and make some really good decisions, and Grissett made some really good runs and decisions on the option.”

White and Joyner both said earlier in the preseason that they had hoped to see the QB battle settled with plenty of time to prepare for the opener, but Joyner said on Wednesday that it hasn’t surprised him that it is taking this long to name a starter.

“I knew both guys would be competitors, and they weren’t going to give up,” Joyner said. “And you want that. You want two competitors. Because if one is a competitor and the other is not, then that’s already your winner right there.”

It wouldn’t be the first time the Rams have used a two-QB system in the 12 seasons White has been head coach. In 2008, Kisan Flakes and Jackson State transfer A.J. McKenna traded snaps, and in 2006, Flakes and former Monroe star Terrance Ransom shared time in the pocket.

Neither of those seasons was overly successful for the Rams, who finished 7-4 each year and lost a pair of first-round playoff games.

Joyner, however, thinks this year’s duo can produce better results.

“Most of the time, time will tell,” Joyner said. “And right now time is telling us that we have two competitive guys that are going to go head to head for the next week. We have a lot of positives between the two guys.”