August 6, 2008

Weeden, Cate fight for No. 2 spot

Another fall, another quarterback situation at Oklahoma State.

But at least the good news is that this year's QB controversy is about who will be the No. 2 signal caller for the Cowboys. Since it's an election year, the Vice Quarterback, if you will.

Of course, Orange Country remembers all about the quarterback situation last year. You know, that whole deal with Bobby Reid, Zac Robinson, some chicken strips and the 2007 YouTube celebrity of the year, Mike Gundy. Eventually, that argument was settled with Robinson taking over as starter and Reid transferring to Texas Southern.

But all that is ancient history now. Coming into 2008, Robinson is the clear starter and one of the main leaders of the Cowboys. But with the Zac attack solidly in the starting role and Reid transferring, the battle for the backup position is the new QB question.

And at the moment, it appears to be a wide-open contest. So, who will be the No. 2 guy this fall? Brandon Weeden or Alex Cate?

Right now there's no clear answer. Gundy admitted there wouldn't be a decision on this question for another nine or 10 days. Until that point, the young sophomore from Utah will square off against the old freshman and former major league baseball player from Edmond.

The upcoming practices (especially the two weekend scrimmages?) will help decide which player will take the second spot on the depth chart. These next few days will expose the strengths and weaknesses of each quarterback. Right now, conventional wisdom has Cate as the smarter and quicker QB since he's entering year three in the program. But then there's Weeden, a bigger body with a rocket arm who is trying to play catch-up after a run in baseball and a redshirt season last year.

While it's not the starting job, being "the guy behind the guy" is important, as the current "guy" found out last season. With potentially a lot on the line, does this mean there's a heated competition going on between the two?

"Me and Cate, we're good friends," Weeden said. "There's no hard feelings between us."

But that doesn't change the situation at hand.

"My goal is to win that backup job," Weeden said. "It's what I've prepared for all summer. I've spent time and have learned the offense better than I have in the past and my goal is to win that backup job. And I'm sure he'd say the same thing."

"We really don't talk about it too much between me and him," said Cate of the battle for second. "But you just go out and practice and do the best you can. The competition makes you practice hard and makes you better."

And while it's still early in the fall practice schedule, both quarterbacks appear to be progressing well.

"They're both better, there's no question," Gundy said. "They both had good summers. They obviously put their time in because they're able to absorb more information and make plays out there when the pressure is on. We've been in full-speed drills and they're reacting better this year than they were last year, which they should."

In this year's football media guide, Weeden is listed at 6-4, 220 pounds. Cate, meanwhile is listed at 6-1, 195. While size isn't the biggest factor in this decision, it might be a factor. After all, neither has seen tangible action on the playing field in college (Cate played against Florida Atlantic last year but didn't attempt a pass) so any and everything will be a factor in this decision.

But the real important question is: what does each have to say about each other?

Cate: "He's a big, physical dude and has a great arm."

Weeden: "He's a smart kid. He knows the offense real well, he's got a good arm and he makes good decisions. When things break down, he doesn't panic. He's a good player."

And oh, for good measure, what does the "guy," Robinson think about the two?

"Both guys are definitely very capable of moving the ball with this offense," he said. "Alex Cate, Brandon - both of them - have good arms and can make plays outside of the pocket. They're just going to continue to get better with the reps that they get. I have 100 percent confidence in either one of those guys."

While that answer might sound a bit politically-correct, it's dead on. With the kind of offense OSU has combined with Robinson being a running QB, a capable No. 2 must be ready to step in at a moment's notice. As recent history proves, second can become first in an instant.

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