Elon University football head coach Rich Skrosky didn’t announce his starting quarterback ahead of the Sept. 3 game against Wake Forest University but waited until right before kickoff to announce that true freshman Daniel Thompson was going to start for Elon over redshirt freshman Connor Christiansen.
“We felt, in the preparation, that Daniel had a little better control of it all,” Skrosky said when asked about why Thompson started. “I don’t know if either one physically stood out way above the other. I think [the control] was, at the end of the day, the measuring stick.”
But after the game, Skrosky wasn’t sure where the situation stood.
“I don’t know if we learned a whole lot [about the quarterbacks],” Skrosky said. “That’s the reality of it.”
Thompson started the game, playing all three drives for Elon in the first quarter. The first drive went three-and-out, then Elon got a first down on the initial play of the next two drives, but stalled there.
Christiansen came in for the first two drives of the second quarter, both of which also ended in a three-and-out.
Thompson came back in and repeated his previous two drives: first down on the first play, then three-and-out. Christiansen got the last drive of the half and went three-and-out.
At this point, Skrosky decided to give Christiansen a chance to have multiple drives to start the second half. He admitted this was not by design, but since Thompson was given this opportunity in the first half, Skrosky deemed it fair to give it to Christiansen in the second half.
The first drive of the second half was the best result for Elon, as Christiansen took the team from the Wake 47-yard line to the 28-yard line, which led to junior John Gallagher’s 45-yard field goal.
Christiansen played the next three drives of the second half, with results similar to the first half: three drives, two first downs, three punts.
Thompson got the final drive of the game, and completed a downfield pass to freshman wide receiver Tereak McCray. It would have been a 19-yard gain, the longest play of the night for the Phoenix, if not for a holding penalty. The three-and-out afterwards was predictable.
In the end, Christiansen had seven drives at quarterback, and Thompson had five. Christiansen was 9 of 15 for 56 yards and added 22 rushing yards on four carries, while Thompson was 6 of 13 for 44 yards, with two carries for 5 yards.
Thompson did not give his performance the benefit of the doubt as he critiqued his first taste of college football.
“Personally, I think I played very poorly,” Thompson said. “I think, as an offense, we shot ourselves in the foot a lot. We’d get a 10-yard gain, then a 15-yard penalty.
“I do not think they were that much of a better team than the score showed. We knew everything they were going to do defensively. From an offensive standpoint, we didn’t execute well at all.”
Skrosky was complimentary toward his quarterbacks for the adjustments they made coming into the second half.
“I will say that I was pleased with what Connor did,” Skrosky said. “Coming into that fourth series, he had good composure about him. He had a calmness about him. I think he did okay.
“When Daniel was on the sideline [in the second half] and he went back in, Daniel went about it the same way. Unfortunately, we hit a 20-, 25-yard pass and we get a holding penalty.”
Skrosky has not named the starter for Saturday’s game against Gardner Webb University (6 p.m. in Boiling Springs), and he isn’t completely sure he wants to name a permanent starter.
“I’ve said this throughout the summer, I am not going to rush to make that decision,” Skrosky said. “If one separates from the other, we will make a decision. But until that happens, we will manage it as best as we can.”