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Published: Friday, 4/1/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Dantin, Owens making Beckman's choice tough

BY ZACH SILKA
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Austin Dantin, left, led Toledo last season until he was hurt. Austin Dantin, left, led Toledo last season until he was hurt.
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After eight of 15 spring practices, University of Toledo football coach Tim Beckman is no closer to naming a starting quarterback than he was at the start of offseason workouts two weeks ago.

Junior Austin Dantin and sophomore Terrance Owens are locked in a dead heat, according to Beckman, and are still splitting repetitions 50-50 with the first-team offense.

"It's been a great competition, it really has," Beckman said Thursday. "There's nothing to be named yet by any means, because one day T.O. is on and throwing the ball better and then Austin comes on the next day.

"They're very, very competitive, and they're doing a very good job."

Beckman hands out offensive, defensive, and special teams MVP accolades after each practice and pointed out that Dantin and Owens have each earned offensive MVP once.

Both players said Thursday that they've been given no indications by the coaching staff about when a final decision will be made, but it is believed the QB battle will extend at least into fall camp in August.

Dantin beat out Owens in fall camp last year and started nine games for the Rockets before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury at Eastern Michigan.

Owens took over from there, leading UT to a 2-2 record as a starter and taking every snap behind center in a 34-32 loss to Florida International in the Little Caesars Pizza Bowl on Dec. 26.

"I think things have stayed pretty even since the start of spring football," Dantin said. "I started off a little slow, just getting back into it and putting the pads back on really for the first time in a while, but I feel great right now, especially in the last few practices."

Terrance Owens was 2-2 at quarterback after Austin Dantin was injured. Terrance Owens was 2-2 at quarterback after Austin Dantin was injured.
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"We're just battling it out," Owens said. "We're splitting time [between the first and second-team offenses] pretty equally, and we're both working hard and getting better."

Unless either Dantin or Owens separates himself over the next several months, there exists the possibility that both could see time in the pocket next fall.

"I'm a believer we can play with two quarterbacks," Beckman said. "Each can do great things for us, and each has won football games at UT, so it's a great situation to be in."

GUEST COACHES: As a way to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the Rockets' final undefeated season in their 35-0 run, Beckman named UT coaching legends Frank Lauterbur and Jack Murphy as guest coaches for the spring game April 15 at 7 p.m. at the Glass Bowl.

Joining Lauterbur as coach of the Blue team will be former Rockets Barry Church and Rick Isaiah. Helping Murphy guide the gold team will be ex-UT standouts Marcus Goodwin and Stephen Williams.

"I wanted to honor two great coaches from Rocket football history, especially with this year being the 40-year anniversary of our 35-0 team," Beckman said. "We're also bringing back two prominent alumni with Rick and Marcus, both important parts of the Toledo community, as well as Barry and Steve, who are now playing in the NFL. It will be great to have all of them back in the Glass Bowl."

Lauterbur coached UT to its first Mid-American Conference title in school history in 1967, followed by league championships in 1969 and 1970 and the start of the undefeated run.

After serving as Lauterbur's defensive coordinator from 1963-69, Murphy took over the program in 1971 and led the Rockets to another MAC title and a 12-0 record. His undefeated record in his first season was the first time a head coach had ever accomplished that feat and was not equaled until Auburn's Terry Bowden did it 1993.

Goodwin and Isaiah were both two-time first-team All-MAC wide receivers in 1991 and 1992. After graduation, Goodwin helped form ASSETS Toledo, a nonprofit organization in downtown Toledo assisting self-employed individuals and small business initiatives.

Isaiah serves as a regional director of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and is chaplain for the UT football team.

Church and Williams recently completed their rookie seasons in the NFL -- Church with the Dallas Cowboys and Williams with the Arizona Cardinals. Church was a four-time first-team All-MAC honoree at safety, while Williams earned first-team All-MAC honors as a wide receiver following his senior season.

Contact Zach Silka at: zsilka@theblade.com or 419-724-6084.



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