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Published: Thursday, 3/15/2012

QB battle continues in spring for UT

BY RYAN AUTULLO
BLADE SPORTS WRITER
University of Toledo quarterbacks Terrance Owens, left, and Austin Dantin, seen here in an August, 2011, practice, are again in a battle for the lead. University of Toledo quarterbacks Terrance Owens, left, and Austin Dantin, seen here in an August, 2011, practice, are again in a battle for the lead.
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Terrance Owens and Austin Dantin have danced this dance before and by now they've got the steps down to a science.

The fourth-year quarterbacks are once again deadlocked in a starting battle with spring practices underway at University of Toledo. That much hasn't changed. Their order on the depth chart has.

Owens, who performed brilliantly down the stretch in 2011 when Dantin was injured, took the bulk of first-team snaps Wednesday in the brief window the media was granted access. With roughly six months separating Wednesday, the first of 15 spring practices, and the season opener at Arizona, the redshirt junior Owens might be the favorite to win the job. To be fair, coach Matt Campbell said senior Dantin worked with the first team as well.

"With those two kids, preparation wise and competition wise, it makes our football team better," Campbell said.

For now it appears to be a two-horse race, although Campbell gushed over Dwight Macon, suggesting he'll find a role for the sophomore somewhere in the offense if not at quarterback.

Dantin, with 22 starts under his belt, said his perennial battles with Owens bothered him at first "but now it's expected."

Dantin emerged from fall camp last year as the starter and split snaps with Owens on a weekly basis until Dantin suffered a concussion with three games to go. Owens was 3-0 in his stead, posting nine touchdown passes against zero interceptions, and guiding the Rockets to a win in the Military Bowl.

"I just want to see myself continue to grow as a leader and have the team on my back," Owens said.

Dantin said his approach to this competition will be the same as it has been the past two years. He will use the spring "working on everything I've been working on for the three-and-a-half years I've been here." Specifically, he'd like to improve his arm strength and his ability to read defenses while growing more as a leader.

"It's how I set myself forward for every spring and every fall going into this battle," he said. "As long as I keep doing that everything will fall into place."

MACON STRIDES: In the same breath he used to address the starting battle, Campbell praised third-string quarterback Dwight Macon.

"The kid I thought had a great day today was Dwight Macon," he said. "I think he showed up and had a great practice."

Among Macon's highlights was his connection with receiver Jimmy Davidson on a deep route that torched UT's reserve secondary.

Macon completed each of his two pass attempts in 2011. He ran for a touchdown and was on the receiving end of another.

"Anytime you have guys that are competing at a high level and we feel are ready to participate, we're going to find a place for those guys on our football field."

INJURY REPORT: Reserve safety Ethan Kagy is being limited in practice because of an undisclosed injury, and center Kyle Cameron and tight end Jared Straight are listed on the team's injury report. Beyond their absences, Campbell practiced his entire team Wednesday.

"We've got a couple of nicks but nothing huge," Campbell said.

ON THE MOVE: Cordale Scott is transitioning from receiver to tight end where he sits atop the depth chart. At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, he's a sensible choice to fill the vacancies left by outgoing seniors Jerome James and Danny Noble.

"He's a guy that we'll see how he progresses throughout the spring, but we're excited about him," Campbell said.

Scott, who began his career at Illinois, caught five passes in 2011.

Other notable players on the move are Robert Lisowski (right guard to left guard), Ben Pike (defensive end to defensive tackle), and Byron Best (star linebacker to cornerback). Best is atop the depth chart opposite cornerback Keith Suggs.

Contact Ryan Autullo at: rautullo@theblade.com, 419-724-6160 or on Twitter @RyanAutullo.



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