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August 6, 2013

Walton on QB battle and handling his last year

Every August, ColonialsCorner chats with head coach Joe Walton at two points during training camp. The last chat is an overview of the team after the last scrimmage, an idea of who will play certain roles and his expectations after watching the team for a month.

The first, though, is always shorter and gives an inside look at what's on the forefront of the veteran coach's mind. This year, it's an easy discovery: It's his last year and he has a quarterback to choose. Here's what Walton had to say about choosing the next Robert Morris quarterback and how he'll handle his last season.

You said in the spring that you wanted to see how all of the quarterbacks, not just Paul Jones and Derik Abbott, would handle the start of training camp before making a decision. What kind of timetable then are you looking at to make a decision?

Probably after the first eight to ten days. I think it's a decision that has to be made earlier than later because they have to get settled in with the offense and I think it does a lot for the team that we've settled on who's going to be their leader. I'll give it the rest of this week, probably.

Throughout your career, what have you ultimately learned that is most valuable to you in your offense? What does a quarterback have to display to be your guy?

Number one, he's got to be a tough guy. The quarterback position, contrary to what a lot of people think - it is a glamor position - but it's also a hard position to play. You've got a lot to do. When you stand back there and see those defensive guys coming at you, it's a great lesson. He's got to be a tough guy. And then, I think the players have to trust him. You can get a sense as you go along as to who they know is going to get the ball to them when they should and who is going to do things the right way. These guys have to believe in you. That's going to be a big key for us this year, and I think we have some veterans now, which we haven't had for a couple years.

This might be the best freshman class that I've seen in a long time, and I'm sure that some of those guys are going to push people. It should be a great camp and I think the quarterback position is one we have to solve. We have to get the right guy in there and let him take over.

A quarterback battle is always the headliner, but there's competition elsewhere, too. What are some of the positions you have your eye on as camp gets underway?

I think the wide receiver position is going to have a lot of competition there. We have a couple of young kids who can run pretty well and they all seem to catch the ball pretty well. How that plays out will be very interesting. We have a couple of playmakers there that not a lot of teams are able to say they have. And I think at the linebacker position, we have a couple of guys that are going to get pushed a little bit to play their best. It's going to be a good battle. Those are the two that seem like they're going to be interesting to watch.

Are you the type that you're going to try to savor different things out of this last season or will you reflect on everything at the end?

I'm treating this like it's any other year. I've been doing this for 62 years. My first training camp was when I was a sophomore in high school and that was 1950. I only missed one training camp in all of those years, and that was the year I sat out after I left the Steelers. Then I took this job. That's 62 years, and it's a long time of doing something. There will be some adjustments, I'm sure. I'm used to doing it. It's all I've been doing my life, and it's going to be a little difficult I think.

ColonialsCorner publisher Andrew Chiappazzi can be reached at achiappazzi@yahoo.com.

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