It is somewhat appalling that Hurricane fans are so quick to label Brock Berlin as the starting quarterback this coming season.
To everyone that has penciled Berlin in as our savior, I ask you this important two-part question: what about Derrick Crudup and what exactly has Berlin done to earn the spot?
At last Saturday’s CanesFest Spring Game neither quarterback had bad performances by any means. However, Berlin did not separate himself from Crudup at all, and in fact, probably didn’t perform as well.
Berlin was 8-16, 129 yards with one touchdown Saturday. Crudup threw for a more efficient 7-8 for 100 yards and a touchdown coming on an opening drive that featured the junior completing all four of his passes. It appears to me that Crudup had the better showing, not Berlin.
I am not looking to bash Berlin here; I simply want there to be a level playing field for both candidates. Berlin did not have a bad Spring Game. The Florida transfer looked very strong in the game’s final drive. But that doesn’t take away from what Crudup accomplished at the Orange Bowl.
As far as personality goes, both have displayed tremendous patience with the media. The two have answered every tough question, and their candor has made them very difficult to dislike.
What irks me about the controversy is that when Berlin transferred to UM, he immediately was surrounded by undeserving hype. What has Berlin done that Crudup hasn’t in his career?
Look at both players’ roles in their first two years. Berlin was Rex Grossman’s backup at Florida. He hardly saw the field, gaining his only notoriety in the first half of the Orange Bowl against an overmatched Maryland team despite throwing two interceptions before Grossman took over.
Crudup was an understudy to a great quarterback in Ken Dorsey, seeing action almost exclusively in mop-up duty. He did make an appearance in the Fiesta Bowl, however, completing a crucial eight-yard pass to Quadtrine Hill in the second overtime .
Berlin has played in 12 career games, completing 53-87 passes for 653 yards, 11 touchdowns and two picks (don’t forget that he played for Steve Spurrier, known to run up the score late in the game). Crudup has completed 25-48 passes for 326 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions in his two years playing for a coach who actually has class, unlike the one who used to roam the sidelines in Gainesville.
Both quarterbacks are 6’1″ and are separated by eight pounds. Both quarterbacks went to high school in Florida.
The Hurricanes are in good hands with either quarterback. Both Crudup and Berlin will give the ‘Canes a great chance to win if the rest of the offense is intact.
My problem with the quarterback controversy, though, is that Crudup has been labeled as the underdog when he should be the favorite, given that he has played here for two years learning how to win from his predecessor.
Most fans assume that Berlin is better than Crudup without ever seeing him play. There is a stigma attached to Berlin because people are always intrigued by the unknown. They feel they have seen all that Crudup can offer in his limited duty over the past two years.
What the fans don’t know is how hard Crudup has worked in the off-season to improve his arm, accuracy, range and mobility. Not many people expected Crudup to perform at such a high level this spring.
He has turned heads within the program and that is why head coach Larry Coker is likely going to delay his decision until at least the summer.
I am not demanding that Crudup start over Berlin. Either quarterback will help the team win. The only thing that I demand is for the Hurricane fans to not be so hasty in naming Berlin the starter, and for the coaching staff to give Crudup a fair chance this spring.
Eric Kalis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.