PAYSON — Sun Devil fans in the number of 3,042 came to Camp Tontozona hoping to see if either junior quarterback Manny Wilkins or sophomore quarterback Blake Barnett would outplay the other and light up the scoreboard during the scrimmage. Instead, the fans witnessed a scrimmage dominated by the defense.
Although the defense outshined the offense, fans were able to see how the intense quarterback battle between Wilkins and Barnett has progressed for the first time since the spring game.
N'Keal Harry during route running drills at Camp T. pic.twitter.com/JNPvHuNxJu— Austin Burnett (@austinburnett10) August 6, 2017
Wilkins started the scrimmage with the first team and Barnett played mostly on the second team. Overthrows and near interceptions plagued Wilkins throughout the scrimmaged. Although Wilkins didn’t play his best, he said all his mistakes were easily fixable. Wilkins completed 8 of 20 for 114 yards and one touchdown.
“Obviously we missed some big plays out there on the field and left some touchdowns out there,” Wilkins said. “But those are things that are easily fixed. Just little over throws, footwork things. I’m not really worried about it.”
Barnett worked mostly with the second team during the scrimmage but also played multiple possessions with the first team.
One thing that Barnett needs to work on is getting the ball out quicker. He has a nice, quick release, but if he isn’t able to get the ball out quick enough, then his good release is irrelevant. The offensive line didn’t help him out either allowing Barnett to get sacked six times. Barnett’s unofficial stat line was 8 of 18 for 81 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
“It was challenging at first,” Barnett said “It was the two’s offense against the one’s defense so it was a good challenge. It’s good though, it’s competition. That’s how it’s going to be no matter what. It was tough but I just tried to come out and do everything that I could. It’s tough I’m not going to lie. It took a little while at first to get the ball rolling. Once I got with the one’s I felt a little more comfortable and I settled down a little bit.”
“We came out flat, but as time went on, I felt comfortable and got settled in,” Barnett said. “I had one mental mistake on the interception, but I feel like I came back from that.”
After watching the scrimmage it seemed like Barnett had the edge over Wilkins, but Wilkins also took more first-team reps against the second-team defense, while Barnett took reps mostly against the first-team defense and hardly against second-team defense.
At the end of the day, Wilkins is still the first-team QB and Barnett is still on the second string. If Wilkins isn’t playing well in the first couple weeks of the season, then Barnett will get his chance to prove himself. Regardless of where they are placed on the depth chart, this quarterback battle is still very close and the intensity will get higher as the season goes on.
*All stats are unofficial and courtesy of Sun Devil Athletics*