There’s no question about it, the effectiveness of any football team starts and ends with the quarterback. Ergo it wouldn’t exactly be a stretch to say that programs often find that some of their most difficult years are the ones in which they are making a change at that position. We may see that exact narrative play out this fall in New Orleans as the Green Wave is currently staring down the barrel of a QB switchup.
Yes, standout grad-transfer Justin McMillan is out the door in Tulane and that means that the number one task the Wave faces this summer is finding his replacement. The team currently has five quarterbacks listed on their roster and, while it seems pretty cut and dried that senior Keon Howard will be the one to take the reins, the idea of a competition for the job isn’t entirely out the window.
Let’s speak on Howard first though. Head coach Willie Fritz lauded the Southern Miss transfer’s work ethic earlier this spring saying, “[Howard] understands what’s going on. He’s a gym rat. He’s up in the office everyday. I come up there on Saturdays and Sundays. He finds a way in the office somehow, and I have to shoo him out of there sometimes... But he’s a real student of the game.”
Howard, who served as McMillan’s backup in 2019 after transferring to the program following the 2017 campaign, hasn’t seen much on-field time with the Wave. The little time he has seen, though, he’s made the most of. Last fall he appeared in four games for the Greenies and threw for 208 yards and two touchdowns. Howard did not throw an interception in his limited action last season.
As a sophomore with the Golden Eagles back in 2017, Howard had his most impactful season to date. He saw the field in seven games and racked up 1,199 yards along with eight touchdowns. As a freshman the year prior he threw for 365 yards and a touchdown.
The kid has experience on a college football field and just because most of it came before he was with Tulane does not mean that it won’t benefit him moving into 2020. After all, it’s experience that Tulane is lacking with the departure of McMillan and, seeing as the other three QBs on the roster are underclassmen, Howard may be the answer to this looming question.
Let’s not discount the younger guys however. True freshman and former Deerfield Beach standout Michael Pratt, stood out during spring ball as well. Impressing along with him was another incoming freshman, Justin Ibieta. Whether or not these two did enough to warrant an actual competition with Howard has yet to be determined but remember his name as we move deeper into summer.
The final two guys on Tulane’s QB depth chart are a pair of sophomores. Josh Coltrin and Josh Holl have hardly any college playing experience between the two of them. Coltrin has not seen the field yet and Holl only made one appearance last year in Tulane’s beatdown of Missouri State. Holl rushed for four yards in the contest. It seems very unlikely that either of these guys will compete for the starting job at this time.
What happens, though, if Fritz and his staff want to look outside the program for a QB? It’s certainly not unheard of. McMillan came over from LSU and we all know how that worked out. Tulane tried their luck in the transfer portal earlier this offseason when they went after Texas Tech’s Jett Duffey. Duffey, of course, was denied by the school’s academic office but had his grades been improved we would undoubtedly be focusing much of this article on him as the new starter.
Fritz is not wary of going that route at any position (see Corey Dauphine, Mykel Jones, McMillan, etc.). So it would be a mistake to rule out the possibility of him looking elsewhere to bring another outside guy in. For now though it seems that Howard is the guy and, if that’s the direction they go, it’s not a bad decision. McMillan left some big shoes to fill but it seems as of now that the best guy to do it is his former backup.
Our Depth Chart Prediction:
QB1 - Keon Howard
QB2 - Michael Pratt
QB3 - Josh Holl
QB4 - Justin Ibieta
QB5 - Josh Coltrin