One of the football team’s biggest questions of the fall has been answered.
Patrick Witt ’12, the transfer quarterback from Nebraska, will be starting when the Bulldogs take on Georgetown on Saturday afternoon. Head coach Tom Williams announced the decision in a conference call with reporters Tuesday.
“We had a tight quarterback competition,” Williams said. “We had four guys coming into camp that we felt like were competing for the position. [Witt and Brook Hart ’11] separated themselves and we let it go until this Sunday’s practice. We felt like Patrick Witt has earned the opportunity to start, although we think that we can win with both guys.”
The Yale coaching staff had previously been very secretive about their feelings on the matter.
Witt started in the Sept. 5 scrimmage against Union College, but Hart played the second half, the job still up for grabs at the time. On the depth chart for the scrimmage, Witt and Hart had been designated “1a” and “1b,” respectively.
According to both Witt and Williams, the competition for the starting spot was intense, lasting through three weeks of practices, including training camp.
“We’re doing our best to make it hard for our coaches to make a decision,” Witt said last week in an interview, at that time still not knowing where the coaches were leaning.
In the end, Williams said that he based his decision on Witt’s reliability.
“His body of work from the start of fall camp to today has been more consistent,” Williams said.
Witt does boast an intriguing résumé: Before transferring to Yale, he was expected to compete this season for the starting quarterback spot at the University of Nebraska, a historical football powerhouse that is part of the Big XII Conference.
Instead, Witt decided to transfer out of Nebraska and into Yale, which he says he chose largely for the value of an Ivy League education, something his brother Jeff experienced while playing quarterback for the Harvard team.
Despite having chosen Witt as the starter, Williams noted that he has high levels of confidence in both players.
“In any level of football, you need two good quarterbacks to win, and we are excited that we’ve got two that we feel good about,” he said.
Williams said that Hart will receive playing time against Georgetown as well, although he did not specify when he would play.
This will not be the first time that Hart has found himself exchanging quarterbacking duties with a teammate. Last year Hart lost the competition at the beginning of the season to Ryan Fodor ’09, only to later win the job and play the entirety of the last five games of the season.
While the uncertainty of the quarterback position may have been taxing on players and fans alike, Williams has found positive outcomes from the intra-team competition.
“[Hart] has pushed [Witt] to be even better,” Coach Williams said. “That’s what great: our team has been elevated. Our level of competition across the board has been elevated by the battle at quarterback.”