There are many question marks surrounding University of Delaware quarterback Trent Hurley entering the 2013 campaign. The Bowling Green transfer struggled at times during his first season as the UD starter, tossing more interceptions (14) than touchdowns (10). There were occasions when he held the ball too long, and he had a nagging tendency to battle bouts of inaccuracy for prolonged periods. All that being said, one thing about Hurley is concrete; You won’t find a tougher football player in the entire CAA conference.
This was a fact his head coach learned quickly upon arriving in Newark.
“Initially, prior to even watching any film, on multiple occasions everybody kept telling me how tough the quarterback is,” Brock said. “And I kept thinking to myself; ‘how do they know how tough he is?’ Then you saw some of the hits he took and they were horrific. And then he’d just keep getting up.”
Brock does not spend much time discussing last season, but he obviously watched every snap UD took in 2012 many times over. He saw what everyone else did. He inherited a quarterback who was so determined to make something happen, he would often put his own body in harm’s way trying to extend a play for his teammates. It’s a trait Brock said earns you a lot of respect from your teammates, but it’s also something he would like to see less of in 2013.
“We do not want to put his toughness on display again,” Brock said. “He’s got to be a smarter player and he’s got to protect himself in the environment where he can control it.
That last point alludes to the primary problem for Hurley last year, which was a complete lack of protection up front.
Many of his issues in 2012 can be traced to poor play by an inexperienced offensive line. Even when he didn’t hold the ball too long, Hurley often took a vicious shot just as he was releasing a pass. He was under constant duress, and was forced to hurry almost everything. That’s a tough way for any quarterback to survive, let alone find success.
Brock feels as though some scheme changes up front will buy his quarterback some additional time to take a deep breath in the pocket every once in a while. He also thinks game management might help prevent a few hits per week on his signal caller.
“There are a number of things that you can do, including play-calling and the style of plays you call in certain situations that are very, very important,” Brock acknowledged. “There’s no fan that would ever like the fact that maybe on third-and-18, rather than drop back and have your quarterback assaulted, you hand it off and flip the field with a punt. But you live to play another play.”
If UD can get that done, Hurley should stay healthy. That would give him a realistic shot to accomplish what he is capable of. The signal caller showed glimpses of greatness against West Chester, William & Mary and in the first half at Old Dominion, but he also was far too loose with the football in losses to New Hampshire, Richmond and Villanova.
Due to those issues with ball security, Hurley had to compete for his job during summer camp. He held off senior Trevor Sasek in a spirited battle for the starting spot.
“I think we had a great competition and ultimately, like we talk about, we are going to go with the guy we feel is going to give us the best chance to win,” Brock said. “Both guys, I think, can win for us. We had to make a decision, it’s my decision, and that’s what I felt was the best thing for the program going forward.”
When asked what specific characteristics helped push the dial toward Hurley, Brock alluded to his escapability, but also acknowledged that the decision really came down to intangibles.
“I don’t know that there was something that separated (Hurley and Sasek) in terms of one dynamic thing,” Brock said. “It wouldn’t be arm strength. It’s not size. It’s not speed. Neither one of them are technically or truly a runner sort of speak. It really was a feeling that (Hurley) gave us a slightly better opportunity to win.
"You really have to pick the one you pick based on, even though you do not like it, who ultimately gives you - in my opinion - the best chance to be successful through the year. That’s what the decision came down to.”
Now Hurley has to back his coach’s gut-feeling up by being consistent. His fate may well be linked to how much the offensive line has improved, but at the same time, Delaware’s 2013 destiny will likely be determined by how far Hurley has progressed.