Three days ahead of UW-Whitewater’s season-opening football game, head coach Kevin Bullis offered no new revelations on the Warhawks’ starting quarterback position.
UW-W opens its season Saturday at 2 p.m., hosting Dubuque at Perkins Stadium.
Juniors Zach Oles and Max Meylor have emerged as the team’s top two options to replace graduated three-year starer Cole Wilber. Oles is listed as the No. 1 option on the two-deep depth chart released Wednesday, but Bullis said no final decisions have been made. And it appears both Oles and Meylor will get opportunities early in the year.
“We’re still working things out,” Bullis said. “It is an option to play both of them. So we’ve got three more days of practice, and those things are all part of the evaluation process that will help (offensive coordinator Peter) Jennings finalize that decision on what quarterback he wants under center.”
Oles, out of Palatine, Illinois, played in nine games for the Warhawks last season. He completed 16 of 22 passes for 268 yards and five touchdowns and also ran for 157 yards.
Oles began his career at FCS-level Butler, where he redshirted in 2017.
“Zach is a guy that (is) kind of gritty, hard-nosed,” Bullis said. “A tough-nosed, blue-collar quarterback.”
Meylor played for Mount Horeb/Barneveld in high school and transferred to Whitewater from Lindenwood University in Missouri. He played in seven games there, including three last season, when he completed 6 of 8 passes for 53 yards and a touchdown.
“Max is kind of high-energy ... a great athlete who played basketball,” Bullis said. “So they really kind of both bring different pieces to it. But their consistency and productivity is fantastic.”
Bullis said that while the competition has been fierce for the starting job, it has also fostered a good relationship between Oles and Meylor.
“Those guys help each other,” Bullis said. “They know the greater good of this team is the ultimate goal, and that is their responsibility. They help each other get better, not just as competitors, but coaching each other and helping each other out.”
Using two quarterbacks would not be foreign to Bullis, who is entering his fifth season as Whitewater’s head coach.
In 2016, Wilber and Chris Nelson shared responsibilities. Wilber played in 12 games that season and attempted 266 passes. Nelson played in 11 games, throwing the ball nearly 100 times. The Warhawks went 12-1 that season.
Bullis said he and his staff may need to see both Oles and Meylor in a game setting to further evaluate who gives them the best chance to win.
“The ultimate evaluation is gameday,” Bullis said. “We don’t hit our quarterbacks in practice. We’re not tackling them or putting them on the ground.
“Even during that scrimmage, we’re not hitting quarterbacks. They’ve got a red jersey on them for a reason. ... It’s easy to stand back in that pocket when you know your teammates that are practicing against you aren’t going to hit you. Obviously Dubuque’s plan is to hit them.
“So there’s no doubt that becomes a big piece of the evaluation, and that could be one reason we go with two quarterbacks in that game. You get a feel for who is comfortable, who’s poised and who’s able to execute on a consistent basis.”