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Olson: Griffith is QB - for now

Southern Oregon University head coach Jeff Olson didn't — exactly go out of his way to defuse talk of a Raider quarterback controversy — Thursday.

Olson said senior Brandon Griffith will enter preseason — camp as the No. — guy, but was quick to add that the battle for the starting — spot will resume when the team reconvenes Monday.

"As of today, (Griffith) is the starter," Olson said. — "But — as we head into fall camp it's still going to be a very competitive — camp, and I say that in a positive way because I think that spring showed — that we have a very talented class here."

Redshirt junior Justin Despotakis, sophomore Boomer Marshall — and sophomore Dan Downey are also in the running to become the Raiders' — next starting QB.

Griffith, listed at 6-foot-1, 220 pounds, is the most — experienced of the four, serving as Dan Woodward's backup for the past — two seasons. 'Experienced' is a relative team, however.

In his first three seasons, Griffith has yet to start — and has thrown less than 30 passes - he's completed 19 of 29 for 301 yards — and four touchdowns.

Despotakis, a 6-6, 240-pound signal caller, started the — last game of the 2003 season and finished the year with a .650 completion — percentage (13 of 20) with 128 passing yards and a touchdown.

Marshall may be the darkhorse. The former Southern Oregon — Conference offensive MVP is entering his sophomore season after a record-breaking — three-year run at South Medford High. He's big - 6-3, 245 pounds - and — had the best showing among Raider QBs in the team's intrasquad game May — 8, when he completed 10 of 16 passes for 67 yards and a touchdown.

Downey, a sophomore from Clackamas High,

completed 5 of 8 passes for 48 yards in the intrasquad — game but has yet to see a game snap.

Olson said all four are capable, but that Griffith has — distinguished himself in the huddle.

"More than anything right now, it's his leadership abilities," — Olson said. "He was elected as one of our team captains after the spring — and Brandon's never started a game here, so that tells me a little bit — about what his teammates think of him."

Even if Griffith starts in the Raiders' Sept. 4 season — opener, Olson said a change could come at any time during the season. —

An ongoing competition for the most important position — may worry some coaches, but Olson says it can be a good thing for the — Raiders "if it's handled right."

"I think part of it will be how the quarterbacks handle — each other," he said. "Certainly there's going to be some competition, — but if there's a division, that will hurt us. But last spring and so far — this summer (during 7-on-7 passing camp) they've been very supportive — of each other. That kind of attitude will certainly help us."