In the end, Muh seized the job outright, and head coach Joe Susan is confident he'll be able to direct the Bison's new-look offense.
“Matt has shown the ability to take the new things we’re doing offensively and execute them,” Susan said. “He’s very smart with his throws and controls the run game and protections very well. He's a veteran guy, and, while he's not an outspoken player, in the huddle he demands respect and gets respect. This summer, he worked hard to become more mobile, and it shows. At this time, for what we consider our team's needs, Matt won the position.”
A year ago, both Muh and Chiarolanzio took snaps after presumptive starter R.J. Nitti, who left Bucknell ranked second in career touchdown passes (34) and third in career passing yards (5,171), struggled with injury.
Muh started four of the five games he played in and led the team with 847 passing yards. He also tied Nitti for the team lead with four touchdown passes and threw for at least 200 yards in three-straight games from Sept. 17 to Oct. 8.
After Muh went down with an injury against Colgate, Chiarolanzio was called into action. Chiarolanzio, who played in five of the final six games of the season, finished with 364 yards and one touchdown.
“John is going to be a very good player here,” Susan said. "He has some things he needs to continue to work on, but it’s nice to have him behind Matt. He may be more of a threat as a runner but still has a very good downfield arm. He’s another big, strong guy, and he stepped in and did a good job as a freshman.”
Sophomore Jake Wilson and freshman Logan Bitikofer are still competing for the third spot on the Bison depth chart. Susan said the coaching staff will continue to evaluate them as they transition into taking scout-team reps.
“That’s where John started last year, and he showed us he could push the ball around,” Susan said. "Jake and Logan are both young quarterbacks, and they're going to have opportunities. With them, we’re in better shape in terms of the depth at quarterback than we were last year.”
NOTES: Bucknell has five quarterbacks on the roster: two seniors, two sophomores and one freshman ... Each of Bucknell’s quarterbacks stand at least 6-foot-1 and weigh at least 190 pounds ... Bobby Acosta, the new offensive coordinator, is set to work with the quarterbacks ... Acosta installed many new offensive packages during camp ... Muh established a strong connection with tight ends Andrew Owers and Andrew Podbielski ... Muh and Chiarolanzio both showed the ability to spread the ball around; with 10 wide receivers, seven tight ends/fullbacks and a pair of running backs in Joey DeFloria and Chad Freshnock who can also be utilized as receivers, Bucknell should be able to move the ball down the field ... According to Susan, Muh didn't throw an interception during camp ... Muh and Chiarolanzio are the only quarterbacks on the roster with game experience ... Susan praised Muh's ability to make deep, direct throws, especially down the middle of the field: “Sometimes, long balls have to be direct throws, and Matt has a good feel for throwing those. Obviously, there are going to be fades, and we as a team need to get better at those, but the balls Matt has thrown down the field, over the middle of the field, have been intelligent throws. He does a great job of reading the differences in the levels of coverage.”
This concludes Bucknell's 2017 position preview series. The Bison open their season next Saturday, Sept. 2, by taking on Marist at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium. Kickoff is slated for 6 p.m., and fans will be treated to post-game fireworks and much more. Tickets can be purchased online at www.bucknell.edu/boxoffice or by calling the Campus Box Office at 570-577-1000.
Past Position Previews: