As close as Western Kentucky’s quarterback competition was in fall camp and considering the verbal option to be open to playing two QBs, head coach Tyson Helton is still putting his open confidence in Steven Duncan as the one to lead the offense.

It’s really the only way to establish consistency anyway.

Through two games, the redshirt junior Duncan has taken all but one snap at quarterback for the Hilltoppers. The job throughout spring and fall camp was truly a two-way battle between Duncan and Arkansas graduate transfer Ty Storey.

Duncan was named the starter about a week before WKU’s opener against Central Arkansas, but Helton said he was open to playing both quarterbacks if the right situation occurred.

So far, the only time Storey has seen the field was a designed run that Florida International stuffed for no gain in the red zone last Saturday in Miami.

“I really want to continue to develop Steven,” Helton said during his Monday news conference. “He has a lot of growth potential. As we all know, he does some really good things and some bad things. He knows that as well. He can’t get any better if he doesn’t go out there and continue to try to play.”

Duncan has led WKU to a 1-1 record with a tall order against Louisville coming up Saturday at 3 p.m. at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. He’s completed 45-of-72 pass attempts for 545 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions.

He had a career-game against UCA in Week 1 with 26-of-39 passing for 304 yards. Duncan was the most experienced Hilltopper QB entering the year with 109 completions for 1,071 yards in nine games last season.

By comparison, Duncan is moving the ball better for the offense with half the passing yards through two games this year than he had in all nine in 2018.

But it’s Duncan’s two interceptions in each game that have been the root of Helton’s concerns addressed in public.

Duncan’s two picks against Central Arkansas were clear overthrown balls to receivers. On Saturday at FIU, Duncan underthrew a ball intended for Jahcour Pearson, who had space down the left sideline for a potential score if completed. Instead, Richard Dames leaped for a one-handed interception and returned it 80 yards for a touchdown to tie the game in the first quarter.

Duncan’s second interception was a throw into double coverage downfield.

“There’s two ways to play, scared or not and we’re not going to play scared,” Helton told the Daily News after the game Saturday in Miami. “If the quarterback makes a deep throw for an interception. … He came to the sideline and I got on him but said, ‘Guess what, throw it down there again. Get ready.’ If you’re going to win football games, you can’t be scared. You’ve got to go play and we’ll always play that way offensively.”

Storey’s Hilltopper debut came on the second drive against the Panthers when WKU got inside the FIU 10-yard line. The play came right after two long completions from Duncan to Lucky Jackson and Kyle Fourtenbary that eventually set up the first score. Storey’s designed keeper went to the left and was stopped for no gain.

“We got down in the red zone early and wanted to get a QB run in there,” Helton said. “I put Ty in and nothing Ty did, they did a nice job defending it. The rest of the night how the flow of the game went, we just didn’t have an opportunity to get him in the game.

“I do like our QB unit, I like our room. I think we have several guys that can go out there and help us win football games, but only one guy can go out there and play. Steven has shown enough for us to continue to develop him. He’s going to have to continue to do that because there’s other guys behind him that would love the opportunity to show I can do it, too.”{&end}

– Follow WKU athletics beat writer Elliott Pratt on Twitter @EPrattBGDN or visit


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