Northern Colorado choosing starting QB

Updated: August 25, 2003, 8:44 PM ET

GREELEY, Colo. -- The quarterback slot is up for grabs at Northern Colorado.

Coach Kay Dalton said Monday he still hadn't made up his mind between senior Steve Cutlip and sophomore Tony Christensen. The Bears open the season Saturday at home against New Mexico Highlands.

"You know me. I'm not going to name one unless I think I know who I'm going to name and I have to have reasons," Dalton said. "I want to make sure we name the one we have reasons to substantiate that position."

Dalton had hoped to make his choice based on the team's final scrimmage last Saturday. But the defense repeatedly used blitzes during the scrimmage.

"We had so many plays where the quarterback was hurried or sacked that I really didn't get a good evaluation from the scrimmage," Dalton said. "Right now it would be unfair to make a judgment based on a scrimmage I thought was unfair."

The battle between Christensen and Cutlip remained too close to call, the coach said. Each had their moments in the scrimmage, with Christensen gaining an edge by handling the overall offense better and Cutlip, who threw for 557 yards and three touchdowns a year ago, having an edge in the passing game.

This wouldn't be the first time Dalton began a season without a No. 1 quarterback. Last year, Cutlip and Mark Passard alternated halves until Cutlip won the starting job for the Bears' third game.

"Heck, you could go from week-to-week, day-to-day or game-to-game," Dalton said. "I've never been in a hurry to name a quarterback.

"It's not like pro football when you are paying some guy $10 million and he better play," Dalton said. "My players are getting about the same amount of scholarship money as the other guy."

Earlier this month, the NCAA ruled that Northern Colorado must forfeit three wins from the 2002 football season because Cutlip played while ineligible for academic reasons.

Northern Colorado opens with Division II New Mexico Highlands, but this season is its first in Division I-AA play. Five of their six road games are against I-AA opponents.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index