Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Gauging the Big 12's spring quarterback battles
By ESPN.com staff
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
The biggest potential issue for any team during spring practice is settling on a starting quarterback. It makes vacation go a lot more smoothly for coaches if they know there's a firmly entrenched starter in place after spring practice concludes.
Here's a look at the quarterback situations in the Big 12, grouped by the level of confidence coaches should have in their players at the position.
No worries: Everything should be great here.
- Baylor: Robert Griffin is solidly in command and should only be better in his second season as the starter.
- Oklahoma: Hard to complain with defending Heisman Trophy winner Sam Bradford still in charge.
- Texas: Colt McCoy is still one of the top three returning quarterbacks in the nation, but John Chiles' position change makes the Longhorns' depth a little weak until Garrett Gilbert arrives this summer.
- Kansas: Todd Reesing ready for his senior season with almost every school passing record in his crosshairs.
- Oklahoma State: Bigger, stronger Zac Robinson might not want to run as much as the old Zac Robinson did.
Solid: A starter is firmly entrenched but he needs to pick up his effort this season.
- Iowa State: It will be interesting to see what Austen Arnaud does working with new coordinator Tom Herman. Will it be more like Herman's Rice offense in recent seasons? And will Arnaud be suited for that?
- Texas A&M: Talk of a quarterback controversy here will be likely that. Look for Jerrod Johnson to take control of the team during the spring and Ryan Tannehill to be back catching passes.
- Texas Tech: Even though Taylor Potts has never started a game before, Mike Leach is confident in what he will be able to do.
Red alert: Lack of a proven starter is a major cause for concern for each of these schools.
- Missouri: Blaine Gabbert appears to have taken the lead, but still has to prove his ability to consistently run the offense -- with a new coordinator in Dave Yost, to boot.
- Colorado: Cody Hawkins and Tyler Hansen both have had college success, but haven't been able to do it consistently. Matt Ballenger also will be a factor in what should be an intriguing and wide-open battle without a true favorite.
- Kansas State: Where have you gone Josh Freeman? New coach Bill Snyder will have to wade through the process of finding a starter with little-used Carson Coffman and junior college transfer Daniel Thomas favored to win out.
- Nebraska: The biggest positional question from making the Cornhuskers an overwhelming preseason choice to win the Big 12 North. After Patrick Witt bailed on Bo Pelini last month, it left Zac Lee, Kody Spano and incoming freshman Cody Green poised to replace Joe Ganz. Lee enters as the favorite, but will he be able to maintain that edge throughout spring practice?
We'll check these again at the end of spring practice to see how they've changed.