Thursday, April 21, 2011
The Big 12's 3,000-yard passers in 2011
By ESPN.com staff
We've taken a look at the 1,000-yard rushers and their counterparts, the 1,000-yard receivers of 2011.
For quarterbacks, the line for a big year is most often drawn at the 3,000-yard mark.
You'll see plenty of them in a quarterbacks' league like the Big 12, but only 27 quarterbacks in college football crossed into 3,000-yard territory last season, and 25 in 2009.
By comparison, 48 running backs topped 1,000 yards last season and 32 receivers did it. So, 3,000 yards may not sound like a huge deal with Texas Tech and Oklahoma slinging it like they do, but it is.
Last season, of those 27 quarterbacks, five were from the Big 12. The season before? Six made the cut. It's not easy. For a 12-game season, quarterbacks have to average 250 yards per game.
Again, this is not a ranking of necessarily the best quarterbacks in the Big 12, though that does factor in. These are the quarterbacks whose situation best sets them up to reach 3,000 yards.
1. Landry Jones, Oklahoma -- Jones topped 3,000 yards as a freshman filling in for an injured Sam Bradford in 2009 and had 4,718 yards last season, almost 500 yards more than anyone else in the Big 12. He also had the most attempts of any quarterback in college football. It's safe to say he's got this.
2. Brandon Weeden, Oklahoma State -- Weeden is probably a good bet to clear 4,000 yards, too. He had 4,277 last season and brings back a Biletnikoff Award winner at receiver in Justin Blackmon. He and Jones should be locked in a season-long battle for a spot as the first-team All-Big 12 quarterback, among other honors.
3. Seth Doege, Texas Tech -- Texas Tech has had a 3,000-yard passer for 11 consecutive seasons, the longest streak in college football. Coach Tommy Tuberville wants to run it more, but not that much more. Doege looks likely to slide into a spot as the next in line for two seasons.
4. Robert Griffin III, Baylor -- Griffin's 3,501 yards was his first 3,000-yard season, and he showed lots of development as a passer during his sophomore campaign. That should continue as a junior in 2011, and he's got a deep, talented receiving corps.
5. Ryan Tannehill, Texas A&M -- Tannehill only had 1,638 yards last season, but he did it in just more than six games. With Jeff Fuller and a handful of other capable receivers, he should clear the mark easily in 2010.
6. Tyler Gabbert/James Franklin, Missouri -- I don't have much doubt that the pair will combine for at least 3,000 yards, but Missouri has a handful of solid running backs and both look like capable quarterbacks. If one struggles, the other could fill in and leave the Tigers without a 3,000-yard man at the helm.
7. Texas' starting quarterback -- The Longhorns have some potential at receiver, and a proven play-caller, but the quarterbacks will have to show me something before I have faith in them to cross the 3,000-yard mark. Texas is likely to run the ball a bit more this season, and despite his struggles, Garrett Gilbert did have 2,744 yards last season. It could happen.
8. Iowa State's starting quarterback -- Iowa State wants athleticism from its quarterback, which could mean a good offense, but Steele Jantz or Jerome Tiller running the ball will take a chunk out of any possible passing yards. Additionally, even with Darius Reynolds coming on strong and Aaron Horne looking like a contributor, the quarterbacks won't find it easy to hit 3,000 yards.
9. Kansas State's starting quarterback -- Justin Tuggle is a bit of a wildcard, but his main competition, Collin Klein, didn't show much consistency as a passer last season and both are known more for their athletic ability.
10. Kansas' starting quarterback -- Freshman Brock Berglund is the wildcard, but even if he starts, Kansas doesn't have the talent at receiver to hit the mark just yet. Look for the Jayhawks to focus more on the running game, where they have lots of depth at running back.
My prediction: Jones, Weeden, Doege, Griffin, Tannehill, Gabbert/Franklin