Wednesday, January 25, 2012
Big 12 position rankings: Quarterback
By David Ubben
Today, we'll kick off a look at the postseason rankings for each position in the Big 12. Here's a look back on where our first position, quarterback, stood in the preseason.
Quarterbacks' rushing talents are factored into these rankings. As such, it's tough to figure out how to weigh that vs. passing acumen. Ultimately, teams ranked 4-7 were really, really close.
In these position rankings, we take into account backups, though that impact is minimal at the quarterback spot.
If your quarterback wins the Heisman, you're not finishing below No. 1 on this list. Robert Griffin IIIlit up defenses and broke the NCAA record for passing efficiency, even though Wisconsin's Russell Wilson did the same this year, and finished higher than RG3. Even when RG3 suffered concussion-like symptoms against Texas Tech, backup Nick Florencecame in and burned Texas Tech's defense in a 66-42 win. Griffin finished with as many touchdowns as Brandon Weeden (37), but threw as few interceptions as Collin Klein (6), despite throwing the ball 121 more times than Klein.
2. Oklahoma State
Brandon Weeden is a solid second place in this ranking, and backup Colton Chelflooked good in lots of mop-up duty, too. Weeden was the star, putting together an All-Big 12 caliber season, though Griffin's otherworldly performance in 2011 knocked him off his first-team perch from 2010. He led the league with 4,727 yards and 37 touchdowns. He also had the second-most pass attempts in the league, with 564.
Landry Jones got some help late in the season when Blake Bell's BellDozer racked up a team-high 13 touchdowns. Jones wasn't outstanding late in the season after Ryan Broyles' knee injury, but his receivers didn't help him much, either. The dropsies seemed to infect everybody after Broyles' college career ended. Jones finished with 4,463 yards passing, second most in the Big 12. He also added 29 touchdowns but must improve on his 15 interceptions, a regression back to freshman-year Jones.
4. Kansas State
Don't like Collin Klein's release? Get over it. He deserves this spot via his ability as a runner. He ranked fourth in the league with his 1,141 rushing yards and tied the Big 12 record with 27 touchdowns. That also tied Ricky Dobbs' FBS record for quarterbacks. He also threw for 1,918 yards and 13 touchdowns.
James Franklin's probably the best balance of runner and passer in the league, and quickly developed both throughout the season. He finished with 2,872 passing yards and 981 rushing yards. He also accounted for 36 touchdowns. Could we see a 3,000-yard passer and 1,000-yard rusher in the SEC next year?
6. Texas Tech
Seth Doege was one of the nation's best early in the season, but slipped up later in the season. He'll have the NCAA record for single-game completion percentage after connecting on 40-of-44 passes in a win over New Mexico, and he threw for 4,004 yards with 28 scores and 10 interceptions on a Big 12-high 581 pass attempts. After the win over Oklahoma at midseason, Doege threw just three touchdowns passes over the next four games while Tech dropped to 5-7 on the season.
7. Texas A&M
Ryan Tannehill's a physically impressive quarterback with a future in the NFL, but he didn't get it done in 2011. He started the season at fourth on this list, but Tannehill's turnovers played a huge role in the Aggies' second-half struggles this year, when A&M lost five games after leading by double digits, including 17- and 18-point leads against top-five teams Oklahoma State and Arkansas, respectively. He finished fifth in the league with 3,744 yards, but was seventh in the league in completion percentage and only Landry Jones had as many picks as Tannehill's 15. Jones, though, threw for over 700 more yards on just 32 more attempts.
8. Iowa State
The Cyclones rotated Steele Jantz and Jared Barnett this season, with Jantz handling the first half of the season and Barnett the second, thought Jantz replaced a benched Barnett in the Pinstripe Bowl loss to Rutgers. Barnett had the best day of any ISU quarterback this year, topping 375 passing yards and 80 rushing yards in an upset of Oklahoma State. Both QBs strung together three-game winning streaks, and Jantz did it with three fourth-quarter comebacks to start the season.
Texas never quite settled on a guy during the season, but it looks like David Ash will be the man who has time invested in him during the offseason with first-team reps in spring, summer and fall. This year, Ash struggled with decision-making. That's no surprise for a freshman. Case McCoy, meanwhile, limited what Texas was able to do in the passing game with his lack of both arm strength (chiefly) and experience, like Ash. Garrett Gilbert was benched in the season's second game and eventually transferred to SMU.
The Jayhawks ranked ninth in the league in pass defense and last in total offense by over 20 yards per game. KU fans would simply like to forget the last two years of quarterback play and focus on what could be a promising future under Charlie Weis with Dayne Crist set to take over and Jake Heaps waiting to grab the reins in 2013 and 2014.