Thursday, March 1, 2012
Ranking the Big 12 spring QB battles
By David Ubben
Spring is already underway at three Big 12 schools (Texas, TCU, Texas Tech), but it's March today, and we're headed for full swing this month.
Here's what you can expect when it comes to quarterback competitions this fall. Each spot is ranked from most to least secure entering spring 2012.
FASTEN YOUR SEATBELTS
1. Oklahoma State: This should be the best battle by far. Junior Clint Chelf is the elder statesman of the group, but redshirt freshman J.W. Walsh and early enrolling true freshman Wes Lunt were both much more highly recruited. Lunt hails from Illinois and Walsh from Denton, Texas, but Chelf, from nearby Enid, Okla., will try to hold off the younger guys to grab the reins of one of the most powerful passing offenses in the country.
2. Texas: The Longhorns didn't resolve much late in the season, but David Ash had the best finish, helping Texas win the Holiday Bowl. Case McCoy is back, too, though, and the coaches say the competition is still wide open. Early enrolling freshman Connor Brewer would like to crash the party, and he and Ash are more physically gifted passers, but McCoy made plenty of plays during the season. He'll be right there fighting, too.
TIME TO LOCK IT DOWN
3. Iowa State: Jared Barnett looked like the future of the program over the second half of the season, but struggled down the stretch and opened the door for senior Steele Jantz, who helped Iowa State start the season 3-0 before being benched for Barnett. It's probably Barnett's job, but he's got to earn it. If he doesn't improve, Jantz could take advantage.
4. Baylor: Nick Florence started nine games in 2009 with mixed results, but looked good in relief of Heisman winner Robert Griffin III in a win over Texas Tech. Coach Art Briles says it's Florence's job to lose to start the spring, but Bryce Petty will be looming during the spring, too.
5. Kansas: Last year's starter, Jordan Webb, has transferred, and ex-Golden Domer Dayne Crist is on campus and taking part in promotional videos for the program. He looks like the guy, but juco national champion Turner Baty is joining the team, too. Could Michael Cummings be a factor, too? Jake Heaps is waiting his turn until 2013 while he sits out his NCAA-mandated redshirt season after transferring from BYU.
FIX ALL THE LITTLE THINGS
6. Oklahoma: Hush, Sooner fans clamoring for Blake Bell. He's part of the Belldozer gadget formation that produced 13 rushing touchdowns in the final half of 2011. But it's exactly that, a gadget formation. If OU can run the ball between the tackles well next year, we may not even see much of it. He's not touching Landry Jones' spot, though. Jones enters 2011 as a legitimate Heisman contender.
7. Kansas State: Collin Klein is the guy at Kansas State, but he's still got to develop as a passer. We'll see what kind of growth he shows this offseason.
8. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders' coaches were pleased with Seth Doege's performance in all but two games (Iowa State, Oklahoma State), but the defense gave him almost no chance to succeed. He's back this spring. Michael Brewer's development is encouraging, but it's highly unlikely we see any shift in the starter's status.
9. TCU: Casey Pachall threw for 25 touchdowns, seven picks and completed 66.5 percent of his passes. His top three targets return. When it comes to the QB spot, the spring is about preparing for a big year on offense at TCU.
10. West Virginia: Geno Smith makes WVU's offense go, and he'll be back for his senior year with big hopes in Morgantown. Smith threw for 4,385 yards and 31 touchdowns with just seven interceptions. Like Pachall, Smith's spring is about getting ready for a memorable Big 12 debut.