Thursday, April 5, 2012
What's the worth in naming a starting QB?
By David Ubben
When it comes to quarterback, Bob Stoops lives a charmed life these days.
Not many coaches can boast a bona fide Heisman contender -- Landry Jones -- with 37 career starts to his name entering the 2012 season. Stoops can.
But looking at both of the Sooners' rivals, it's a different picture.
Texas is engrossed in a two-man derby between David Ash and Case McCoy. North of the Sooners, Oklahoma State is playing host to a battle between junior Clint Chelf and a pair of freshmen, J.W. Walsh (redshirt) and Wes Lunt (early enrollee).
Oklahoma has the luxury of returning Landry Jones at quarterback next season. The Sooners' rivals are much more in flux.
Texas nearly has its man; Ash is handling the majority of the first-team snaps.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma State is still splitting first-team reps evenly and doesn't have much separation between the three. Neither Texas or Oklahoma State has named a starter.
Stoops will have to replace Jones next season, but if he were in Mike Gundy or Mack Brown's shoes, he wouldn't hurry to name a quarterback.
"There's so much that can happen from the end of spring," Stoops told ESPN in Norman this week. "Just think about the amount of time before you take a snap in a game. So, I always felt having our guys continue to remain very competitive was the best thing."
Brown didn't name Garrett Gilbert his starter until the week before the Longhorns' opener against Rice last season. Texas' spring ended with Sunday's spring game and once again, Brown didn't name a starter.
Gundy, meanwhile, has seven practices remaining in the spring and wants separation. What about the notion that a team needs a commanding presence during the summer, when coaches can't oversee player workouts and it's up to a team leader to organize?
"I think that's overrated," Stoops said. "What, Ryan Broyles can't do that? A big-time receiver can't orchestrate it? Or the two (quarterbacks) can't say, 'Hey, we're meeting at this time.'?
“Or your team pride. What, I need the quarterback to tell me I need to come in here and work hard? You've got 100 guys on a team … they oughtta all be pushing each other to get in here and work. Heck, (former OU tight end) Jermaine Gresham could have grabbed everybody by the throat and made sure they were here."
Gundy and offensive coordinator Todd Monken see it quite differently.
"I don’t think it’s overrated," Gundy told ESPN in Stillwater this week. "I think it needs to be there. Can you have a lineman do it? Yeah. It’s not the same. This’ll be a big summer for us, because whoever we feel like is going to be our quarterback, he has to develop some leadership and I feel like that’s all part of it."
Said Monken: "You’re staring at two guys who played quarterback, Mike and I. So from our end of it, that’s how we’re going to see it. Stoops, he played DB, so he doesn’t care. He sees it a different way, and he’s right, anybody can organize it, but that’s not usually the case."
Monken's biggest reason? Quarterbacks need it more than anyone else. OSU receiver Justin Blackmon lived with a walk-on quarterback during his career, and anytime he wanted to get some work, he had an arm who could throw him balls at full speed.
Quarterbacks, though? Work is work, but throwing to walk-ons or friends isn't the same as throwing to targets with sub-4.5 speed like they will in live games.
"Quarterbacks need those guys to function," Monken said. "I don’t blame anybody for their opinion. That’s their opinion, but the reality is that the guys that are usually in charge of the summer workouts are the QBs because it affects them the most."
He added: "There’s something to be said for the guy that leads your team being the organizer. It doesn’t have to be, but it certainly helps."
Oklahoma State doesn't know who its quarterback will be. It would love to name him by spring. But even with the stakes high during the summer, they have no plans to force a decision.
"If we don’t know, then we won’t do it, but if we do, then we’ll do it," Gundy said. "That’s as important as anything we do in the offseason."