Thursday, April 19, 2012
UT not only Big 12 school with QB questions
By Carter Strickland
AUSTIN, Texas -- The Big 12 is supposed to be about quarterbacks and production.
After all, over the past three NFL Drafts, only the SEC has produced as many picks as the Big 12. Both have six. The next closest -- Pac-12, ACC and Big 10 -- all have three.
And, of course, there are three more former Big 12 quarterbacks expected to be drafted this year.
West Virginia is one of the few Big 12 schools that is settled at quarterback.
So it comes as no surprise during this spring, like most others, all the talk has centered around QBs.
And let’s not forget the debates at Baylor, Kansas, Iowa State and Oklahoma State that center on just who the quarterback will be in 2012.
This spring was a time to settle the debates. OK not all. The Smith-Jones thing will be settled Nov. 17 in Morgantown, W.V. As for the others, some have been settled -- Baylor, Kansas -- while others -- Oklahoma State, Iowa State and yes, Texas -- still remain open for discussion.
At Baylor, Nick Florence started the spring as the starter and ended it that way. Florence, who started the last seven games of 2009 when Robert Griffin III was injured, doesn’t have the weapons at wide receiver that Griffin had. But he does have Lache Seastrunk, a transfer from Oregon, the ever-imaginitive Art Briles as his coach and the experience of being a starter in the past.
Briles might use both Florence and sophomore Bryce Petty in 2012. Petty had a solid spring and has shown some of the consistency that Briles is after in his quarterback.
What is more certain is that Briles will utilize Seastrunk in every way possible. The former high school All-America went for 138 yards on seven touches in the spring game. Combine that with first-team running back Jarred Salubi’s 88 yards on seven touches and Baylor has a one-two punch that could very well fill the void left by Terrance Ganaway.
Over at Kansas, offense numbers were pretty difficult to come by in the Turner Gil era. That’s why the Jayhawks turned to Charlie Weis and Weis turned to Dayne Crist.
Crist was Weis’ quarterback at Notre Dame. Neither was successful there. Both believe they can be successful at KU.
One advantage is that Crist is very familiar with the offense and that has helped shorten the learning curve for the Jayhawks. Still, being quarterback at Kansas is a Sisyphean task these days. And while Crist might have pro potential, he might not have an opportunity to showcase it.
At Oklahoma State, coach Mike Gundy has consistently said this spring he wants there to be a continuation of the high level of quarterback play established by Brandon Weeden. He has not, however, established which quarterback can do just that. Not having Justin Blackmon at receiver is certainly hurting the process as well.
Clint Chelf appeared to be the heir apparent. But the junior has not looked fantastic in the spring and Gundy has yet to endorse him as the clear-cut starter. J.W. Walsh, who redshirted last season, and early enrollee Wes Lunt also both have a shot.
Gundy claims he will name a starter next week. He is also not worried about replacing Blackmon. Well, not too worried. Seniors Tracy Moore and Isaiah Anderson lead a group of six wide receivers.
While Gundy has a timetable on naming a starter, Iowa State’s Paul Rhoads is still in head-scratching mode. Steele Jantz started the season for the Cyclones and pulled off a big win against Iowa. After a foot injury to Jantz, Jared Barnett ended the season and pulled off an even bigger win against Oklahoma State.
Rhoads will apparently wait until August to name a starter.
That is the same tactic being employed by Texas.
The other three schools -- TCU, Texas Tech and Kansas State -- like Oklahoma and West Virginia, have established starters at quarterback who each accounted for at least 27 touchdowns and 10 or less interceptions. In other words, they were productive, just like the top Big 12 quarterbacks have been in the past.