Spring QB competition: Mountain West

February, 7, 2011
2/07/11
10:30
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Today we will take a look at open quarterback competitions among the non-AQ schools going into the spring. There will be plenty of fresh faces throughout the non-AQs, and you will see that in the Mountain West. Incredibly, TCU will have a new starting quarterback for the first time since 2006 with Andy Dalton gone to the next level.

Three other schools have open positions as well. Let’s take a closer look:

New Mexico

Who’s competing: Nobody is really out as the starter, considering the Lobos played four different quarterbacks this past season for various reasons. All four are back. B.R. Holbrook, the presumptive starter, had knee surgery at the end of the season and his status for the spring is up in the air. Freshman Stump Godfrey started the last five games, and freshman Tarean Austin also played. So did Brad Gruner, who has been a backup his entire career. Godfrey and Austin definitely gained experience last season, so that should help them out, but coach Mike Locksley wants this to be a wide-open competition to see who will step up.

[+] EnlargeAndy Dalton
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireAndy Dalton led TCU to a 13-0 record and a Rose Bowl title this past season.
TCU

Who’s out: Dalton.

Who’s competing: Sophomore Casey Pachall and redshirt freshman Matt Brown. Pachall served as Dalton’s backup last season and saw extended action in the season finale against New Mexico after Dalton injured his elbow. He appears to be the heir apparent. But just because he has some playing experience doesn’t mean the job will be handed to him. Brown was one of the top dual-threat quarterbacks in Texas when he signed with the Horned Frogs in 2010 after initially committing to Arizona. He redshirted this past season. Both have ability, but you know coach Gary Patterson will be looking for that huge intangible Dalton had in spades -- leadership. One other note: Yogi Gallegos, on the roster the past three seasons, has elected to transfer.

UNLV

Who’s out: Omar Clayton ended his career as one of the best quarterbacks in school history.

Who’s competing: The Rebels only have two returning quarterbacks on the roster: sophomore-to-be Caleb Herring and redshirt freshman Taylor Barnhill. But they did sign a junior college transfer in January who is already enrolled in school (Sean Reilly). He spent last season starting for Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, Calif., going 200-for-330 for 2,323 yards and 20 touchdowns with just six interceptions. Herring was Clayton’s backup last season and saw extended playing time, looking good in spurts. But this one appears to be a three-man race headed into the spring, with Herring and Reilly the top two challengers.

Wyoming

Who’s out: Austyn Carta-Samuels decided to transfer.

Who’s competing: Redshirt freshman Emory Miller and true freshman Brett Smith. Not the ideal situation for the Cowboys, who were banking on Carta-Samuels returning until he changed his mind. Backup Dax Crum was a senior so now you are left with two players who have never taken a snap in a college game. At least Miller has been in the program for one season after redshirting in 2010. Smith graduated from high school early, enrolled in January and will be eligible for spring practice.

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