QB questions remain at three Big Ten schools
Penn State named senior Daryll Clark as its starting quarterback Tuesday, but three Big Ten schools remain undecided under center. Michigan, Iowa and Indiana face some key decisions later this week, and the coaches from all three teams weighed in on their situations Tuesday during the Big Ten coaches' teleconference.
Here's a closer look:
Kirk Ferentz wants to evaluate quarterbacks Jake Christensen and Ricky Stanzi throughout the week of practice before naming a starter. Christensen held the job last season and seemed likely to reclaim it, but Stanzi has made a charge in training camp after a shoulder injury caused him to miss the first few practices.
Stanzi, a 6-foot-4, 225-pound sophomore, played in two games last fall and didn't complete any of his four pass attempts.
"He's a year younger than Jake and he's grown and become more comfortable," Ferentz said. "He's improved in all phases, throwing the football, knowing the offense. He just looks like a guy that belongs out there on the football field. He's a viable candidate now where a year ago he was more down the line."
Christensen's struggles last season could be partly attributed to personnel losses at wide receiver and a poor offensive line, but Ferentz is looking for greater consistency from the junior. Though the offense struggled in an Aug. 16 scrimmage, Ferentz remains optimistic.
"Both guys are performing well," Ferentz said. "We have confidence in both guys."
Rich Rodriguez reiterated that he's more interested in getting both Steven Threet and Nick Sheridan ready to play in Saturday's opener against Utah than identifying a clear starter. Rodriguez admitted he wouldn't mind having another month of practice to prepare his new-look offense but expects both Threet and Sheridan to be able to run the system.
"Steve's maybe a little bit taller and Nick might run a little bit better, but their skill sets are pretty similar," Rodriguez said. "We want guys to execute the system, not make the big turnover. They're in their first year in the system, so everything is going to happen to them faster than it will as the season goes along."
Unlike his colleagues at Penn State and Michigan, Indiana coach Bill Lynch isn't entertaining thoughts of using multiple quarterbacks. But Lynch has yet to decide on whether Ben Chappell or incumbent Kellen Lewis will start Saturday's season opener against Western Kentucky.
Chappell took most of the snaps this spring while Lewis served a suspension and has continued to push the second-team All-Big Ten selection. Lewis has started the last 21 games for the Hoosiers.
"We're getting close," Lynch said of the quarterback decision. "We're not in a position to say right now that they'll both play. I've done that before and in all honesty, it didn't work the way we had hoped. When you guarantee a guy at that position that you will play in the third series, the second quarter or whatever, sometimes the flow of the game dictates that it's not in your best interests."