Thursday, February 18, 2010
A look at QB experience in the Big East
By Brian Bennett
It's probably no small coincidence that the top three teams in the Big East in 2009 -- Cincinnati, West Virginia and Pittsburgh -- all had fifth-year senior quarterbacks at the helm.
Tom Savage is the most experienced quarterback in the Big East, despite having just 11 career starts.
There's little substitute for experience under center. Going into 2010, the Big East features a lot of teams with young, but not necessarily inexperienced, signal-callers. And age can sometimes be deceiving; remember that going into 2009, West Virginia's Jarrett Brown had only two career starts, while Cincinnati's Tony Pike had played less than a full season in his career.
Here's a look at how the league quarterback situations stand heading into next season, from most to least experienced presumed starters:
1. Tom Savage, Rutgers. Career starts: 11. Yes, it's hard to believe, but a guy who was a true freshman in 2009 enters the season as the most experienced quarterback in the league, at least in terms of starts. Savage has a solid year, especially considering his youth, and is a strong candidate to make The Leap this year.
2. B.J. Daniels, South Florida. Career starts: 10. Another freshman last year (though he was a redshirt frosh) who took over early and gained lots of valuable experience. Daniels still has a lot to learn, especially with a new coaching staff, and his development may be slowed in the spring because of his shoulder injury.
3. Zach Frazer, Connecticut. Career starts: 9. Frazer might actually be considered the graybeard of the Big East quarterbacks, since he's a senior who transferred from Notre Dame, started a couple of games in 2008 and spent the bulk of last season as the main guy. He'll have to fend off Cody Endres in the spring and needs to improve his accuracy while limiting his turnovers. But he played well down the stretch and could be in store for a big campaign.
4. Adam Froman, Louisville. Career starts: 7. Froman is a senior after coming over last year from junior college, but who knows if he'll win or keep the job for the Cardinals this season. Louisville also has Justin Burke and Will Stein, who combined to start five games in '09.
5. Zach Collaros, Cincinnati. Career starts: 4.Collaros started less than half the season as a sophomore but was incredibly impressive during that stint, completing 75 percent of his passes, throwing 10 touchdowns against only two interceptions and running for 344 yards and four scores. He also performed at that level while leading an undefeated team. The concerns would be that he's entering a new system and that many of his stats came against weak passing defenses (Syracuse, UConn, Louisville). Still, Butch Jones runs a very quarterback-friendly offense, and Collaros looks like a bona fide star.
T-6. Ryan Nassib, Syracuse. Career starts: 0. Nassib was named the starter in the spring but took a backseat to Greg Paulus in 2009. Yet he appeared in 10 games and was virtually splitting time with Paulus late in the year. Don't put it past Doug Marrone to make some unconventional choices, though, as he showed last year with Paulus.
T-6. Geno Smith, West Virginia. Career starts: 0. Smith hasn't started, but he played basically the entire game for an injured Jarrett Brown in the win over Marshall and finished the second half in the Gator Bowl. He looked extremely poised as a true freshman and should be very good if he can stay healthy. There's no experienced depth behind him.
T-6. Tino Sunseri, Pittsburgh. Career starts: 0. I'm working under the assumption that Sunseri beats out Pat Bostick, who has nine career starts under his belt. Sunseri hasn't played much but has been impressive in practice. Given the work offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr. did with Bill Stull last year and the fact that he has a good O-line, Dion Lewis and Jonathan Baldwin to work with, Sunseri figures to be just fine.
So the question I pose to you is this: How confident do you feel in your team's quarterback situation, and how would you rate these presumed starters going into 2010?