Thursday, August 4, 2011
Take Two: Most intriguing QB battles
By Brian Bennett and Adam Rittenberg
Big Ten bloggers Adam Rittenberg and Brian Bennett will occasionally give their takes on a burning question facing the league. We'll both have strong opinions, but not necessarily the same view. We'll let you decide which blogger is right.
Today's Take Two topic is this: Which preseason quarterback battle is the most intriguing?
Take 1: Brian Bennett
Fall practice, mercifully, opens this week in the Big Ten. Several teams, including Indiana, Purdue, Ohio State and Penn State, have open quarterback battles heading into camp. You can even throw Wisconsin in there if you believe Bret Bielema's assertion that Russell Wilson has to compete for the starting job. We'll be carefully following them all. But the skirmish in Columbus intrigues me the most. There are technically four candidates, but most people believe the competition will come down to Joe Bauserman and Braxton Miller. The contrast between the two could hardly be more striking, as Bauserman is steady but unspectacular 25-year-old former minor league baseball player who has experience as a backup, while Miller is a true freshman with exciting and unpredictable athleticism.
Despite all their off-the-field problems, the Buckeyes are still very much a legitimate threat to win the league title this season, but they'll need someone to take over for Terrelle Pryor and lead that offense down the field. Will Luke Fickell go with the known quantity in Bauserman, who's unlikely to hurt the team with big mistakes? Or will he be tempted to roll the dice with the youngster Miller, who showed in the spring game that he can make plays when nothing is there? Can't wait to find out.
Take 2: Adam Rittenberg
Ah, August. A great month for quarterback connoisseurs. Ohio State's competition undoubtedly will get the most attention, and rightfully so. All four candidates are unproven in college games, and the prospect of Miller potentially succeeding Terrelle Pryor as the starter is truly fascinating. While I'll have an eye on Columbus, I'm particularly interested in what takes place in Happy Valley.
Penn State's quarterback competition has some unique elements. You've got two players with starting experience in Rob Bolden and Matt McGloin, both of whom made promising strides this spring. Bolden wanted his release from the program in January and, despite reaffirming his commitment to Penn State in July, could reopen the door if things don't go his way in practice. Most of the fans want Bolden to win the job, especially after McGloin's struggles in the Outback Bowl. But McGloin isn't the type to back down from a challenge. You also have Kevin Newsome, who remains a quarterback despite buzz that he'll switch positions. Penn State needs Newsome as an option -- and Bolden to remain with the team -- as Paul Jones is academically ineligible. While I don't expect the race to drag on as long as last season's competition, it will be interesting to see who emerges as Penn State's No. 1 -- and how the other player deals with the disappointment.