Tuesday, August 9, 2011
Quarterback battles in the Big Ten
By Brian Bennett
For nearly half the teams in the Big Ten, one of the biggest questions looming over fall practice is the quarterback situation. Several schools have legitimate and seemingly wide-open battles for the most important position on the field. Here's a look at the battles to watch leading up to the opening kickoff:
Indiana: Sophomores Dusty Kiel and Edward Wright-Baker will try to impress new coach Kevin Wilson, whose specialty is developing top-flight signal callers. Wilson -- who didn't name Sam Bradford his starter at Oklahoma until 10 days before the first game -- has said he expects the battle to continue on well into camp. One question: With Kiel's younger brother -- top quarterback prospect Gunner Kiel -- now committed to the Hoosiers, will Wilson feel obligated to play Dusty so that commitment holds? Kiel is favored to win the job anyway.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes knew they were going to have to replace Terrelle Pryor for the first five games. Then Pryor quit the team, making the quarterback battle even more important this fall camp. Four players -- senior Joe Bauserman, sophomore Kenny Guiton, redshirt freshman Taylor Graham and true freshman Braxton Miller -- all saw reps this spring. The battle appears to be between Bauserman, Pryor's former backup and a 25-year-old former minor league baseball player, and the electric Miller. The youngster will likely have to show much maturity and improvement this month to keep Ohio State from going with the safer veteran to start the year.
Penn State: No subject has dominated the conversation around the Nittany Lions quite like the quarterback situation. Rob Bolden started the 2010 season as a freshman, but former walk-on Matt McGloin ended the season after Bolden was hurt and ineffective. McGloin then threw five interceptions in the Outback Bowl, and Bolden openly pondered leaving the team after spring, only heightening the drama. Bolden is more gifted athletically but needs to mature. Will he even stick around if McGloin wins the job in fall camp? And is McGloin good enough to lead Penn State back to the top of the Big Ten?
Purdue: Head coach Danny Hope had planned to use Rob Henry as a change of pace to starter Robert Marve last season, but Marve got hurt early on and Henry was thrust into the full-time starter's role. Henry led the team in rushing but had only eight touchdowns vs. seven interceptions while completing just 53.1 percent of his throws. He's more of a runner while Marve, the former Miami transfer, is more of a pocket passer. Hope said at Big Ten media days that he still would like to find a way to use both quarterbacks at times.
Wisconsin: This might be a quarterback battle in name only, but coach Bret Bielema insists that nothing has been promised to NC State transfer Russell Wilson. Still, it's hard to believe that Wilson will sit on the bench after starring in the ACC for three seasons. Sophomore Jon Budmayr had won the starting job out of the spring and will be given every chance this fall to compete with Wilson. Given his lack of game experience, Budmayr is starting the race from behind. But at least he knows the system and his teammates far better than Wilson will this August.