- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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There were six quarterback competitions in the Pac-12 this year. Some came about by the departure of some outstanding quarterbacks. Others just needed new life infused into the offense.
Today we're going to take a look at each of the quarterbacks who won their job.
Five of the six have been finalized -- while one "officially" is on-going. And that's Washington State.
So we start in reverse alphabetical order with the Cougars and the player we believe will be the starting quarterback Thursday night for Washington State, Jeff Tuel. Head coach Mike Leach said on Saturday that if the game were played that day, Tuel would be his starter. That's good enough for us to venture out on a limb and project Tuel.
Jeff Tuel, Washington State
2011 stats: 29-of-45, 276 yards, 1 touchdown, 0 interceptions.
Career stats: 319-of-532, 3,845 yards, 25 touchdowns, 17 interceptions.
Pros: Physically, Tuel is the kind of quarterback Leach likes. At 6-3, 219 pounds, he's a big, physical player who is also athletic and can keep plays alive with his feet. As they say, he's got a "live" arm, which should serve him well in Leach's Air Raid offense. Expect some lofty numbers as well with a talented receiving corps around him and an offensive line that's built to pass-block.
Cons: He only appeared in three games last year with assorted injuries, including a broken collarbone, so there might be some rust to kick off. His absence gave rise to redshirt freshman Connor Halliday, who wowed fans with a four-touchdown, 494-yard game against ASU and a gutty, liver-lacerating performance against Utah. There might be some concern that Tuel will constantly be looking over his shoulder.
How he won the job: The experience factor was probably a big consideration. Plus Halliday, still recovering from the aforementioned lacerated liver, missed a good portion of spring ball, allowing Tuel to work almost exclusively with the first team offense. Also, for about the last two weeks, Tuel has been working with the first-team, which gives us another reason to feel OK about projecting him.
Coach speak: "[Tuel's] doing a really good job. He does a good job leading the team and he's been real consistent in practice," said Leach. "They are both very similar in how they play."
Backup plan: Talk to any team in the conference and they'd feel pretty good about having Halliday as their backup. He's got a bit of game experience and we know he's tough. He might not be the present, but he certainly has a bright future.