Thursday, February 17, 2011
Nation's top-10 QB battles? Pac-12 has four
By ESPN.com staff
Bruce Feldman ranked the top-10 quarterback competitions in the country, and four involve Pac-12 teams: No. 4 UCLA, No. 7 Washington, No. 9 Arizona State and No. 10 California.
He also predicts whom he believes will win the job.
Here are some of his thoughts. And, of course, mine.
UCLA Bruins -- Kevin Prince vs. Richard Brehaut vs. Brett Hundley
Feldman: The offense has been Neuheisel's biggest issue, and if he can't get the passing game cranked up, he's probably not going to keep his job past 2011... The hope of most Bruins fans is that Hundley, the No. 5 QB in the 2011 class, will be mature enough to take this job. He is the most dangerous runner of the trio and might have the strongest arm. This is a program that desperately needs a spark, and perhaps Hundley has, as they say, "It." Folks around Westwood have already started calling him 'the savior.'
Feldman's prediction: Hundley.
My take: I promise I am not related to Kevin Prince, nor am I an investor in Kevin Prince. I may be the last one holding this position, but I think Prince is a pretty good QB, if healthy. That's a big "if," though. If I were a betting man, I'd take Hundley, too, but just don't count Prince out.
Washington Huskies -- Keith Price vs. Nick Montana
Feldman: Sophomore Price, Locker's understudy this past fall, has the experience edge, having played in eight games in 2010. His athleticism also will help his cause. His challenger is redshirt freshman Montana... is said to be very poised, and he throws well on the run despite a decent but not powerful arm, which sounds a lot like his dad. Montana could be the type of guy who doesn't wow anyone in practice but would be very tough to unseat if he won the job.
Feldman's prediction: Price.
My take: I'd pick Price, too, but just based on experience. Guessing the competition will continue well into the fall, though.
Arizona State Sun Devils -- Steven Threet vs. Brock Osweiler vs. Michael Bercovici
Feldman: It remains to be seen how much action Threet will see during the spring. Six-foot-8 Osweiler, a former Gonzaga hoops recruit, did a lot of good things when he was in the lineup last year. In his two starts at the end of the regular season, both wins, he threw for 647 yards, five touchdowns and zero picks, also running for 91 yards. His ability to be consistent is the real question with Osweiler.
Feldman's prediction: Osweiler.
My take: Ditto. The most important thing I saw from Osweiler was the proverbial "tale of two halves" he produced at Arizona. He was awful in the first half, which made his strong play in the second half even more impressive. You can't underestimate the value resiliency in QBs, particularly in a rivalry game on the road.
California Golden Bears -- Brock Mansion vs. Allan Bridgford vs. Austin Hinder vs. Zach Maynard vs. Beau Sweeney
Feldman: In this quintet, there are guys with strong arms, great size, intelligence and athleticism, but is there one who is able to display several of those attributes on the field all at once? At the very least, the bloodlines here are noteworthy: Hinder's grandfather is former NFL coach Jim Hanifan; Sweeney's granddad is former Fresno State coach Jim Sweeney; and Maynard's half-brother is budding Cal wide receiver standout Keenan Allen. Maynard, the most athletic of the group, is also the most intriguing. He started 12 games at Buffalo, throwing for almost 2,700 yards with 18 TDs and 15 INTs. He is a playmaker, but the question will be whether he can avoid big mistakes and be a guy Tedford can count on
Feldman's prediction: Maynard.
My take: If I were going to be honest, I'd repeat what Tedford is saying publicly and told me on signing day in a casual telephone conversation: "I have no idea." If Tedford doesn't, then I certainly don't. Feldman is correct that many are intrigued by Maynard's experience and athleticism, but he doesn't fit in with the typical profile of a Tedford QB -- read: pro-style pocket passer.
I'm going off the grid here and tapping Bridgford. Why? Why not! If I'm right, I will hound Feldman about it. If I'm wrong, Feldman probably will be too busy writing a book to remember.