Monday, April 16, 2012
Checking in on Pac-12 QB competitions
By Ted Miller
The Pac-12 is the conference of quarterbacks. And that's making the Pac-12 less newsy this spring because there isn't much quarterback news. And apparently won't be even when the last whistle sends us into the true offseason.
It appears few coaches are eager not only to announce a starter but also to create a depth chart behind a returning starter.
With Arizona, Colorado, Stanford and USC already done and Arizona State, California, Utah and Washington State finishing up this weekend, here's a look at where things stand -- which is generally up in the air.
Arizona: Matt Scott is the starter. The battle for the backup job is wide-open, with a junior college transfer and two freshmen coming in and part-time receiver Richard Morrison also in the mix.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils quarterback competition still seems be a three-man race between Mike Bercovici, Michael Eubank and Taylor Kelly, though it's clear coaches would like to reduce things to a two-man race ASAP. There has long been a strong sentiment for the physically impressive Eubank, but most of that is speculative. Still, I'd guess Eubank will be in any mix of a final two. Too much dual-threat upside to ignore.
California: Zach Maynard is the starter. Allan Bridgford is No. 2. It doesn't appear that touted true freshman Zach Kline will do any better than win the No. 3 job.
Colorado: Buffalo fans were goosed about Texas transfer Connor Wood before spring. Then when his only real competition, Nick Hirschman, re-injured his foot, it seemed like spring would become a coronation. That didn't happen. Doesn't mean Wood won't win the job. Only that the competition will go into the fall, and there could be a wildcard (or two). Such as a freshman or perhaps Jordan Webb, a potential transfer from Kansas.
Oregon: Closed practices have made the Pac-12's most interesting quarterback competition a footnote. Bryan Bennett or Marcus Mariota? No one knows, and won't know until Chip Kelly decides to announce a decision.
Oregon State: Sean Mannion is the starter. Capable Cody Vaz is the backup. I've got $1 that says nothing changes, barring injury.
Stanford: To me, there is more movement here than some suspect. I saw Brett Nottingham, the 2011 backup, as the favorite to replace Andrew Luck heading into the spring. It seems Josh Nunes has made up ground. Is it meaningful he played the spring game entirely with the first-team? How can it not be?
UCLA: A looong way to go here. I felt a solid lean for newblood -- redshirt freshman Brett Hundley -- before new coach Jim Mora's first spring began. But you can't discount Kevin Prince and Richard Brehaut's vastly superior experience. Brehaut decided not to miss spring due to baseball, as he previously planned, which would have eliminated him from the competition. Further, coordinator Noel Mazzone isn't looking for a run-first quarterback. He wants a guy who can dish it around accurately.
USC: Spring was all about finding a backup for Matt Barkley, and the competition wasn't resolved. Max Wittek is an intriguing talent. Cody Kessler is the swashbuckler. Jesse Scroggins is the guy who may have blown his chance by forgetting to do his classwork.
Utah: Jordan Wynn, the clear starter, is having a good spring. It appears true freshman Travis Wilson has asserted himself in the backup competition.
Washington: The real battle to be Keith Price's backup won't start until the fall when touted incoming freshmen Cyler Miles and Jeff Lindquist arrive, but Derrick Brown has been solid this spring.
Washington State: Not unlike the man himself, I believe this is Jeff Tuel's job to lose. But it's still too early to count out sophomore Connor Halliday, who's missed spring practices with a lacerated liver.