Monday, June 25, 2012
Preseason position reviews: Quarterback
By Ted Miller
It's time to start our preseason position reviews. And there was much rejoicing.
Here's how we do this: We provide three evaluative categories: "Great shape," "Good shape" and "We'll see."
Hint: You'd prefer your team to be in "Great shape."
"We'll see" doesn't mean you're going to stink at said position. It means just what it says -- we'll see because there's no way at present to know. California and Utah were both "We'll see" at running back in 2011, and both produced 1,000-yard rushers.
USC: Matt Barkley is the best returning QB in the nation and the leading Heisman Trophy candidate. The only concern might be that none of his backups have game experience.
Huskies quarterback Keith Price passed for 3,063 yards and 33 TDs last season.
Washington: Keith Price ranked second in the Pac-12 in passing efficiency in 2011, completing 67 percent of his throws with 33 TDs and just 11 interceptions. No experience behind him, though.
Washington State: For one, if Mike Leach is your coach, you can count on good quarterback play. But having the talent and experience of Jeff Tuel is big. Further, backup Connor Halliday shined when he played last year.
Oregon State: Perhaps this is a leap of faith for Sean Mannion, but there are three reasons for Beavers fans not to worry about quarterback: 1) Second-year starters tend to do much better under Mike Riley; 2) Mannion has a good crew of receivers; and 3) Mannion, who passed for 3,328 yards last year, has plenty of talent.
Utah: It's tempting to switch Oregon State and the Utes here. If Utah gets 12 games from Jordan Wynn, who's suffered shoulder injuries the past two years, he's going to be a better-than-average -- perhaps even legitimately good -- quarterback. The depth features experience (Jon Hays) and potential (Travis Wilson).
California: If Zach Maynard plays like he did over the final four games of the regular season, then the Bears are in great shape at quarterback -- at least if they can find some guys to complement Keenan Allen at receiver and a center who can deliver a shotgun snap. Allan Bridgford looked good this spring, and true freshman Zach Kline has franchise potential.
Arizona: Matt Scott redshirted last year but he played well coming off the bench for Nick Foles in 2010. He seems like a perfect dual-threat quarterback for new coach Rich Rodriguez's offense. Only issue is the depth behind him is inexperienced and suspect.
Oregon: This is a case of Chip Kelly earning the benefit of the doubt. We saw Bryan Bennett play and play well last year when Darron Thomas was hurt. So if Marcus Mariota is good enough to eclipse him, then he must be pretty darn good.
UCLA: Bruins have plenty of experience with Richard Brehaut and Kevin Prince, but neither has played well consistently. They also have an intriguing talent in Brett Hundley. We don't know who will win the job, but it seems there's a strong possibility for at least adequate play here -- and perhaps more if offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone works the same magic he did at Arizona State.
Stanford: My general feeling is Stanford will be fine here with Brett Nottingham or Josh Nunes, but Kevin is such a dark cloud of doom -- a maelstrom, really -- that the Cardinal get relegated to this category. I may be exaggerating Kevin's negativity a bit.