Pac-12: Jordan Webb

It all seemed so simple before Week 1 of last year. Six quarterback competitions, six resolutions before the first game of the year.

Taylor Kelly had won the gig at ASU. Jordan Webb set foot on campus and was almost instantly Colorado’s starter. Marcus Mariota outdistanced Bryan Bennett. Josh Nunes was Andrew Luck’s successor. Brett Hundley was an exciting unknown, and Jeff Tuel was the guy to lead WSU’s Air Raid.

Of course, simplicity doesn’t always last. Be it injury or performance, Webb and Nunes weren’t the starters at the end of the season and Tuel went back-and-forth with Connor Halliday. Mariota, Kelly and Hundley, however, went on to be three of the four most efficient quarterbacks in the league.

[+] EnlargeMax Wittek and Cody Kessler
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsMax Wittek (13) and Cody Kessler (6) will both see time at QB for the Trojans.
The moral of the story: Don’t fear the unknown. But don’t be too comfortable with it, either.

Which leads us to this year’s crop of quarterback competitions. It’s not as cut-and-dried as it was a year ago. At least two of them are ongoing and will probably stretch into the first weeks of the season.

The No. 24 Trojans open against Hawaii with Cody Kessler and Max Wittek still in the hunt for the right to replace Matt Barkley. Coach Lane Kiffin, however, said he has zero concerns that the competition hasn’t been resolved.

“I see it as completely opposite,” Kiffin said during Tuesday’s Pac-12 conference call. “I think they have both performed so well. We feel great about both of them running our offense. I see it as a positive. I think they've really worked on their weaknesses … that way we don’t have to call the game any different based on who is in. We can do all of our stuff.”

Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez hasn’t picked his guy yet, either. Though he did say he has seen some recent progress from B.J. Denker, Javelle Allen and Jesse Scroggins. A week ago, it was thought that as many as four or five guys could still be in the mix.

“I’d be more concerned if none of them made progress,” Rodriguez said. “In the last week and a half, they have all made some pretty good progress. B.J. Denker and Javelle Allen, the guys that have been in the program, have made pretty good progress. And Jesse Scroggins has gotten better as well. I feel good about that. There’s no question there is always more concern when you don’t have experience there. B.J. has been in the system for a year and Javelle has been in the system for a year. We feel pretty confident they can run the whole entire offense and with Jesse it’s just a matter of time.”

And time is on Arizona’s side. The Wildcats don’t exactly have a pressing first month of the season. They host Northern Arizona this weekend, followed by a trip to UNLV before hosting UTSA on Sept. 14. Then it’s a bye week before opening league play at Washington.

One report last week had Oregon State playing the quarterback shuffle heading into Week 1. But Mike Riley put that to rest yesterday when he named Sean Mannion his starter.

“I had told some stories in the past of experience with two quarterbacks playing, but never intended to start a rotation situation here at all,” Riley said. “We intended to name a starter and then have kind of left it up in the air … Sean is the starter and we’ll go into the game like that.”

Connor Wood won the job at Colorado -- ending a QB competition that started with six but dwindled after injuries and transfers.

"He's big, he's athletic, he's got a strong arm, and he's a talented athlete," said coach Mike MacIntyre, who noted he was also very pleased with the progress of freshman Sefo Liufau. "He really started capturing the essence of our offense and understanding where to go with the ball and where to go with our run game. He kept improving."

Cal coach Sonny Dykes took a different approach, naming Jared Goff his starter as soon as he could.

“Anytime you have a starting quarterback, I think everyone is more comfortable,” Dykes said. “The quarterback is more comfortable. The skill-position players can start to get on the same page. You develop a relationship with the center and quarterback and their ability to communicate with each other and the sense of timing that needs to exist there. I think what it does is settle everybody down.”

Colorado adds JC quarterback

May, 21, 2013
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While it feels like Connor Wood is going to be Colorado's starting quarterback in 2013, due to a good spring as well as attrition at the position, the Buffaloes haven't quit looking for help behind center.

The Buffs announced Monday the signing of Jordan Gehrke, a second-team all-region performer at Scottsdale Community College as a freshman last fall. He becomes the 21st recruit in the first class signed by coach Mike MacIntyre.

Gehrke, who won’t turn 19 until late July, will have four years to play three.

Last fall, Gehrke helped Scottsdale CC lead the nation in passing yards (355.2 per game), completing 174 of 366 passes for 2,388 yards and 22 touchdowns. He completed 51.8 percent of his passes and threw 14 interceptions. His top game came in the season finale, a 71-29 win over Phoenix College, when he was 29-of-43 for 384 yards and seven touchdowns with three interceptions.

“He’s very athletic, extremely accurate, can make all the throws and is a bright young man in regards to football and in the classroom,” MacIntyre said in a statement released by the school.

At Scottsdale’s Notre Dame Prep, Gehrke was a second-team all-state and a first-team All-II Section III performer as a senior, when he completed 134 of 250 passes for 2,012 yards and 23 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. He also rushed for 133 yards and scored twice.

The Buffs were looking to add depth at QB after Nick Hirschman opted to transfer to Akron, despite being in a dead heat with Wood after spring practices, according to MacIntyre, and a knee injury to Jordan Webb. Webb's situation is further complicated by an off-field fight in tandem with offensive lineman Alex Lewis, who is transferring to Nebraska.

Also in the mix at QB are redshirt freshman Shane Dillon and touted incoming freshman Sefo Liufau.
Happy Friday.
The name's Dangerously. Johnny Dangerously.
Did you know your last name is an adverb?
Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned for Sega.
What's a dazzling urbanite like you doing in a rustic setting like this?
COLORADO BUFFALOES

2012 record: 1-11
2012 conference record: 1-8 (Last in South Division)
Returning starters: Offense 9; Defense 7; Kick/punt 2

Top returners: WR Paul Richardson, WR Nelson Spruce, LB Derrick Webb, RB Christian Powell, C Gus Handler, DE Chidera Uzo-Diribe, CB Kenneth Crawley.

Key losses: TE Nick Kasa, OL David Bakhtiari, LB Jon Major, DB Ray Polk.

2012 statistical leaders (*returners)

Rushing: Christian Powell* (691)
Passing: Jordan Webb* (1,434, out indefinitely with knee injury)
Receiving: Nelson Spruce* (446)
Tackles: Derrick Webb* (88)
Sacks: Chidera Uzo-Diribe (7)
Interceptions: Jered Bell*, Jon Major, Marques Mosley* (1)

Spring answers

1. He's back: After missing all of 2012 with a torn ACL, wide receiver Paul Richardson is back and healthy. This is a huge boost for an offense that was lacking an explosive playmaker. In four Colorado scrimmages this spring, he had eight catches for 294 yards and three touchdowns. It's not the greatest barometer, but the fact he's on the field and running by defenders is a very positive sign.

2. Starting from scratch: Colorado has an entirely new coaching staff for the first time since 1979. So a good chunk of spring was spent reading name tags. It was also spent getting the team used to running a no-huddle offense. New coach Mike MacIntyre noted that the 15 practices were simply about introducing concepts -- which was accomplished. Translating those concepts into progress on the field will be a bigger task this fall.

3. Filling holes: Obviously, nothing is set in stone. A new coaching staff means a complete evaluation of every position. But there were some names that jumped out as candidates. D.D. Goodson made the move from tailback to wide receiver -- giving them a little more speed and depth at the position. January enrollee Addison Gillam jumped to the top of the depth chart at linebacker and cornerback John Walker made a big push in the secondary -- probably Colorado's deepest and most hotly contested position group.

Fall questions

1. QB questions: Last year there were three -- Jordan Webb, Nick Hirschman and Connor Wood. This year there are three -- Wood, Shane Dillon and incoming freshman Sefo Liufau. There are rumblings Webb might make it back by October -- but even then you have to wonder if he'll be close to 100 percent. Still, there are lots and lots of question about who will be running the new offense.

2. Sorting out the line: Just when it seems like the Buffs are starting to get a little continuity on the offensive line, right guard Daniel Munyer breaks his fibula during a fumble drill. It's not all completely up in the air -- and they do have a solid returning center in Gus Handler -- who should again be on the Rimington Trophy watch list. But there is still a lot of evaluation to be done.

3. Time to grow up: By now we all know about Colorado's youth in the secondary. A lot of freshmen played last year (1,476 snaps between a trio of freshmen defenders) and they learned the hard way what it's like to guard Pac-12 receivers. The maturation of this group is critical because improved secondary play will trickle down and take some of the pressure off of the front seven. This group has the athleticism and potential to be very good. The question is, will they?
So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Buffs say goodbye to Hirschman

April, 19, 2013
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The Colorado Buffaloes started spring ball on March 7 with six quarterbacks competing for one starting job. Since then, two of their most experienced have been taken off the depth chart.

Nick Hirschman announced via twitter Friday that he intends to transfer after he graduates this semester. Coupled with Jordan Webb's ACL tear that will keep him out of the 2013 season, the Buffs two most experienced quarterbacks are no longer an option for new head coach Mike MacIntyre.

MacIntyre said Hirschman and Connor Wood were tied atop the depth chart when the Buffs broke camp earlier this week and a source close to the program said that there had been no change in Hirschman's status before he met with MacIntyre mid-morning on Friday to tell the coach his plans.

Both had separated themselves from the pack this spring. In four main scrimmages, Hirschman was 32-of-50 for 433 yards with seven touchdowns and one interception. Wood was 36-of-56 for 589 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions.

However, it was ultimately that lack of separation between the two that led to Hirschman's decision.

“I felt at this time that it has been three years, a great three years, but with no decision made at the end of spring ball, it was personal choice that it was time for me to move on,” Hirschman said in a statement released by the school Friday afternoon. “I am hoping for the best for each and every teammate, and each and every coach. It’s been a wonderful experience here, I’m still really happy about my choice to come to Colorado and I made a lot of good friends here. I will never regret my decision coming out of high school to become a Buff and I’m hoping everything will work out for everyone.”

Last year the bulk of the snaps went to Webb, but Hirschman also made two starts and eight appearances. He completed 55 of 93 passes for 589 yards with two touchdowns and seven interceptions. The junior will have two years of eligibility left.

“Nick’s a phenomenal young man, a great team player, and I was looking forward to watching him mature this fall and to see how he would do in the battle for starting quarterback job," MacIntyre said. “We hate to lose him, but we do wish him the best.”

MacIntyre granted him a release from his scholarship to all schools other than any other Pac-12 Conference school or an opponent on CU’s 2013 or 2014 schedules.

With Hirschman's departure, Wood becomes the lone frontrunner. He appeared in six games last year and was 21-of-42 for 265 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions.

Chasing him will be redshirt freshman Shane Dillon -- a highly-touted recruit who was hit-and-miss during the spring as the Buffs adjust to the pistol offense. Another highly-ranked recruit, Sefo Liufau, is also to compete immediately when he arrives in the fall. ESPN.com ranked Liufau, from Tacoma, Wash., as the No. 19 dual-threat quarterback nationally.
I don't know what good it is to know so much and be smart as whips and all if it doesn't make you happy.
The Sunday truce is as old as the game itself, you can do some crazy stuff but never on no Sunday.

Weekend practice report

March, 25, 2013
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Catching you up on some of the late Friday and weekend scrimmages and practice notes.

Arizona Wildcats

The Wildcats spent the majority of Saturday's 90-minute practice simulating game-like scenarios. The session was scripted, so no stats were kept.

Head coach Rich Rodriguez said things weren't as crisp as he'd like. But they are much more efficient than they were during his first spring when he was still installing the offense.

“We were a little ragged at times," Rodriguez said. "We had some good moments and [quarterback] B.J. [Denker] executed well but defensively we didn't play as well as we had been in other practices. There was some good and some bad but I’ll have to watch the film and get a better evaluation. As much fundamental work as we need, sometimes you have to just let them play, which is what we did today.

“It’s not flowing as fast as I’d like but some of it is injury-related. It’s flowing better than it was this time last year but we don’t have Matt (Scott) this year. We got spoiled with Matt but B.J. played very well today as well as some of the other quarterbacks.”

California Golden Bears

The defense bested the offense in Cal's 2013 spring game, which was played in front of more than 5,800 fans at Memorial Stadium.

Zach Kline and Jared Goff took the most throws at quarterback. Kline completed 7 of 14 tosses for 124 yards and a touchdown while Goff went 7-of-15 for 66 yards with a touchdown. Austin Hinder was 5-of-9 for 87 yards with a touchdown. None of the three threw an interception.

Head coach Sonny Dykes characterized it as "surgery with a chainsaw," but overall was pleased with some of the performances.

"There were some good positives," Dykes said. "We made our quarterbacks live and I thought they responded pretty well to that. ... The good thing was they all got hit and survived and weren't fearful of it. That's what you want to see -- especially when you have quarterbacks that haven't taken any college snaps before. I liked what I saw from that bunch."

However, the competition will rage on because Dykes hasn't seen one of the three separate himself from the pack.

"I didn't really see anything today that would say that anybody stepped ahead," Dykes said. "But I saw positives from all of them. The good thing is we feel like we've got three guys that give us an opportunity to win and we'll see how it develops over the next several months."

Linebackers Jalen Jefferson and Hardy Nickerson led the way with six tackles each. Jefferson also notched a sack and Nickerson had a tackle for loss and half a sack.

The highlight was an appearance from former Bear and current Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, who scored on a 22-yard run (untouched, for obvious reasons).

"He wasn't bad," Dykes joked. "Heck, maybe we should try this guy out."

Colorado Buffaloes

With the Buffs breaking for spring break, head coach Mike MacIntyre and his staff were going to spend the weekend putting together a "pencil depth chart," writes Kyle Ringo.

Quarterback Jordan Webb reinjured his thumb last week, putting a wrinkle in MacIntyre's plan to hopefully have three quarterbacks emerge from spring who can carry the competition over into the fall.

"He wasn't able to have this scrimmage [Friday] or the other day's practice so it really hurt him two days so we have to look at and evaluate at that too because we have to give the young man a fair chance," MacIntyre said. "We'll discuss that hard ... hopefully when he comes back from spring break he'll be able to go again."

Though a depth chart might emerge this week, it will serve more as a framework for reps than an inflexible document.

"We'll pencil that in, but it can change in the middle of practice," MacIntyre said. "But we need to have a sequence to be able to do a little more repetitions."

Pac-12 practice, scrimmage roundup

March, 18, 2013
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Catching you up on some of the spring action from late Friday and over the weekend.

CALIFORNIA

The quarterback competition continued at Cal with the Bears holding another scrimmage Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

The team ran approximately 55 plays, scoring three touchdowns and a field goal in nine possessions. Zach Kline, Jared Goff and Austin Hinder all shared the work, with Kyle Boehm getting one series on offense.

Kline went 5 of 6 for 88 yards with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Darius Powe. Goff went 5 of 11 for 90 yards with a 36-yard touchdown to Bryce Treggs. Hinder was 4 of 8 for 54 yards and a rushing touchdown. But coach Sonny Dykes said he hasn't seen any separation yet.

“I don’t think so, not based on what I saw," Dykes said. "We’ll doublecheck our work, but it looked like to me they all did some good things, kind of more of the same. They just keep working harder and getting more comfortable. It seems like every day they’re starting to get a little bit of a better sense of timing and more comfortable with their receivers.”

Treggs, who caught three balls for 39 yards, also weighed in on the competition.

“I see it’s pretty even right now," he said. "All of them are doing a great job. One hasn’t really emerged yet. All of them are doing great, and right now I’m comfortable with any of them if they were to be named the starter.”

COLORADO

The Buffs held their first full scrimmage under new coach Mike MacIntyre on Friday afternoon, running 116 plays (91 from scrimmage, 25 special teams) in about 80 minutes.

Jordan Webb (5 of 11, 98 yards) and Nick Hirschman (4 of 7, 61 yards) had the two lone touchdown passes with Josh Ford (4 carries, 42 yards) scoring the lone touchdown on the ground. Shane Dillon, who worked four drives -- the most of any of the quarterbacks -- was 4 of 9 for 56 yards with an interception.

"Our quarterbacks made some plays,” MacIntyre said. “We have a very quarterback friendly offense. We had a couple of picks, but overall, we made a lot of plays. They played well. [Receivers] D.D. [Goodson] and Gerald [Thomas] made some big plays. Gerald did a good job, he has a lot of talent, he just has to do it every day.”

Colorado will be back at it Tuesday and Thursday before another scrimmage Friday afternoon heading into spring break.

USC

You may have already heard the news that running back Silas Redd will miss the rest of spring practice with a torn meniscus that will require surgery this week. The good news is he's expected to be back for spring ball.

At Saturday's scrimmage, the defensive front impressed Lane Kiffin the most, who told Garry Paskwietz he "couldn't imagine being more pleased" with the progress of the unit as they transition to an odd front.
“I really thought the front seven on the first-unit defense played well,” USC coach Lane Kiffin said. “Hayes Pullard played great at linebacker while George Uko and Leonard Williams were dominant up front. The defense is really picking things up with the new scheme. I can’t imagine being more pleased.”

Pullard tallied six tackles, one for a loss, and Kenny Bigelow had a pair of sacks.

The quarterback competition continues -- likely without end this spring. And with Max Wittek sidelined with a knee injury, Cody Kessler and Max Browne have been getting in all of the work. Kessler went 13 of 19 for 161 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown pass to Nelson Agholor. Browne went 6 of 9 for 69 yards with a 52-yard touchdown to Darreus Rogers.

Washington

Per the all-knowing Bob Condotta, Cyler Miles and Troy Williams got the bulk of the backup quarterback work behind Keith Price -- who Condotta characterizes as "clearly the No. 1 guy." So those of you hoping for a quarterback controversy, you're out of luck.

Here's what Steve Sarkisian said about the backups:
“I thought Troy Williams had two really good practices here the last two practices for a true freshman from day one and then working his way up to practices five and six, I thought he was impressive. I thought Cyler has flashed at some times. But for all of them, like any young quarterback, is finding the consistency and doing things right consistently at a high level, and that’s where those guys get themselves in trouble so that’s what we will continue to work on."

Poll: Interesting QB competitions

February, 28, 2013
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Last week Ted and I gave you our thoughts on the spring quarterback competitions that we thought were the most interesting. I went with the Oregon State competition of Cody Vaz and Sean Mannion. Ted opted for the competition at Arizona.

SportsNation

Which Pac-12 quarterback competition is the most interesting?

  •  
    12%
  •  
    17%
  •  
    5%
  •  
    41%
  •  
    25%

Discuss (Total votes: 3,127)

Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon State and USC seem to have the most heated competitions -- though I don't think anyone would be shocked if things open up at Washington State or Keith Price feels some pressure at Washington. But for your Thursday poll question, we'll go with those first five. Which Pac-12 quarterback competition is the most interesting? (Cue up the "I voted Oregon" jokes).

Your options:

Arizona: The Wildcats have to replace Matt Scott -- a second-team all-conference performer who was sixth nationally in total yards. B.J. Denker got some work last year, and Jesse Scroggins, Javelle Allen and incoming freshman Anu Solomon are all in the mix.

California: Five men enter -- Allan Bridgford, Zach Kline, Austin Hinder, Kyle Boehm and Jared Goff. Which one wins over new head coach Sonny Dykes and takes over the up-tempo offense remains to be seen.

Colorado: Jordan Webb, Connor Wood and Nick Hirschman -- who all saw playing time last year -- are back. But touted prospect Shane Dillon or highly-recruited Sefo Liufau, who arrives in the fall, could be the best options to run Colorado's new pistol offense.

Oregon State: Both Mannion and Vaz have displayed the tools and talents to win big games. Both also have had their share of tough outings. This is the only competition that features two veterans (both with winning records as starters last year, mind you) squaring off.

USC: Anytime the Trojans have a quarterback competition, it's going to be national news. And the fact that they are replacing Matt Barkley - - the league's all-time leader in touchdown passes -- makes it bigger news. Max Wittek got some work last year, but Cody Kessler and spring enrollee Max Browne won't be far behind.

Top performances of 2012: Jordan Webb

February, 28, 2013
2/28/13
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We're looking at some of the top individual performances in the Pac-12 in 2012.

Up next: A diamond in the trash heap

Who and against whom: Jordan Webb led a massive -- and utterly shocking -- fourth-quarter comeback at Washington State, as the Buffaloes won 35-34, their lone victory of 2012.

The numbers: Webb completed 29 of 42 passes for 345 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for two scores.

A closer look: Didn't see this one coming, did you? But it's legit. And so anomalous that it's one of the most fascinating performances of the season. Colorado was 0-3 with a bullet when it arrived in Pullman. It had lost to in-state rival Colorado State, a bad Mountain West team. It had lost to Sacramento State, a mediocre FCS team. It had been bludgeoned 69-14 in a white flag effort at Fresno State. Washington State was 2-1 and seemingly on the uptick. Further, the Cougars led 31-14 with just over seven minutes left. There was no reason to suspect the Buffs would even try for an impossible comeback. But then Webb hit Nick Kasa for a 70-yard touchdown, and the comeback was on, with Colorado scoring three TDs in the final seven minutes. The game winner? It was Webb's 4-yard, fourth-down quarterback draw -- up the middle! -- in the waning moments. There were very few highlights for the Buffs in 2012, and even fewer for Webb, a Kansas transfer. But let's just call this their one shining moment. Coug fans might feel differently, of course.

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