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QB battles carry into the fall

Friday, May 04, 2012

The spring did not provide for enough separation, so we will have to wait until August to find out how some quarterback battles transpire. Here are some of the teams that have to take additional time to sort out who will command the huddle for the season opener.

Arizona State
Coach Todd Graham has three quarterbacks that have combined for zero career starts and he wants to see one emerge as a leader. Michael Eubank, who will be a redshirt freshman, has yet to throw a college pass, but he is a nice package of size and strength (6-5, 235) with a strong arm and good mobility. Sophomore Mike Bercovici and Taylor Lewis both got into a couple of games last season. The former has strongest arm of the trio while the latter was very steady in running the offense during spring drills.

If Clint Moseley is the starter, it is by a hair. Kiehl Frazier has been coming on and his confidence soared as he received plenty of first-team reps in the spring while Moseley was slowed by a bad shoulder. Frazier is a dual-threat QB, who worked in the Wildcat as a freshman last season and threw all of 12 passes. It has been coach Gene Chizik’s desire to expand his role in more conventional packages. Mission accomplished. As for Moseley, who will be a junior, he was pressed into service for the last few games of the 2011 regular season following an injury to Barrett Trotter. He threw for 800 yards and 5/3. Chizik and new OC Scot Loeffler are in no rush to name a starter, so this situation will play out through August.

During the spring game Gators fans got to see what coach Will Muschamp had been saying all along: there is no separation between Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett. Both exhibited command of the offense, including sound decision making. The sophomores have certainly grown up a lot since being thrown into fire last season while then-starter John Brantley was hurt. Still, Muschamp wants to see more in fall practice before anointing a starter. He is, however, prepared to use both. After all, his job is to win football games.

Notre Dame
Competition between four QBs took an unexpected turn on Thursday when Tommy Rees was charged with four misdemeanors. He had a felony charge reduced otherwise he could have faced expulsion from the school, which will still certainly take some action. Rees is 12-4 as a starter with 32 career touchdown passes and emerged from the spring game as a solid choice – but by no means guaranteed – as retaining his starting role. The others who will continue to battle for the job in preseason practice are dual-threat Andrew Hendrix, Everett Golson and prized recruit Gunner Kiel. Hendrix appeared in five games (411 total yards) last season and Golson was a freshman on the scout team.

After Darron Thomas surprisingly declared for the NFL draft – and to no surprise went undrafted – Bryan Bennett was assumed to have inherited the top job based on his fine work as Thomas’ backup last season. However, Marcus Mariota capped a nice spring with an outstanding Green and White contest. Meanwhile,  Bennett did not fare well in said game. Coach Chip Kelly, at least publicly, is not putting much stock into what transpired during the end-of-spring affair. However, it is safe to say Mariota, who will be a redshirt freshman, turned heads and will continue to battle Bennett in the preseason. As a freshman in 2011, Bennett saw action in seven games (one start) and threw for 369 yards and 6 TDs and ran for 200 yards.

Penn State
With three quarterbacks to consider at the start of spring practice, first-year coach Bill O’Brien expressed his desire to whittle down the competition to two for fall practice. The odd man out may be the player that was the opening-game starter the past two seasons: Rob Bolden. Matt McGloin, who took over the No. 1 role last season, and Paul Jones appeared to emerge from the spring game with the upper hand. McGloin will be a senior and Jones, who was academically ineligible last year and has yet to attempt a pass as a Nittany Lion, will be a redshirt sophomore. Bolden will be a junior.

It is quite a task to take over for – not replace, mind you – the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft. While Andrew Luck adjusts to life with the Indianapolis Colts, coach David Shaw will choose between Brett Nottingham and Josh Nunes to decide the new starting quarterback of the Cardinal. The good news is both have performed pretty well. While not bad news per se, the fact of the matter is the two have combined for 10 career pass attempts. While Nottingham was Luck’s primary backup last season, Nunes has been giving him a run for his money and the battle will continue in August.

David Ash thinks he has the edge over Case McCoy. We’ll likely know for sure by late August. Ash certainly had a better spring game than McCoy, which was a was a good way for the sophomore-to-be to conclude the spring after completing last season by taking every snap in a Holiday Bowl victory over Cal. While coach Mack Brown would not say it, that game appeared to give Ash the edge in being the No. 1 QB heading into 2012. Brown did not saying anything at the conclusion of the spring either, but Ash’s efforts since late last season may have spoken volumes about who is No. 1 in Austin.

Washington State
New coach Mike Leach wants to wait until the fall to see how recuperating Conner Halliday fares before making a decision. Jeff Tuel is the most experienced quarterback having been the starter in 2010, but the senior-to-be he is coming off an injury-ravaged 2011. Tuel has thrown for 3,845 yards and 25 touchdowns in his Cougars career. Halliday, who will be a third-year sophomore, suffered a lacerated liver in his lone start last season and was limited in the spring. He got the most out of his 103 attempts last season: 960 yards and 9 TDs.


Boise State: It looks like the job is Joe Southwick’s to lose, which he could if freshman Nick Patti continues to impress in August. Southwick was Kellen Moore’s primary backup the last two years.

Virginia: If Alabama transfer Phillip Sims is declared eligible to play in 2012, he and Michael Rocco will compete for the top job. If not, Rocco will maintain the leading role.

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