UA not only league team to have QB conundrum

2013-08-03T00:00:00Z UA not only league team to have QB conundrumZack Rosenblatt Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
August 03, 2013 12:00 am  • 

It's time for a Pac-12 quarterback roll call.

Brett Nottingham.

Mike Bercovici.

Richard Brehaut.

Bryan Bennett.

Ring any bells?

Those were almost the starters under center at Stanford, ASU, UCLA and Oregon, respectively, at this time last year, a few of them even a presumptive favorite.

Then, two redshirt freshmen (Brett Hundley at UCLA and Marcus Mariota at Oregon) and an unheralded sophomore (Taylor Kelly at ASU) swooped in and won those quarterback competitions. Kevin Hogan lost the job initially to Josh Nunes at Stanford, only to steal it back later in the season.

Coincidentally, or not, Stanford and Oregon finished at the top of the Pac-12 North, and UCLA and ASU in the Pac-12 South.

One year later, those four are at the head of the pack at the position in the Pac-12 - with Mariota even getting some preseason love for the Heisman.

While those four teams, plus Washington with Keith Price and Utah with Travis Wilson, know their starters already, the rest of the conference is a bit jumbled at the position.

Arizona was steady last year with Matt Scott, an All-Pac-12 second-teamer. But, he's gone, and coach Rich Rodriguez will try to replace him with B.J. Denker, Jesse Scroggins and/or Anu Solomon.

The Wildcats, though, won't be the only team with a quarterback battle to watch in fall camp.

Here's a look at the quarterback battles brewing around the Pac-12 that you should keep an eye on in fall camp.

USC

  • Competition: Max Wittek, sophomore; Max Browne, freshman; Cody Kessler, sophomore
  • Front-runner: Wittek
  • Last year: Matt Barkley (11 starts), Wittek (2 starts)
  • First practice: Today
  • The lowdown: Barkley started the season as a Heisman favorite, but finished it injured in a disappointing 7-6 year for USC. Still, Barkley finished with 3,273 yards and 36 touchdowns - which ain't bad, and coach Lane Kiffin's future at USC hinges on replacing him. Wittek threw for 388 yards, 3 touchdowns and 5 interceptions in 2 losses. Still, Wittek has a big arm, and a talented supporting cast. If not him, Kiffin will turn to the untested - but highly touted - sophomore Cody Kessler or five-star freshman Max Browne.
  • He said it: "All three guys will have a shot. I think all three guys are going to be really good quarterbacks at USC at some point in their career and it's going to be an exciting competition. All three are different in the style they play and also all three are very good quarterbacks, and it's going to be the player that's going to help us win the most." -Kiffin

Cal

  • Competition: Zach Kline, freshman; Austin Hinder, junior; Jared Goff, freshman
  • Front-runner: Unclear
  • Last year: Zach Maynard (9 starts), Allan Bridgford (2 starts)
  • First practice: Monday
  • Lowdown: This might be the hardest battle to figure out, but know this - whoever starts will put up numbers. In new coach Sonny Dykes' Air Raid passing attack last year, Louisiana Tech threw the ball 44 times per game for 350.8 yards per contest. In the spring, Dykes seemed to favor four-star freshman Zach Kline, so don't be surprised if he wins the job.
  • He said it: "Maybe one practice in, we'll have a guy that looks like a million dollars, but we don't know right now because we can't watch them during the summer. I have no idea who's looked better. Yeah, I've talked to our players, but it has to do more with who bought a nice pair of shoes, or the guy who got a new girlfriend." -Dykes

Colorado

  • Competition: Connor Wood, junior; Stevie Joe Dorman, sophomore; Jordan Gehrke, sophomore; Sefo Liufau, freshman
  • Front-runner: Wood
  • Last year: Jordan Webb (9 starts), Nick Hirschman (2 starts), Wood (1 start)
  • First practice: Tuesday
  • Lowdown: New Buffs coach Mike MacIntyre put on his happy face at Pac-12 media day, but it's hard to get excited for his QB situation in Colorado. Three of the six quarterbacks from the spring have since left the program (including Hirschman). A fourth, Webb, tore his ACL and was arrested for an off-campus assault. So, almost by default, the job is Wood's to lose.
  • He said it: "The future is bright, no matter what you hear out there, our future is going to be bright and we're going to work hard and make the right steps and do it the right way." - MacIntyre

Washington State

  • Competition: Connor Halliday, junior; Austin Apodaca, freshman
  • Front-runner: Halliday
  • Last year: Jeff Tuel (7 starts), Halliday (5 starts)
  • First practice: The Cougars practiced for the first time Friday.
  • Lowdown: When Mike Leach wasn't talking about zombies, comparing books to marriage and explaining why he never checks luggage at the airport; he was surprisingly, or seemingly, honest about who his quarterback will be. In short, Apodaca has talent, but Halliday has experience. And he'll probably win the job, too.
  • He said it: "Connor's got to go out there, show his skills and take control of it. Connor's got more experience (than Apodaca), he's a quick learner and he's emerged as a leader on our team. He gets a lot out of everybody around him." -Leach

Oregon State

  • Competition: Cody Vaz, senior; Sean Mannion, junior
  • Front-runner: Neither
  • Last year: Mannion (8 starts), Vaz (5 starts)
  • First practice: Monday
  • Lowdown: In reality, who coach Mike Riley names his quarterback in Week 1 won't necessarily be the same as who he starts the whole season. Last year, Mannion and Vaz split almost evenly in games started. They both have their merits, but Vaz is probably the safer bet with Mannion's turnover concerns (31 touchdowns, 31 interceptions last two seasons).
  • He said it: "I feel pretty good about both of them, where they're at, and how they're competing." - Riley

Contact reporter Zack Rosenblatt at zrosenblatt@azstarnet.com or 573-4145. On Twitter @ZackBlatt

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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