Major College Football Programs With QB Concerns
by Trevor Whenham - 07/09/2008
This is a scary time of year for fans and backers of several college football teams. The season is just around the corner, and some teams have way more questions than answers when it comes to their quarterback. Starting a freshman quarterback, or an older guy who is totally inexperienced, is frightening. It can turn out way better than you could ever dream, as it did for Oklahoma with Sam Bradford. On the other hand, it can be a disaster - Jimmy Clausen at Notre Dame leaps into mind. These new starters can be a real headache for bettors as well. You can't assume that they are automatically going to be awful because sometimes they aren't, but you can give yourself an ulcer by trusting them with your money as well. As is the case every year, several high profile teams are heading into the season with real concerns at pivot:
LSU - It's not often that a national champion has to resort to playing an unproven third stringer to defend their title, but that's the case here. Matt Flynn finally graduated after a college career that seemed to last about 17 years. Ryan Perrilloux was the future hope for this team, and he was a shining light. Unfortunately he is also a moron. He'll be showing his stuff off in the lower ranks of college ball this year. That leaves a wide-open competition. They might not have much experience to choose from, but they are lucky to have Gary Crowton as offensive coordinator. The Wizard handles quarterbacks very well.
Given Crowton's presence, the leader in the quarterback race will likely be Andrew Hatch. He ran Crowton's system in high school, and he committed to BYU when the coach was there and left when Crowton was fired. He's an older player - a junior who has been on a Mormon mission - so he won't panic like a youngster. He's a very good runner with a suspect arm. Next in line is redshirt freshman Jarrett Lee. He's a big guy with a good arm. He's a pure pocket passer, though, and that might not stand well because Crowton favors the option. One of those two will likely start the season, but I don't think it will take long for true freshman Jordan Jefferson to get his chance. He's a four star recruit who is a dual-threat star. Crowton hasn't had the chance to run his offense with this caliber of athlete at the helm, and he has to be drooling over the chance. If he can't have Perrilloux then this is a decent consolation prize.
Michigan - I'm a devoted Michigan fan, so this situation pains me. I'm very optimistic about our future under Rich Rodriguez, but I am bracing myself for a lot of short-term pain. Chad Henne is in Miami, and Ryan Mallett ran away to Arkansas. That leaves us in a scary position. Our hopes were pinned on super-recruit Terrelle Pryor, but he chose to sell his soul to the devil and sign with Ohio State. That leaves us with a few players who will likely just be placeholders until the solid quarterback class Rodriguez is recruiting for next year can get into town. That can't happen soon enough.
Steven Threet is probably the leading pick at this point. He was a four star recruit from Michigan that chose Georgia Tech, but transferred back to his home state quickly. He has four years of eligibility left. He's a big guy with a strong arm, and he's smart. There's a problem, though - that's exactly what Ryan Mallett was, and he left town as fast as he could because he didn't see a drop-back passer fitting into the Rodriguez system. Threet underwhelmed in the spring game, but that's hardly a good indicator. Nick Sheridan is the next in line. He might be a bit more athletically suited to the system, but he doesn't have much of an arm. The intriguing possibility is true freshman Justin Feagin. If Rodriguez is committed to his system over the more prepared quarterback then this dual-threat player will see some playing time fairly early on. He needs to work on his throwing a bit, but he has the blistering speed and ridiculous athleticism that can make a coach drool. My guess is that Threet will start and Feagin will take some snaps before ultimately taking over. I also may have to drink a lot to get through this season.
Other teams with headache-inducing QB questions
Penn State - Here's another team that lost out on the Terrelle Pryor sweepstakes, though Joe Paterno is probably the only guy on the planet who thought that they actually had a chance. Pat Devlin is the most likely starter, and he has just one career attempt. On the plus side, he only has to replace Anthony Morelli, so it's not like he has big shoes to fill. Morelli was terrible.
Kentucky - Replacing Andre Woodson won't be easy. Their choices both have experience, but not much. Sophomore Mike Hartline has six career passes, and Senior Curtis Pulley has three interceptions and no touchdowns, and he didn't throw a pass last year.
Boston College - No pressure replacing the top QB in the NFL Draft. Senior Chris Crane doesn't have much experience, and now he likely has to step up and be the man. It won't help that he lost his running game, too. Head coach Jeff Jagodzinski is supposed to be an offensive genius. This will be his chance to prove it.
Oregon - The Ducks have no shortage of choices to replace Dennis Dixon and Ryan Leaf, but only Justin Roper has any real experience, and that only came at the end of last year when everyone else was hurt. He'll be challenged by junior Nathan Costa, sophomore Cody Kempt, and BYU transfer Cade Cooper. The team desperately needs one of those players to step up quickly and assert themselves.