Saturday, April 30, 2011

Pac-12 College Football: Quarterback Spring Report Card

The success of most teams lie solely in the hands of the player taking the snaps.

While an excellent defense can certainly take teams to the glory land, the quarterback is the one player than can completely change the makeup of a team. 

The Pac-10 produced several outstanding quarterbacks during its existence and things should not be any different with the addition of Colorado and Utah.

With Andrew Luck returning for another season and several other gunslingers looking to make their mark in 2011, the quarterbacks of the Pac-12 will be as dangerous as ever.

Let’s hand out grades to the possible starting quarterback of the Pac-12.    

Andrew Luck, Stanford
Stanford fans should send the Carolina Panthers a Thank You note for helping Andrew Luck to decide to stay another year. 

Luck’s success last season was fun to watch and it is great that college football fans get to ride the experience one more time.

As a red shirt sophomore, Luck dazzled the nation.  Not only did he lead the Pac-10 in yards (3,332), completion percentage (70.7), and touchdowns (32), but he helped Stanford to its largest single season win total (12) and marched the Cardinal to its first ever BCS bowl victory.    

Although Stanford losses a chunk of his stout offensive line, Luck’s unbelievable talent should shine the brightest in the Pac-12.

Grade: A+

Darron Thomas, Oregon
Darron Thomas dazzled the Pac-10 last season, ranking 11th in the nation with 30 passing touchdowns and coming just shy of a National Championship.

Thomas’s explosive dual-threat ability makes him a dangerous weapon again in 2011.  Add LeMichael James to the equation and Thomas is primed for another outstanding season.

Grade: A

Matt Barkley, USC
Matt Barkley showed extreme improvement in his sophomore campaign, ranking third in the Pac-10 in passing touchdown (26), yards per game (232.6), and completion percentage (62.6).

USC’s offense will be fun to watch in 2011 with Barkley hounding the calls to his troops.  His talent is quickly falling in line with the many other successful USC quarterbacks. 

Grade: A

Nick Foles, Arizona
Despite his horrendous performance in the Alamo Bowl, Nick Foles should flash several signs of brilliance throughout his senior season. 

Foles seems to be on track early. He sparkled in Arizona’s spring game, connecting on 11 of 16 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown. 

Grade: B+

Brock Osweiler, Arizona State
Steven Threet’s unexpected departure from the sport due to post-concussion symptoms opened the gates wide open for Brock Osweiler to retake the starting job in 2011.

Oswieler didn’t waste any time getting the fans back on his side either.  In Arizona State’s spring game, he hammered home five touchdowns and collected 237 yards on 22 attempts.

If Arizona State wants to be a serious South Division title contender this season, they will need Oswieler to become one of the top passers in a conference with a gaggle of golden arms.

Grade: B+

Zach Maynard, California
With the departure of Kevin Riley, the Bears’ list of possible successors is widely uncertain. 

While the competition between Zach Maynard, Allen Bridgford, and Brock Mansion will stay tight throughout the summer, the money of most people around the Bay Area is on Maynard. 

Maynard has had an impressive spring, and with a new quarterback coach guiding him, this could be a surprising weapon in Jeff Tedford's shed.

Grade:  B-

Jordan Wynn, Utah
Shoulder surgery has sidelined Jordon Wynn this offseason.  After a stagnant spring game without him, it appears that Utah definitely needs Wynn to make a full recovery in order to stay competitive in the much deeper Pac-12.

Wynn threw 17 touchdowns and 2,334 yards in the WAC last year.  With the increase of talented defenses slated for this season, it might be difficult for him to improve on these numbers. 

Grade: B-

Keith Price, Washington
Although Keith Price will have to fight off the son of a quarterback legend to be Washington’s starting quarterback, he definitely made a convincing case of his worthiness in this spring.  In the annual game, he aired out three passing touchdowns and used his mobility to collect another one on the ground.  

Nick Montana also showed off signs of promise in the game, making sure this stays a competition until the end.

However, Steve Sarkisian contends that the quarterback position will be a group effort between the two to start off the season.   

Grade: B-

Tyler Hansen, Colorado
Tyler Hansen dazzled onlookers in Colorado’s spring game, looking very fluent in Jon Embree’s new offense.

This was Colorado’s first glimpse of the senior since he was knocked out for the season in late October, and he certainly provided fans with a glimmer of hope. 

Unless something dramatic occurs from now until August, expect to see Hansen calling signals at least to start off the season.     

Grade: C+

Jeff Tuel, Washington State
In an off-season that Coach Paul Wulff is calling the best he has seen since he took over in 2008, Jeff Tuel will be the key to truly changing the tide for Washington State.

Tuel looked sharp in the Cougar’s spring game, connecting on 11 of 16 passes with a touchdown.  His continued consistency this spring has given him a decent edge over junior Marshall Lobbestael, making him a favorite to start on opening day.

Last year, Tuel ranked fourth in the Pac-10 in passing yards per game (231.7), but threw the second most interceptions (12).

Grade: C+

Ryan Katz, Oregon State
Wrist surgery in January is keeping Ryan Katz from seeing that much field time this spring.

Katz experienced a turbulent season in 2010 and things will not get any easier this year with Jacquizz Rodgers making the leap to the pros. 

While Oregon State searches for an identity, Katz will be an easy scapegoat if things go awry fast.

Grade: C

Kevin Prince, UCLA
UCLA’s problems at quarterback have yet to be answered and expect this trend to continue through the fall.

As the incumbent, Kevin Prince has a slight edge in the starting quarterback race. However, Rick Neuheisel insists that he has not been impressed by any of the candidates and that the competition is wide open.

Although Prince is still recovering from a knee injury, expect him to rise to the top by the time opening day comes around.    

Grade: C-