Our collective seasonal foray into college basketball is cute, but soon we will return to college football’s comforting though slightly unnerving embrace. Here are five quarterback battles to monitor as we progress through the spring.
Texas: Texas could be Texas again quite quickly. The Longhorns have a soft schedule, returning coordinators, a top-tier defense and experienced depth on the offensive line and at the skill positions. They just need a quarterback. David Ash seems the best bet, though the “best bet” being a true sophomore who had a 4/8 touchdown to INT ratio last year is worrisome. Pedigreed junior Case McCoy will breathe down his neck, as well four-star early enrollee Connor Brewer. None of these guys looks like the next Vince or Colt, but if one can be solid, the Longhorns are loaded to make a run.
Notre Dame: Tommy Rees has spunk, but also has a dearth of elite skills and a penchant for careless throws. With the talent behind him, it is probably a question when not if he loses his job. Andrew Hendrix has better tools and could step forward in his third year. Everett Golson may be the most capable athletically to run Kelly’s offense, though has yet to take a competitive snap. There is also that Gunner Kiel kid who was the top-rated quarterback in the country and enrolled early. The Irish don’t need better quarterback play to make the leap. They will need it just to stay afloat. Road games at Michigan State, at Oklahoma and at USC leave them will be tough. They also play Michigan, Stanford, Miami and BYU. Notre Dame could improve and finish 8-5.
Florida: The Gators 2012 offense may resemble 2011 and 2010, a fruitless search to find Tim Tebow’s replacement. Florida has two Top 100 quarterback recruits from 2011 in Jeff Driskel and Jacoby Brissett. Though neither impressed when Charlie Weis sent out as decided sacrificial lambs last season and neither has distinguished himself in the spring, opening the door for redshirt sophomore Tyler Murphy to make a case for himself. Muschamp has 10 starters back on defense and returns most of the offensive line. If new coordinator Brent Pease can coax any production from the skill positions, Florida is not that far off in the SEC East.
Stanford: The Cardinal will drop next season, but to maintain their positive momentum they can’t drop precipitously. Much of that pressure will fall on Andrew Luck’s replacement. Shaw has two 6’4,” pro-style, former recruits in junior Josh Nunes and redshirt sophomore Brett Nottingham who are the frontrunners, though the two have just 10 career passing attempts combined. Both could be competent and be buttressed by a tough, physical team, though neither will have much time to settle. The Cardinal play USC on Sept. 15 and play The Big Game and at South Bend before Halloween.
Auburn: Chizik’s support remains strong, though another rough start after an Alabama title would be unwise. New offensive coordinator Scott Loeffler was a longtime quarterbacks coach at Michigan, has sent a number of quarterbacks to the NFL. He will have options at Auburn, though none of them proven. Clint Moseley put okay numbers after taking over at midseason in 2011 (besides the 17 sacks in 125 drop backs). Former top 100 recruit Kiehl Frazier has promise but has only seen legit action as a runner and may not fit the new offense. Auburn also has spring enrollee Zeke Pike. Whoever the choice is will have to make due without Michael Dyer and with two new offensive tackles. He also must be prepared immediately. Three of their first five are against Clemson, LSU and Arkansas.
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