Big 12 will see new names at quarterback in 2010
For my reaction on my Big 12 bowl picks — some decent projections, some not so decent — check out the latest episode of ConferenceChatterTV below:
The Big 12 is 4-3 so far in bowl games this postseason. The best the conference has ever done is 5-3.
Here's a conference breakdown, as of Monday morning:
• Mountain West: 4-0
• Independents: 1-0
• Sun Belt: 1-0
• Big East: 4-2
• Big 12: 4-3
• SEC: 5-4
• ACC: 3-3
• Big Ten: 3-3
• Conference USA: 2-4
• Western Athletic: 1-2
• Pac-10: 2-5
• Mid-American: 0-4
Texas-Alabama for the BCS Championship on Thursday night is all that's left for the Big 12. Can the conference finally pull one off against the SEC? Stay tuned for my preview video and a prediction this week. In the meantime, feel free to offer your own prediction.
Also, I'm sure everyone will be watching the Texas-Alabama game on Thursday night. Stop by KUSports.com during the game, where I'll be keeping a live game blog during the BCS Championship, kind of like what I did last year for Oklahoma-Florida. It was fun opening up discussion in the comments section with you guys as the game progressed.
The Big 12 has been known as a conference that sports a wide range of quality college quarterbacks, particularly in the past two seasons.
In the 2008 season, for instance, a Big 12 quarterback took up five of the top 10 spots in the country in passing yards per game.
This 2009 season, four of the top 11 spots in passing yards per game belong to Big 12 signal callers.
Will 2010 see similar results? If 2010 is again the year of the quarterback in the Big 12, there are going to be some new faces under center to pad the stat sheets.
Here's a brief glance at who figures to start at quarterback for each conference team next season.
Starting in the South, in order of 2009 finish:
Texas: 13-0 overall, 8-0 Big 12, South champion
Front-runner: Garrett Gilbert
Situation: It seems like Colt McCoy has been at Texas forever, but he finally must move on from Austin after Thursday's BCS Championship.
Once that happens, the factory that is Texas will continue to produce. Gilbert, a five-star Rivals.com recruit, will take over as quarterback next season as a sophomore. He saw action in eight games this season, going 15-of-26 for 124 yards.
Gilbert is a local product out of Austin's Lake Travis High, the same school that Kansas quarterback Todd Reesing attended. Gilbert, at 6-foot-4, 207 pounds, is considered a pro-style quarterback. Texas should contend for the Big 12 South title again next season.
Oklahoma State: 9-4, 6-2
Front-runner: Brandon Weeden
Situation: Weeden, a former second-round pick of the New York Yankees in 2002, will be a junior next season, even though he's 26 years old. Baseball didn't work out for the Edmond, Okla., native.
Weeden began the season as the Cowboys' third-string quarterback. His most memorable moment came on Nov. 19 vs. Colorado, when he replaced an ineffective Alex Cate (0-9, INT) and threw for 168 yards and two touchdowns.
Texas Tech: 9-4, 5-3
Front-runner: Taylor Potts
Situation: Potts threw for 3,440 yards, 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions in his junior season. He also missed two games.
Tech has to feel confident that if Potts gets injured — or is ineffective — Steven Sheffield, who will be a senior next year, can step in like he did in the Alamo Bowl and lead the Red Raiders to victory.
Oklahoma: 8-5, 5-3
Front-runner: Landry Jones
Situation: With Sam Bradford entering the 2010 NFL Draft, Jones should have the edge at the starting job as a sophomore next season, especially after a school record-breaking Sun Bowl performance that saw him pass for 418 yards and three touchdowns in a victory over Stanford.
Texas A&M: 6-7, 3-5
Front-runner: Jerrod Johnson
Situation: Johnson will probably be one of the best quarterbacks in the Big 12 next season as a senior. He leads Big 12 quarterbacks in touchdown passes this year with 30 (Colt McCoy has 27 with the BCS Championship remaining), and also produced 506 rushing yards and eight additional scores on the ground.
Baylor: 4-8, 1-7
Front-runner: Robert Griffin
Situation: Griffin, who suffered a season-ending knee injury, is ahead of schedule in his rehab and should be ready for spring practice. Freshman Nick Florence filled in nicely in Griffin's absence, but there's no question who will start for Baylor next season.
Moving onto the North, in order of 2009 finish:
Nebraska: 10-4 overall, 6-2 Big 12, North champion
Front-runner: Zac Lee
Situation: Lee, a junior, was inconsistent all season, but played well in Nebraska's 33-0 thumping of Arizona in the Holiday Bowl. He completed 13-of-23 passes for 173 yards and a touchdown, and also ran for a 65 yards and a separate score.
After the bowl game, Lee said he had been playing through pain in his right, throwing elbow since the second week of the season. He will have surgery on Wednesday to repair an extensive tear on his flexor tendon in the right elbow. The scheduled rehab time is 10-12 weeks, meaning he could be ready in time for spring ball. If he shows progress, he could use the momentum gained from the Holiday Bowl to beat out sophomore-to-be Cody Green, who is a gifted runner, but still must improve his throws.
Missouri: 8-5, 4-4
Front-runner: Blaine Gabbert
Situation: Zero controversy here. Gabbert had a solid sophomore campaign, throwing for 3,593 yards, 24 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He'll miss Danario Alexander, but should take a step forward next season.
Kansas State: 6-6, 4-4
Front-runner: Carson Coffman
Situation: Grant Gregory, K-State's quarterback in 2009, is a senior, so he's out of the picture. Coffman was inconsistent this season, passing for only two touchdowns and four interceptions in limited duty. Oregon transfer Chris Harper, a 6-3, 230-pounder and Wichita native, is expected to challenge Coffman for the starting role.
Iowa State: 7-6, 3-5
Front-runner: Austen Arnaud
Situation: Arnaud will return in 2010 for his senior season, after throwing for 1,015 yards, 14 touchdowns and 13 interceptions this season. Not spectacular, but he did add 561 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on the ground.
Colorado: 3-9, 2-6
Front-runner: Tyler Hansen
Situation: Cody Hawkins will be a senior, while Hansen will be a junior, but there's little question as to who gives the Buffaloes a better chance of winning. It's Hansen.
Kansas: 5-7, 1-7
Front-runner: Kale Pick
Situation: Pick will be a sophomore next year, and his experience in seeing the field as a freshman will give him the edge to become the starter. Pick, who saw action mostly in mop-up duty, thew only five passes this season. Former coach Mark Mangino chose to utilize Pick's strengths more in running the football. Pick ran 14 times for 167 yards (11.9 average).
New KU coach Turner Gill has a history of molding athletic quarterbacks. As quarterbacks coach at Nebraska, he helped Tommie Frazier win two national championships (1994, 1995); Gill also was QBs coach when Eric Crouch won the Heisman Trophy in 2001.
Pick will be pushed by freshman Jordan Webb. Also keep an eye on recently-signed junior college quarterback Quinn Mecham, who threw for 3,091 yards and 40 touchdowns last year at Snow College (Utah). I know it's only Snow College, but those are some lofty numbers.
That should be all for now, friends. As always, discuss.