Earlier Tuesday, I wrote about how the Big 12’s lack of marquee returning quarterbacks will affect the league race.
In this roundtable, the Big 12 blog team addresses four key questions about the conference’s quarterbacks:
Which quarterback battle will drag on longest?
Jake Trotter: I could see Oklahoma’s lasting a while. Freshman Trevor Knight outplayed Blake Bell in both preseason scrimmages, even though Bell entered the preseason as the favorite to win the job. Whoever comes out of camp with the nod will have to go against the tough defenses of Notre Dame and TCU. If the starter struggled, there’s a decent chance the Sooners would give the other a shot to spark the offense. A scenario like that might also spark a quarterback controversy in Norman.
David Ubben: Probably Texas Tech, but only by necessity. Michael Brewer's back injury doesn't sound like a minor situation, and true freshmen Davis Webb and All-Name Teamer Baker Mayfield may have to take over until he's back to 100 percent. And what if he takes another shot to his back during the season?
Brandon Chatmon: I have a feeling Oklahoma State's quarterback battle will last deep into the season. The Cowboys have proved they can win with both guys, so there should be no hesitation to look toward J.W. Walsh if Clint Chelf starts against Mississippi State or vice versa.
Max Olson: Texas Tech. Having to roll with true freshmen Webb and Mayfield to open the season is far from ideal. Whenever Brewer heals up, you have to think he’ll be right back in the mix to regain the starting job. I wouldn’t be shocked if all three earn starts this season.
Who is most likely to use a two-quarterback system all season?
Trotter: Oklahoma State. The Cowboys have two quarterbacks they have won with, and because Chelf and Walsh have different styles, there would be an advantage to using both. Because neither really has previous claim over the other and because the Cowboys run so many plays, this would be a unique circumstance where playing two quarterbacks would seemingly leave offensive chemistry undisturbed.
Ubben: Can we really call Oklahoma State a two-quarterback system? If so, I'm going with the Pokes. Chelf's going to start, but Walsh's short-yardage package is really valuable, and he proved last season that he's definitely skilled enough to make defenses respect his arm. He'll have opportunities to throw the ball more than people expect this season.
Chatmon: TCU' Casey Pachall brings passing skills and overall production that cannot be matched by Trevone Boykin, while Boykin brings running skills that make him too valuable to leave on the sideline indefinitely.
Olson: Nobody is better suited to handle that conundrum than Oklahoma State, right? Cowboys players know they can win ballgames with either Walsh or Chelf running the show. They trust both guys, and I think Mike Gundy does, too. Of all the league’s quarterback battles, OSU might be the only school that can’t go wrong.
Who ultimately will be the All-Big 12 quarterback?
Trotter: I’m going with Baylor’s Bryce Petty. Unlike most quarterbacks in the league, there’s no looming threat to take snaps away from him. And with the firepower around him, he could really have a monster season.
Ubben: Petty. He has great running backs for balance and one of the Big 12's best offensive lines, as long as it stays healthy. There are zero questions about his NFL-caliber arm strength, and if he can prove himself a competent decision-maker, he has 3,500 yards and 30 touchdowns in his future, as well as a good shot to clear 500 rushing yards.
Chatmon: So many possibilities, so little time. Let’s give the nod to Petty because he’s secured the starting spot at Baylor and promises to be surrounded by some of the Big 12’s most explosive skill players. It’s hard to imagine him not being productive in 2013.
Olson: Tough call. I’ll reluctantly go with Petty simply because he’s most likely to be the statistically superior candidate in December. He’s surrounded by too many offensive weapons; it’s just hard to picture him struggling. In the end, though, I won’t be surprised if the All-Big 12 quarterback honor goes to whoever wins the league title.
Who will be the biggest surprise quarterback?
Trotter: First, he has to win the job. But if Jake Waters can emerge out of the quarterback battle with Daniel Sams, he could become K-State’s great transfer quarterback. Waters set a junior college record for completion percentage on his way to winning a national title. That kind of precision would fit in well with an offense that returns seven starters.
Ubben: Dana Holgorsen's track record with quarterbacks is too good for Clint Trickett not to make a big splash in a new offense that's pretty easy for players to learn on the fly. He's my pick to win the WVU job, and even though the receivers are inexperienced, guys like Kevin White, Ivan McCartney, Mario Alford and KJ Myers should give him plenty of targets who will allow him put up big numbers.
Chatmon: Nobody is talking about Iowa State quarterback Sam Richardson, but the sophomore should be much more comfortable in Year 2 and could be poised for a breakout season for the Cyclones.
Olson: David Ash. The Texas junior is poised to really open some eyes this fall. Ash was better in 2012 than most people realize, but he’s always been judged more by his bad games than his good ones. I think that changes this season. Honorable mention goes to whoever starts at K-State. You know he’ll exceed expectations.