It's hard to win in college football without a good, experienced quarterback. So perhaps it should have been no surprise that several Big East teams struggled on offense at times in 2010.
Remember last offseason, when we talked about how South Florida's B.J. Daniels and Rutgers' Tom Savage were the most experienced league quarterbacks in terms of starts despite coming off their freshman seasons? Even that wasn't a great indicator of success, as Daniels had to adjust to a new system and Savage got hurt, benched and eventually decided to transfer.
The good news for the Big East is that there will be many more experienced signal-callers ready to open the 2011 season. First, let's take a look at which quarterbacks will have the most career starts under their belts when next season rolls around:
1. Daniels, South Florida, junior: 22 career starts
2. Zach Collaros, Cincinnati, senior: 15
T-3. Ryan Nassib, Syracuse, junior: 13
T-3. Geno Smith, West Virginia, junior: 13
T-3. Tino Sunseri, Pittsburgh, junior: 13
6. Chas Dodd, Rutgers, sophomore: 8
7. Will Stein, Louisville, senior: 2
8. Michael Box, Connecticut, sophomore: 1
Daniels will be the graybeard as a third-year starter, but Collaros, Nassib and Smith all saw significant time in the 2009 season. Smith, Sunseri, Dodd and whoever Connecticut's starting quarterback is will all be playing for a new offensive coordinator this season.
Now let's look at the likelihood of potential quarterback battles this spring at each school:
Cincinnati -- Chance of competition: slim to none. Collaros is the established guy and a great leader who shouldn't have to worry about job security.
Connecticut -- Chance of competition: high. Box made only one start and it was a disastrous one against Louisville. With new coach Paul Pasqualoni coming in, recruit Michael Nebrich enrolled and several other candidates on the roster, this one looks wide open.
Louisville -- Chance of competition: guaranteed. Stein, a former walk-on who's under 5-foot-10, has a ton of moxie. But he'll have to hold off highly-touted early enrollee Teddy Bridgewater for the gig.
Pittsburgh -- Chance of competition: medium to high. Sunseri started every game last year and improved during the season, but new coach Todd Graham brings an entirely new offensive system. Don't be surprised if redshirt freshmen Mark Myers and Anthony Gonzalez get a serious look this spring.
Rutgers -- Chance of competition: slim. At least for the spring, Dodd should be safe. His only real competition will come from a pair of incoming freshmen this summer.
South Florida -- Chance of competition: good. Daniels may have more starts than anybody, but Skip Holtz is at least going to let Bobby Eveld push him in the spring. And don't forget about redshirt freshman Jamius Gunsby.
Syracuse -- Chance of competition: possible. Nassib started every game in 2010 and had an excellent bowl performance. But Syracuse has a lot of quarterbacks on the roster, including once-hyped recruit Jonny Miller. Nassib has the definite edge but can't get complacent.
West Virginia -- Chance of competition: tiny. Smith is the man in Morgantown, and his two freshman backups in 2010 transferred. The only concern is his foot injury that may hold him out of spring practice drills as Dana Holgorsen installs his new offense. But only a monumental upset or further injury would prevent Smith from starting the opener in 2011.