With spring practice underway at many Pac-12 destinations, it's time to do our annual position-by-position breakdown.
We move on to North Division quarterbacks. You can see the South Division here.
California: The Bears are about as straightforward here as you can be. Jared Goff, a member of the "Most Likely to Become Nationally Known This Fall" club, will be the starter and Luke Rubenzer, who came off the bench to offer some athleticism in the QB run game, will be a backup who sees scattered action. While true freshman Ross Bowers might emerge, the expectation here is he will redshirt before competing for the starting job in 2016 if Goff opts to enter the NFL draft. Which Goff won't, because he'll stage a ceremony announcing his return to Berkeley on Dec. 24 in front of a Christmas tree -- er, "Holiday Tree" -- and guarantee a national championship to Old Blue Nation! (Hey, Oski, what was in this cup you gave me?)
Oregon: Marcus Mariota is back for his senior year after winning the Heisman Trophy... Ha! Did we get you? We kid, but only because this QB situation has been a wee bit covered already, and everyone knows nothing will be chiseled into coach Mark Helfrich's great granite depth chart tablet he keeps at the pinnacle of Mount Hood until the coaches get a look at Eastern Washington transfer Vernon Adams during preseason camp. As it is, sophomore Jeff Lockie, Mariota's backup the past two years, will get the first snaps, and it will be up to redshirt freshman Morgan Mahalak, Georgia Tech transfer Ty Griffin or true freshman Travis Waller to make a move before Adams arrives. There will be a post-spring pecking order, and it will matter, but we don't expect many clear answers from the Ducks until close to the opener. Now, who is that against?
Oregon State: Oregon State has seven QBs vying to replace Sean Mannion, but over the weekend new coach Gary Andersen said he is already on course to narrow the reps between three guys this week. "We'll move forward a little bit quicker than we thought initially," Andersen told reporters after Saturday's practice. "It's not as far as the starter, but as far as the top three kids, they'll start to get some more reps. That'll become more clear on Tuesday." That means a clearer pecking order between sophomore Luke Del Rio (the 2014 backup), junior Brent VanderVeen, sophomore Kyle Kempt, redshirt freshmen Marcus McMaryion, Nick Mitchell and Tanner Sanders and true freshman Seth Collins is about to emerge. The Beavers are moving from a pro-style offense to a no-huddle spread, so athletic ability will be at more of a premium. Stay tuned.
Stanford: While other schools are often complicated, Stanford is easy. Fifth-year senior Kevin Hogan is the starter. Any potential questions about that were answered by the way he played late in the 2014 season. So the battle is for the backup job between sophomore Ryan Burns and redshirt freshman Keller Chryst, a pair of prototypical pocket passers standing 6-foot-5 and equipped with big arms. It's an important competition because the winner positions himself for 2016 as a potential multi-year starter.
Washington: Junior Cyler Miles is an incumbent starter, but this will be a wide-open competition. Miles did some good things in 2014 as a first-year starter, such as protecting the ball in the passing game, but he doesn't have a great arm and the bottom-line offensive numbers were poor. The question, then, is whether anyone is good enough to beat him out. The competition includes junior Jeff Lindquist, redshirt freshman K.J. Carta-Samuels and true freshman Jake Browning, a touted recruit. If you talk to 10 Huskies fans on this one -- and I have -- you'll probably get at least one vote for each of the aforementioned.
Washington State: Sophomore Luke Falk came off the bench for an injured Connor Halliday against USC last season and played well in three subsequent starts, though he started fast and faded a bit down the stretch, throwing six interceptions in the final two games. He'd seem to have the inside track to the starting job, but coach Mike Leach isn't the sort to easily hand over the starting job. So Falk should expect a challenge from true freshman Tyler Hilinski and redshirt freshman Peyton Bender.