Before the 2013 college football season kicked off, many coaches, players, writers and fans had questions about the quarterback position in the league. With a handful of coaches refusing to name a starting quarterback and large number of unproven signal-callers, it seemed difficult to handicap who had the advantage at the quarterback spot.
It's no secret in all level of football, the quarterback is king. That has always seemed to be highlighted in the Big 12, where multiple Big 12 quarterbacks have gone on to win Heisman trophies or lead their respective teams to championships. In light of that fact, it is typically a wise decision to handicap the league race based on who has what at that position.
With that said, there has been enough turnover in the Big 12 in 2 short weeks to relook at the quarterback position and get a handle on where things stand.
The following quarterbacks appear to be settled in as their teams starter. Barring injury, these guys should be taking 1st team snaps all season long.
Bryce Petty (Baylor) - There was never really a competition for the starting QB position as redshirt junior Bryce Petty declared the job his on the way back from Baylor's Holiday Bowl win. He backed it up with a superb performance in the spring and fall camps, and has done nothing to give Coach Briles or Baylor fans any anxiety over his starting spot. Out of all the QB positions in the Big 12, Petty's stranglehold on his position may be the most firm. There's no question Coach Briles values an experienced QB that knows the offense, and backing up Petty is redshirt freshman Seth Russell (who incidentally has been very good in mop up duty - leads the league in passing efficiency and is 9th overall in yards) and true freshman Chris Johnson. For Petty, he's 2nd behind only Russell in passing efficiency and 2nd to Baker Mayfield of Texas Tech in yards per game - averaging a solid 325 yards with 4 passing TD's total and 1 rushing TD.
Sam Richardson (Iowa State) - Richardson took over for Iowa State late last season, and only has 3 career starts under his belt. However, it is clear he has the ISU job on lockdown. He took all the snaps in their season opening loss to Northern Iowa and performed well connecting on 22 of 32 attempts for 242 yards and 2 TD's, with no interceptions. In addition, Richardson was ISU's leading ball carrier with 74 yards on 21 attempts. At the moment, Richardson is THE Iowa State offense and is not going anywhere.
Baker Mayfield (Texas Tech) - It was a struggle to determine whether the Tech QB position could be dubbed "settled" after only 2 games with a still walk-on true freshman QB. During the off-season, most assumed Michael Brewer would be manning this spot for Tech, but an injury has kept him out at the start of the season. Unfortunately for Brewer and current backup David Webb, but fortunately for Tech fans, Baker Mayfield has absolutely destroyed his early season competition and appears to have a firm grasp on the QB job. Mayfield is currently average 390 yards passing/gm, the most in the Big 12, and already has 7 TD tosses in 2 games. He's also ranked 5th in efficiency, and has a credible completion ratio of 64 completions to 90 attempts. Mayfield will be subject to his biggest test by far tonight against TCU.
Jake Heaps (Kansas) - The BYU transfer took all the snaps in KU's opening game 31-14 win over South Dakota. While Heaps did not exactly light the world on fire (10 of 20 for 110 yards and 1 TD), he managed the offense and did not turn the ball over, while letting the Kansas rushing attack secure the victory. This job appears to firmly belong to Mr. Heaps to try to win some games for a desperate KU program, and he will need to be a little sharper as they travel to play Rice this weekend.
J.W. Walsh (Oklahoma State) Most Big 12 observers thought the QB battle at Oklahoma State would linger all season, but if J.W. Walsh has anything to say about it, he has firmly grabbed the QB1 spot. Against UTSA, Walsh had a completion percentage record for OSU after completing 24 of 27 passes and tossing 4 TD's and running in 1 more. He came to the bench in the second half after the team was up 42-7, which allowed the other candidate Clint Chelf to have some mop up time. Just a week earlier, Chelf started for the Cowboys against Mississippi State. However, Walsh replaced Chelf in the 3rd series of the game and went on to pass for 135 yards and rush for another 125 to secure the victory against their SEC opponent. Coach Mike Gundy has not been scared to shake things up in the past, so Walsh will need to continue to perform to hold onto this spot.
Unsettled due to Performance
As you will see below, there's really 2 more categories to work through, both of which cover unsettled QB situations. The more concerning to fans is unsettled due to performance as that often means one quarterback is unable to separate from the pack.
Blake Bell and Trevor Knight (Oklahoma) - Coach Bob Stoops shocked Big 12 fans and followers everywhere when he named Trevor Knight as the Sooners starting QB coming into the season. It had been widely assumed that the Belldozer, Blake Bell, would be taking over for a departed Landry Jones. Instead, Stoops went with redshirt freshman Knight who boasted a dual threat ability. After the first game, a resounding 34-0 win over Louisiana Monroe, there were still some questions in the minds of fans if Stoops had made the right choice. Knight did lead the team to a victory and did have just over 100 yards rushing, however, he was only 11 of 28 for 86 yards with 3 TD's and 1 int. Those are not the passing stats that Sooner fans are used to from guys like Sam Bradford and Landry Jones.
In the second game, Knight again struggled throwing the ball, going 10 for 20 for 119 yards and only 1 TD against West Virginia. He threw 2 costly interceptions in the 3rd quarter, and was only 1 of 5 passing in the 2nd half before Stoops pulled him in favor of Bell. Bell closed out the game and a 16-7 win for the Sooners - a game in which only 3 combined points were scored in the 2nd half. Turns out now that Knight has injured his knee and will not be suiting up this week against Tulsa, so Bell will get the start. Whether or not either of these QB's can hold onto the job when both are fully healthy is hard to determine at this point. In an offense that has become known in the past 8 years as one that can sling it around, they currently rank 110th nationally in raw passing yards and 81st in scoring - something Coach Stoops will certainly want to remedy.
Paul Millard and Clint Trickett (West Virginia) - This QB competition lasted all throughout fall camp, with Geno Smith's backup, Millard, ultimately winning the job and starting the first 2 games. However, against Oklahoma, his performance was uninspiring and Coach Dana Holgorsen said this week that he would be getting multiple QBs looks during practice and the competition was once again open. Against Oklahoma in Week 2, Millard led the offense to only 7 total points, completing just over half of his passes (21 of 41) for 218 yards and an interception. Many thought Florida State transfer Clint Trickett might win the battle during the offseason, but Holgorsen went with experience in the system over the newcomer that had some success at his previous stop. Holgorsen stated he thought about inserting Trickett into the OU game, but stayed with Millard who had received the vast majority of practice reps. Also in the mix, according to Holgorsen, is redshirt freshman Ford Childress.
Jake Waters and Daniel Sams (Kansas State) - Coach Bill Synder may have a gripe with calling this quarterback situation unsettled, as he appears to be pretty settled into playing both QBs. For the time being however, we are still skeptical that he will not ultimately want to choose one guy. Between Waters and Sams - you are looking at 2 entirely different skill sets. Both QBs have played in both games, including the shocking season opening loss to North Dakota State and last week's 48-27 victory over Louisiana Lafayette. Specifically, Waters had 31 pass attempts to only 2 by Sams, but Sams rushed the ball 8 times for an impressive 63 yards and 1 TD. Sams speed and style are electrifying, and has some Wildcat fans thinking back to Michael Bishop. But Waters led the Juco ranks in completion percentage a year ago, and completed about 70% of his passes against LA-Lafayette, in addition to being 4th in the conference in yards per game. With 4 interceptions in just 2 games though, Waters may force Coach Synder to stay more conservative on the ground with Sams. This will be an interesting one to watch to see if Snyder keeps with 2 QB's all season.
Unsettled due to Injury
Casey Pachall and Trevone Boykin (TCU) - This particular battle could have fallen into unsettled due to performance, but by default we have placed it here due to an injury to starter Casey Pachall. Coming into the season, Coach Gary Patterson refused to name a starter, despite Pachall being tabbed as the preseason 1st team all-conference QB. Sure enough, in TCU's opening game 37-27 loss to LSU, Patterson went with both QB's, Pachall attempting 16 passes and running the ball twice and Boykin attempting 12 passes and running the ball 10 times.
In TCU's second game against Southeastern Louisiana, Pachall played every snap on offense until going down with an injury to his non-throwing arm with 2:38 to play in the second quarter. Boykin took over at that point and played the remainder of the game, allowing TCU to win by 21 in what was only a 3 point game at the half. It's not exactly clear when Pachall will be cleared; he had surgery this week on his injured arm. For the foreseeable future, Boykin is the new default starter at TCU - just like last season.
David Ash and Case McCoy (Texas) - Despite their defensive deficiencies, the Longhorns believed to have one thing figured out this season - their starting QB. Much was made of the maturity of Ash and his ability to firmly lead the team having been named the starter going into the summer. Unfortunately for Ash and the Texas faithful, he went down with head and shoulder injuries late in their 40-21 blowout loss to BYU. Coach Mack Brown has listed Ash as questionable and has stated he will be a game-time decision. If he does not start, Case McCoy once again steps in to take his place, and true freshman Tyrone Swoopes will act as McCoy's backup.