Spring Football Preview — Quarterback
"He's got to refine his game," Watson continued. "He's got to get more consistent fundamentally. He's brilliant at knowing where the ball is supposed to go and managing our offense. But he's got to get more fundamentally sound."
Klatt missed one game and parts of two others due to an injury, once again proving what has seemed to be the case for the past several years for the Colorado offense: One of the most important positions on the team is the No. 2 quarterback.
Erik Greenberg filled that role in 2003, subbing in for Klatt against Washington State and at Baylor, and starting at Florida State. While it's certainly unfair to place all the blame on Greenberg, all three of those games were losses. And the battle for the No. 2 quarterback position should be one of the more interesting ones to watch this spring.
Greenberg completed 49-of-92 passes for 737 yards, 3 INTs and 6 TDs last season. While Greenberg has the edge in experience, sophomore James Cox and redshirt freshmen Bernard Jackson and Brian White are expected to make a run at the second-string spot.
Cox is entering his second spring session, and should have a handle on the offense after competing with Klatt and Greenberg at quarterback last year. At one point during last spring, it even looked like Cox had the upper hand in the race for starting quarterback.
But Watson thinks the two younger players have the opportunity to make things "very, very interesting" next month.
"Both Brian White and Bernard Jackson are going to spice things up a bunch," he said. "Both of those kids still have to demonstrate that they know the offense, and I know that they're still learning it. There's going to be that learning curve that you have to fight through in spring, but by the end of spring my goal for them is to see the improvement in their play where the offense for them becomes a reaction as opposed to a process; where they're not thinking about it."
While CU coaches like Jackson's arm, he can also tuck the ball and run. White is more of the prototype dropback passer, but he has deceptive speed. And at 6-foot-5, 225-pounds, he's got great size and throws a good ball.
"Those two kids are enormous talents," Watson said.
True freshman Ryan Walters, who enrolled in school in January and is preparing for his first spring practices, will use the coming month to dive head first into the CU playbook, and get used to the practice regimen in Boulder. He told BSN earlier in the year that his goal was to have as good a grasp on the offense as Klatt does by the end of April.
That's going to be difficult, as Watson expects Klatt to take a step to the next level.
"I think he's far ahead of the curve," Watson said of Klatt. "As far as a first-year player, he had an enormous year. But in order to become a national caliber player, a top guy in the Big 12, he's going to have to refine his fundamentals, and force himself to check the football down in our check-down system.
"Joel's always looking for the next opportunity," Watson added. "He always wants to go, and that's where he wants to grow."
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