The following rankings are not based solely on the ability of the starter, but experience, and depth at the position.
Surprised to see the Wildcats at the top? Don't be. Nobody in college football throws a prettier looking ball than Nick Foles. He's a first round NFL talent and has put up big numbers in the past. What puts this unit over the top? Backup Matt Scott. Scott has experience as a starter and is arguably the most mobile QB in the conference. There's talk of redshirting the senior so he's available as the starter in 2012, but the option to use him is there if Foles goes down. If Foles is healthy, he'll challenge Andrew Luck as not only the best QB in the conference, but in the entire country.
Andrew Luck is the golden child of college football right now. A quarterback with all of the intangibles. Luck would have been the number 1 pick in the 2011 NFL Draft had he entered, but is instead coming back to Stanford for his redshirt junior year. He'll be the pre-season first team All American QB for pretty much every publication out there and deservedly so, but the Cardinal fall to number 2 based on experience behind Luck. Of the three players behind him competing for the backup spot in Josh Nunes, Robbie Picazzo, and Brett Nottingham, only Nunes has thrown in a pass in a game, with just 7 attempts. Stanford's season is highly contingent upon Luck staying healthy.
Junior Darron Thomas came out of nowhere in 2010 to beat out senior Nate Costa and lead the Ducks to the BCS Championship Game. Thomas is arguably the top dual-threat QB in the conference and can make plays time and time again with his feet in the fast-paced Oregon offense. Where he really impressed though was throwing the ball throwing for over 2,800 yards with 31 touchdowns and only 9 interceptions. Thomas is one of the most dangerous players in the country. Behind him isn't much though right now in terms of experience. Freshman Brian Bennet, who was highly regarded coming out of high school is the favorite to be the backup. Oregon seems to plug guys in at any spot and make it work. Even if Thomas goes down, they'll still find a way to win 10 games.
LIke Stanford, there's Matt Barkley and no experience. Barkley is one of the top QBs in the country and a likely first rounder in 2012 should he forego his senior year, but behind him are three freshman. Jesses Scroggins is a redshirt, so he's had a year in the program, and true freshman Max Wittek and Kody Kessler enrolled early so it's not as dire as it would seem, but if Barkley goes down, the Trojans are going to be in some trouble.
5. Washington State
If there is one position that Washington State is set at, it's quarterback. The Cougs might not win many games, but Jeff Tuel is one of the top 5 or six QBs in the conference, and Marshall Lobbestael isn't a slouch either. Because of Tuel alone, Wazzu is going to upset a good team this year at some point.
Zach Maynard, a transfer from Buffalo, is going to get the nod as the starter, but the Bears have a few behind him that are more than serviceable should Maynard go down or show signs of ineffectivenss. Brock Mansion is the backup for now, but started the final 5 games of 2010 posting a 1-4 record as the starter. Allen Bridgford and Austin Hinder will battle it out for the number 3 spot. Cal is in pretty good shape in terms of their depth, but with Jeff Tedford on the hot-seat, they'll need Maynard or Mansion to be very effective.
Will it be Kevin Prince, Richard Brehaut, true freshman Brett Hundley, Darius Bell, or Nick Crissman? So much talent. So much depth. So little production. UCLA has been dogged by poor and inconsistent play throughout Rick Neuheisel's tenure and another season of it could cost him his job. If healthy, which has been a big if in his career, the redshirt junior Prince is your likely starter. He's been the most effective of the guys that have played and shows glimpses of All Pac 12 potential at times. Prince's ability to make plays with his feet likely sets him apart from the rest of the group. Outside of Prince, the Bruins are in good shape with backups having four different players who have thrown passes in a game if you include walk-on Clayton Tunney. The big wild card in their situation is Brett Hundley. Hundley was a top 5 national QB recruit and enrolled early. If the others struggle, the Bruins could turn to the one that has been dubbed 'the Savior.'
8. Oregon State
Junior Ryan Katz returns after a moderately successful sophomore year in which he threw for 2,400 yards with 17 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. With another year of experience, he might be the breakout candidate at QB in the Pac 12. Behind Katz is sophomore Cody Vaz, who saw mop-up duty last season, but getting a few snaps in a game situation goes a long ways in a player's development.
Why is Utah low on this list despite having one of the most experienced quarterbacks? Depth. It's Jordan Wynn or bust. There is absolutely ZERO experience behind Wynn, which isn't a good thing considering he struggled to stay healthy for much of 2010. When healthy though, Jordan has shown that he can be an elite quarterback and the switch to Norm Chow's west coast offense fits him better then the previously used spread. Behind Wynn will be true freshman Tyler Shreve and lightly regarded JC transfer Jon Hays, neither of whom has ever thrown a Division 1 pass.
10. Arizona State
Is there any team in the country that is more overrated going into the season than the Sun Devils? It all starts at quarterback where they've got ONE guy that has taken snaps in a game and started only two contest. Granted, Brock Osweiler has loads of talent, but he beat two teams that combined to go 11-14 last season and now he's talking National Championship? There are talented players behind Osweiler as well in Taylor Kelly, early enrollee true freshman Michael Bercovici, who was impressive in the spring, and Michael Eubank. That said, they have zero experience. This is the least experienced group in the conference and matchups in weeks 2 through 4 against Missouri, Illinois, and USC, could bring a wake-up call for these youngsters.
Senior Tyler Hansen has split time over his first three season, but should have the reigns all to himself in 2011. While he does have plenty of experience, Hansen just hasn't been very good, never throwing for more than 8 touchdown passes in a season and has more career interceptions than touchdowns. Behind Hansen they have Nick Hirschman and Brent Burnettt, neither of whom have throw a college pass yet.
Washington enters the post Jake Locker era without much to lean on at quarterback. Sophomore Keith Price was the backup in 2010 and has seen some action. He's the favorite to take over as the starter, but he's not eliciting a ton of excitement in Seattle. His backup is the son of arguably the greatest quarterback in NFL history. Nick Montana, son of Joe, will be a redshirt freshman looking to wrestle away the starting spot. Long term things look good for the Huskies, but 2011 could end up a rough go of it for the QBs.
Ranking The Pac 12 Units- Quarterback
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