Talking Cougar QBs with Todd Sturdy

IF THE QB PLAY at Washington State this spring was any indication, Cougar fans might have a lot to smile about, and in both present and the future. Offensive coordinator and QBs coach Todd Sturdy turns low-key when asked for any predictions, but even Sturdy can't help keep the smile out of his voice when asked about the performances of Jeff Tuel and Co. this spring.

Lost in the shuffle of last season's 2-10 mark was this little nugget – in the quarterbacks rating system used by the NCAA, Jeff Tuel was ranked among the nation's Top 50 quarterbacks, right smack dab at No 50 actually

In the conference, Tuel ranked higher than the quarterbacks at California, UCLA and Oregon State, as well as a lauded senior QB from Washington projected to be a first round draft pick by the NFL later today Keep in mind Tuel was just a second-year sophomore in 2010

Tuel this spring was noticeably bigger than last season He won't ever be mistaken for a middle linebacker, Tuel's body type is tall and trim, but he looked like a rock solid QB this spring, even more prepared to take the pounding that comes along with being a QB – and he started every game in 2010

An offense generally takes a while to get their timing down in spring drills or fall camp Plenty of great quarterbacks start out slow Tuel, instead, started off hot and he kept it going all spring long

We asked Sturdy for bullet point summaries on the QB position post-spring, here's what he had to say..

"Jeff had a great spring He played at a high level for a sophomore last year, and especially in the second half of the season I thought he did exceptionally well This spring he headed in with all that experience and built on it He's a much more complete player than he was a year ago," said Sturdy

What in particular stood out?

"Growth and development makes a big difference…and Jeff just did a great job of taking care of the football He went a long time before he even had an interception and that was a deflected ball But he's really reading defenses better, he's understanding his protections, he's gotten a lot better in all of those aspects He had a great, great spring," said Sturdy

TURNING TO TUEL'S BACKUPS, Sturdy said there was much to like coming out of spring drills You get the sense in talking to Sturdy that the No 2 job isn't settled yet, that it will play out this offseason and in fall camp You also get the sense that he's confident in the group

On Connor Halliday: "Connor was up and down this spring Obviously he's very young, he spent last year on the scout team working off cards and sometimes that builds bad habits, but he did a great job for us on the scout team, he's the consummate team player So there were some inconsistencies in his play, as he learn concepts and system – it's one thing to know it, and another to match it up against the particular defense you're seeing But what you did see though the last couple of weeks, he settled down and started to execute at a higher level It's just normal learning curve stuff, but he's a great talent He did some great things and here's the thing, he's going to be a great player for us "

On Marshall Lobbestael: "Marshall finished the spring really strong, I thought There were some inconsistencies in his play throughout, but Marshall established himself He executed at a high level at times And I think what you saw was that he was pressing a little bit He's such a competitor and he was trying to compete But once he forgot about all that, once he just went out and played, that's when his performance raised up, and it raised up a lot "

On David Gilbertson: "David has grown tremendously, his growth has been really good I was really pleased with where he was at, and he has room yet so he'll continue to get better…very excited about how he's progressing, he's got a great football mind He's a coach's son and that's evident I would like to see him take all those strengths he has in the film room and then carry them over a little more in the field He did some really good things this spring, I think he's got a bright future with the Cougars, he's doing well "

SOME WONDERED IF Halliday, while he might not challenge Tuel for the starting job, might push him a little bit more this spring than he did We asked Sturdy about that, and he tossed a bucket of cold water on the premise

"Connor still needs to develop physically…and he spent fall on scout team, he redshirted Jeff? He has 18 games under his belt -- there's a huge, huge difference there Connor is going to be a great player, he's got loads of talent and I'm very excited about him, but the thinking that he would be where Jeff's at, that's not realistic Connor is right where I expected him to be, and my expectations for him were high…He can do great things and make mistakes too But he's going to be a great player for us," said Sturdy

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