Countdown to Spring: Question No. 2

THE VETERAN OR THE NEWCOMER? It is guaranteed to be the most talked about topic this spring at Washington State -- who will be the starting quarterback for the Cougs in 2013? But there's one big caveat to that question...

2. Who is the Cougars' quarterback?
Connor Halliday is the favorite. But if he falters, is Austin Apodaca there to swoop in?

Possible, but the view from this chair is that this is Halliday's job to lose.

Halliday has the skills and experience to shine this season with the benefit of spring ball in his sails, which he didn't get last year.

Apodaca remains something of an unknown quantity. It's always hard to tell how beneficial a year's worth of experience on the scout team is because the scout team QB throws off a card – his purpose isn't to make plays, it's to help prepare the defense for that week's game.

Still, the really good QBs come away with a wealth of knowledge about the defensive players and use that to their advantage the following year. The most important thing, however, is being well versed in the Air Raid and making the proper calls and reads, something Apodaca is likely to be.

Apodaca is a smart player, and he will have his chances to shine this spring. But he'll need to consistently and clearly show he's a better choice than Halliday -- and he'll need to do that over a lengthyy period of time if he is to unseat Halliday. It's certainly within the realm of possibility. But is it likely given his lack of game experience?

Halliday has at times looked brilliant. Other times, he's been prone to poor reads and interceptions. There's no great mystery to what he needs to do to change that – study. Halliday has always been such a talent, the "school" side of football has not been as necessary. That changed when he entered the Pac-12.

In the final analysis, Halliday has all the tools to be a great one. And he's gotten enough experience under his belt to where he knows he needs to go through his reads faster and make decisions – including throwing it away – more quickly. The film study and working, working, working on the Air Raid in skelly are the last two pieces. If he nails those down, the QB question shouldn't be in question long -- unofficially, that is.

Because here's the twist...

Don't expect Mike Leach to name his guy after the spring session has come to an end.

Remember last year? As much as Jeff Tuel looked like the clear starter and was getting the reps with the No. 1 offense, Leach declined to officially name a starter until just before the season opener.

Unless it's a no-brainer, high performing, returning starter, Leach generally likes to wait to name his starting QB until 2-3 weeks into fall camp.

Even if Halliday or Apodaca comes away head and shoulders above the other this spring, Leach tends to like to foster open competition as long as possible. And that means not officially naming a starter at the send of spring or at the least, leaving the door open for change.

That means it'll be sometime in mid-August before Leach names his guy. Officially, anyway.

Behind Halliday and Apodaca this spring is walk on QB Jesse Brown. Conner Johnson, another walk on, came to WSU as a QB but spent last season at a variety of positions on the scout team. In the fall, true freshmen Tyler Bruggman and Isaac Dotson arrive. Bruggman is WSU's quarterback of the future, while Dotson will be working to convince the coaches his best college position is under center.

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