With just under four weeks remaining until the start of the 2010 college football season, five Big 12 Conference teams are seeking an answer to the same question: Who will be the starting quarterback?
Kansas, Kansas State, Nebraska, Colorado and Texas Tech are locked in quarterback battles that have carried over from spring ball into preseason camps.
A long-awaited final answer on a starter could come at any time leading up to Sept. 4, when most conference teams kick off the season.
Here are capsules breaking down each situation.
Let the competition begin:
Challengers: Sophomore Kale Pick, red-shirt freshman Jordan Webb.
The situation: Pick spelled Todd Reesing last season in mop-up duty, mostly seeking yardage on the run. The Dodge City native rushed 14 times for 167 yards, an impressive 11.9 average. But can he make the throws? Pick only attempted five passes last year.
Webb is known to have the better arm, and Gill praised the play of the Union, Mo., native in spring ball.
Quotable: “The quarterback spot is definitely wide-open at this point in time for us,” Gill said at Big 12 media days in Irving, Texas. “We’ll see how that all shakes out.”
Advantage: Pick. Barely. In the most competitive situation for the two quarterbacks so far — the spring game — Pick outplayed Webb. Pick completed 14 of 22 passes for 214 yards and two scores, while Webb was 8-for-13 for 46 yards and a touchdown.
Pick’s a year older and should fit in nicely with the Jayhawks’ new offensive system, which will focus more on running the ball. If he also displays an ability to make quality throws, that may earn him the job.
Challengers: Senior Carson Coffman, sophomore Collin Klein, junior Sammuel Lamur.
The situation: Coffman opened last season as the starter, before struggling and giving way to Grant Gregory. Coffman completed 60.4 percent of his passes for 860 yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions last year.
Klein played wide receiver and caught six passes for 38 yards and a touchdown last season. He has good size for a quarterback at 6-foot-5 and 233 pounds. Lamur red-shirted last season after transferring from Joliet (Ill.) Junior College.
Quotable: “We just do not have a clear-cut No. 1 right now,” K-State coach Bill Snyder said at media days. “The first snap that the quarterback will take with our No. 1’s will be Carson Coffman. He came out of spring not necessarily as the No. 1, but that individual will take the first rep, and then Collin Klein and Sammuel Lamur. All three of them, I think, will compete diligently.”
Advantage: Coffman, based on experience. Snyder may not have officially named a starter, but it seems it’s Coffman’s job to lose.
Challengers: Senior Zac Lee, sophomore Cody Green, red-shirt freshman Taylor Martinez.
The situation: Lee started 12 games last season, but was hurt and ineffective for the majority of the year. In Big 12 play, Lee threw only six touchdowns versus seven interceptions. He had surgery on the flexor tendon in his throwing arm in the offseason. As a result, he missed spring practices.
Green saw limited action as a freshman — he started two games — and threw for 317 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. Green is more of a threat to run (158 yards, two TDs) than Lee. Martinez took a red shirt last season.
Quotable: “We need the quarterback position to step up,” Nebraska coach Bo Pelini said. “Let’s face it. He’s at the center point. He’s the trigger guy.”
Advantage: Lee. He ended the year on a good note against Arizona, when he combined for 238 total yards and two scores in the Holiday Bowl. If he’s healthy, it could be his job to lose.
Challengers: Junior Tyler Hansen, senior Cody Hawkins.
The situation: The two quarterbacks had similar stats last year and split the playing time almost down the middle. Hansen finished the year 129-for-231 (55.8 completion percentage) for 1,440 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions. Hawkins’ line: 121-for-239 (50.6 percent), 1,277 yards, 10 TDs, 11 INTs.
In games where Hawkins started, CU was 1-4; the Buffaloes were 2-5 in Hansen’s starts.
Quotable: “Really, on any given day, you could probably split them with a razor hair,” CU coach Dan Hawkins said. “We’ll see how that goes. I think Tyler probably had a little bit of an edge coming out of spring ball.”
Advantage: Hansen. The coach seemed to say so himself.
Challengers: Senior Taylor Potts, senior Steven Sheffield.
The situation: Both battled injuries this spring, but are healthy in time for the preseason. Potts took most of the snaps last year, starting 10 games (Tech went 5-5 in that time). A concussion prohibited Potts from playing toward the middle of the season, and Sheffield played well his in absence, starting two games and winning both of them.
Quotable: “It’s going to be tough to make a decision, but one will stand out,” first-year Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said. “We look at everything, from how they handle pregame all the way to how they handle the meeting at the end of the scrimmage ... we will not have rotating quarterbacks. I don’t believe in having one guy go out one series and one the next.”
Advantage: Potts. He has the game experience and had a productive last month, winning the “Air It Out” challenge against other major-college quarterbacks at the Manning Passing Academy on July 10 in Thibodaux, La.