Connor Halliday Taking Control of QB Competition for Washington State Cougars

By Tyler Brett
Jason O. Watson – USA TODAY Sports

With Mike Leach opening up the quarterback competition this spring for the Washington State Cougars, there was some doubt whether Connor Halliday would be able to hold onto the job. While he split starts a season ago with the departed Jeff Tuel, his inconsistency left Leach far from impressed and opened the door for their current quarterback competition. A strong spring, however, has put Halliday in the lead for the starting job next fall. Can he keep it?

Halliday showed plenty of promise last season as he appeared in nine games, throwing for 1,878 yards with 15 touchdowns. His downfall, however, was his inconsistency and occasional poor decision making resulting in 13 interceptions. Leach grew frustrated with Halliday’s inability to grab hold of the quarterback job despite plenty of opportunities.

That left Halliday in a quarterback competition with redshirt freshman Austin Apodaca who has been putting a strong effort forward during the spring session. Apodaca has shown a good grasp of the offense and a fine playmaking ability during scrimmage situations. Halliday and Apodaca have been splitting reps evenly throughout the spring as Leach bides his time before making his final decision.

But it may be a matter of time before Halliday comes out on top. While he’s proven to be a volatile quarterback prone to mistakes, he does have a wealth of experience when compared to Apodaca. He’s shown excellent growth this spring and put it on display in the latest spring scrimmage. He completed 25 of 36 passes with three touchdown passes.

Apodaca, in turn, looked to be the young and inexperienced quarterback that one would expect from a freshman signal caller. While he threw for 228 yards and two touchdowns, he completed just 19-of-34 passes and had three interceptions. That is the same kind of inconsistent play that got Halliday in the dog house to begin with.

While Leach will not land on a signal caller for next season likely until fall camp, for now it appears that Halliday has the upper hand. Will he be able to control his wild play long enough to be named the starter for next season?

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