2013 Pac 12 Preseason Quarterback Rankings
2013 Pac 12 Preseason Quarterback Rankings
The Pac 12 has long been known as a league built on potent offenses and that doesn’t look to change in 2013. Up and down the conference, you see offenses that will pick up the pace, punch you in the face or air it out over your head to put up points in a hurry. To get this done, all of them rely heavily on the quarterback position and some programs are set up better than others.
Many Pac 12 programs found their quarterbacks of the future in 2012 with four quarterbacks enjoying breakout seasons as freshman or sophomores. This year, there are plenty of familiar faces coming back to build on their campaigns from last season and a few teams looking to break in a new signal caller. Three teams will be turning to a new quarterback next fall, though none of them have settled on who exactly it will be.
The quarterbacks in the Pac 12 conference represent a diverse group that can win in a multitude of ways. There are runners, there are big arms, there are gunslingers and there are guys who just know how to win. Their ability to get the job done will undoubtedly be tested as the Pac 12 looks to be as competitive as ever in 2013.
Which of them will rise to the challenge and lead their programs to the top? Who can put their team in their backs and carry them all the way to the Rose Bowl to represent the conference in the Granddaddy of them all? Without further ado, let’s rank the starting quarterbacks of the Pac 12 conference for 2013.
12. Connor Wood, Colorado Buffaloes
Wood will likely win the job in the fall and is by far the most experienced signal caller on Colorado’s roster. That experience hasn’t been all that impressive, however, so Wood needs to step things up in 2013. If he can tap into the potential that got him originally signed by the Texas Longhorns, he should have a pretty good season. The trick will be getting him comfortable and confident early in Mike MacIntyre’s new offense. Getting Paul Richardson back at wide receiver certainly won’t hurt.
11. Travis Wilson, Utah Utes
Wilson got thrown into the deep end earlier than expected thanks to injuries and struggled a big for Utah down the stretch. He has a new co-offensive coordinator in Dennis Erickson who will likely air the ball out more in 2013, so Wilson must show he has learned from his freshman blunders and can lead the Utes in his sophomore season. Getting a firm grasp of the offense early will be key to building his confidence.
10. B.J. Denker/Jesse Scroggins/Anu Solomon, Arizona Wildcats
Rich Rodriguez has plenty of options to choose from for his quarterback in 2013. Will he go with the backup from 2012, B.J. Denker who saw limited playing time last season? Or perhaps USC Trojans transfer Jesse Scroggins is the man for the job? Could incoming freshman Anu Solomon make an early splash, maybe? Whoever wins out the job will not have the benefit of a deep receiving corps which has been gutted by injuries and defection, most notably Austin Hill. At least they’ll have a dynamic running game to back them up as they get their feet underneath them.
9. Zach Kline, Cal Bears
Kline appears to be the heir apparent for the quarterback job in 2013, but new head coach Sonny Dykes isn’t ready to anoint him just yet. He failed to really distinguish himself during spring practice so he still has plenty to prove when fall camp opens. If he can hold onto the job, he will have plenty of weapons to work with in the new Bears’ offense which should give him plenty of opportunities to put up big numbers next fall.
8. Connor Halliday, Washington State Cougars
After splitting starting reps in 2012 and being unable to grab hold of the quarterback position last season, Halliday returns as the front runner to handle the WSU offense in 2013. He has the arm and the confidence to flourish as a gun-slinger in Mike Leach’s wide open offense and has an excellent young group of receivers to throw to. He will need to play smarter, however, next season and cut down on the turnovers if the Cougars hope to go anywhere next fall.
7. Max Wittek/Cody Kessler, USC Trojans
Wittek has the game experience (however underwhelming it was) and a big arm, but Kessler had the better spring. The pair of them will continue to compete through fall camp to decide who will follow Matt Barkley under center for the Trojans. Whoever wins out should not have any trouble finding receivers to throw to, especially with defending Biletnikoff Award winner Marqise Lee on the outside. Whoever Lane Kiffin picks as his next quarterback will undoubtedly put up good numbers next season, they just have to win the job this fall first.
6. Sean Mannion/Cody Vaz, Oregon State Beavers
Mike Riley is stuck in a back-and-forth between Mannion and Vaz this offseason. It’s the same back-and-forth that seemed to de-rail the Beavers in 2012, so the first order of business this fall should be to pick a quarterback and stick with it. Mannion has the bigger arm and better upside and was named a captain, giving him a slight edge (maybe). Whichever quarterback wins out will have a strong running game, solid offensive line and explosive receiving corps to work with, so production won’t be an issue next fall.
5. Keith Price, Washington Huskies
Price took a step backwards in 2012, thanks in part to injuries and an ineffective offensive line in front of him. The line should be better and there are weapons at every level to take the pressure off Price in 2013 so that he can return to the form that made him a Heisman Trophy darkhorse before last season. Steve Sarkisian would like to pick up the pace and if Price can handle that it should create a more potent offensive attack that will put up yards and points in bunches.
4. Kevin Hogan, Stanford Cardinal
All he did was win in 2012, taking over midseason and leading Stanford to a win in Autzen Stadium, a Pac 12 title and a Rose Bowl win. Now, Hogan has to show that he can do it as the leader of the offense. The running game will most likely lose a step as they try and replace Stepfan Taylor and there won’t be much in the way of a security blanket in the receiving corps after the Cardinal’s top three pass-catchers moved on this offseason. That puts pressure on Hogan to step up his game, both as a quarterback and a leader. If he can, Stanford will be in good shape to defend their conference title.
3. Brett Hundley, UCLA Bruins
Hundley broke out in 2012 as a dynamic playmaker as he finished second in the conference and 23rd in the nation in total offense. More of the offense will be run through him in 2013 as he continues to improve his grasp of the playbook. He will need to play smarter next season and learn to throw the football away, avoiding taking so many sacks and saving his body for when the plays are there to be made. If he can keep himself from trying to do too much on every play, Hundley will challenge for the title of best quarterback in the conference.
2. Taylor Kelly, Arizona State Sun Devils
Kelly came out of nowhere to win the starting job for ASU last season and ran with it. He finished second in the conference and ninth in the nation in passing efficiency in his first season as a starting quarterback and looks to do even more during his second run through the conference. Now that he has the confidence of his coach and the benefit of a strong running game behind him, look for Kelly to take the next step in 2013.
1. Marcus Mariota, Oregon Ducks
Mariota burst onto the scene last year and had arguably the second-best season of a redshirt freshman quarterback in 2012 (thanks Johnny Manziel). He returns for his sophomore season with more weapons around him, a better command of the offense and a coach that will put the ball in his hands more often. If he can stay in games past halftime in 2013, Mariota could make a strong push for the Heisman Trophy and solidify himself as the top quarterback in the Pac 12.