Breaking Down Every AAC Football Team's QB Situation Heading into 2014

Breaking Down Every AAC Team's QB Situation Heading into 2014

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Thomas Campbell - USA Today Sports

A dark horse Heisman candidate, a team that doesn't have a quarterback with game experience and a bunch of teams in between looking for a quarterback to stand out and win the starting job: These are just a few of the storylines of in the American Athletic Conference as teams head into the 2014 season. Fortunately some teams have already named their starters, but others won't know who will lead them under center until the season starts -- if then.

11. Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Dane Evans Tulsa
Beth Hall - USA Today Sports

11. Tulsa Golden Hurricane

Dane Evans QB Tulsa
Beth Hall - USA Today Sports

Head Coach Bill Blankenship is in the precarious position of having to go with who he has on the roster at quarterback -- which isn't much. Returner Dane Evans has done some good things during spring practice, but is that enough to translate into wins in 2014? The sophomore must complete better than the 43 percent with 898 yards and 10 interceptions from last season. If not, this will be a rough first year in the AAC for the Golden Hurricane.

10. Cincinnati Bearcats

Gunner Kiel QB Cincinnati
Matt Cashore - USA Today Sports

10. Cincinnati Bearcats

Gunner Kiel QB Cincinnati
Matt Cashore - USA Today Sports

Head coach Tommy Tuberville is going into 2014 with two quarterbacks who have never taken a game snap for the Bearcats. One is former five-star recruit, but well traveled, Gunner Kiel, and the other is JUCO transfer Jarred Evans. Both played well in the spring game, but given the fact he has a season in the program under his belt and the stronger arm of the two, the job is Kiel's to lose.

9. UCF Knights

Justin Holman QB UCF
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9. UCF Knights

Justin Holman QB UCF
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The departure of Blake Bortles leaves a void at quarterback for the UCF that head coach George O'Leary initially thought would be addressed shortly after the spring game -- he has since decided against it. This proves that while sophomore Justin Holman is the most experienced of the options, O'Leary saw enough in redshirt freshman Pete DiNovo and early enrollee Tyler Harris to let things play out into the fall.

8. Tulane Green Wave

Nick Montana QB Tulane
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8. Tulane Green Wave

Nick montana QB Tulane
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It's a three man race coming out of spring practices led by redshirt freshman Tanner Lee, but former starters senior Nick Montana and sophomore Curtis Powell are not too far behind. Head coach Curtis Johnson could stick with Lee just to spark the mildly inconsistent offense led by the incumbents. The bigger issue coming out of New Orleans is the lack of depth everywhere else that slowed the development of all three quarterbacks during the spring.

7. SMU Mustangs

Neal Burcham SMU
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7. SMU Mustangs

Neal burcham SMU
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Head coach June Jones is known for being the quarterback guru, and his next project is redshirt sophomore Neal Burcham. The former Elite 11 MVP passed for 538 yards and two touchdowns after senior starter Garrett Gilbert went down with a knee injury in 2013. Gilbert had his most productive season under Jones' tutelage after transferring from Texas, and Mustang fans are hoping for the same type of growth from Burcham.

6. USF Bulls

Mike White USF
Thomas Campbell - USA Today Sports

6. USF Bulls

Mike White USF
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The Bulls finished 2013 with freshman Mike White as the starter, and while he finished the season with 1083 yards, he also had 9 interceptions. His main competition is redshirt junior Steven Bench who lost the starting position due to injury. Based on his performance from the spring game -- 317 yards and 3 touchdowns -- Bench should get the nod to start against Western Carolina, but if he is inconsistent look for White to replace him quickly.

5. UConn Huskies

Casey Cochran UConn
David Butler II - USA Today Sports

5. UConn Huskies

Casey Cochran UConn
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Even though Casey Cochran finished the season as the Huskies' leader in passing yards (1293) and touchdowns (11), first year head coach Bob Diaco has made the starting QB position an open competition. Senior Chandler Whitmer took the majority of the snaps during the recent Huskies spring game but no starter has been named yet.

4. Memphis Tigers

Paxon Lynch Memphis
David Butler II - USA Today Sports

4. Memphis Tigers

Paxton Lynch Memphis
David Butler II - USA Today Sports

It looks as if redshirt sophomore Paxton Lynch benefited from the 2013 "baptism by fire" season. He cemented his starting spot by going 17-of-20 for 200 yards in the recent Tigers spring game and showed a lot of poise by connecting with seven different receivers in the process. Battling for the backup position are four others including JUCO transfer Jason Stewart.

3. Temple Owls

PJ Walker Temple
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3. Temple Owls

PJ Walker  Temple
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Walker was inserted into the starting lineup after starter Connor Reilly struggled during the first four games of the season. While the Owls only won two of their next seven games, Walker showed glimpses of how talented the Elizabeth NJ star could be by throwing for at least 200 yards in each of those contests. Walker is entrenched as the starter but having Reilly as his backup should give second year head coach Matt Rhule confidence in the position.

2. Houston Cougars

John O'Korn Houston
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2. Houston Cougars

John O'Korn Houston
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After David Piland was injured, John O'Korn, a Ft. Lauderdale Fl. native, stepped in and played like an experienced veteran, leading the Cougars to an 8-5 record and a berth in the BBVA Compass Bowl last season -- he passed for 3,117 yards and 28 TDs. If for some reason he has a sophomore slump, the Cougars have two former JUCO quarterbacks, Billy Cosh and Hunter McCoy, waiting in the wings to replace him.

1. East Carolina Pirates

shane Carden East Carolina
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1. East Carolina Pirates

Shane Carden East Carolina
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The Pirates are led by senior Shane Carden who passed for 4,139 yards with 33 touchdowns last season and is a dark horse Heisman candidate for the 2014 season. In three games against Virginia Tech, NC State and UNC he went 2-1, passed for 789 yards and seven touchdowns. The Pirates will need those big game results again this year if they plan on living up to the hype of being the favorite to win the conference in their first season.