The best QBs in the Pac-10
Updated 18 April 2010
Although the Pac-10 featured some potent running
backs last season, a number of gifted quarterbacks are looking to
reaffirm their national credentials in 2010, among them being Jake
Locker of Washington and Andrew Luck of Stanford. Here's how we rate
the signal callers, from top to bottom.
1. Jake Locker, 6-3, 230,
5th year senior, Washington
Locker has the proverbial cannon of an
arm, along with an ability to impersonate at times -- if the coaches
will let him -- a bullish, swift running back, who has a juke or two in
his arsenal to
befuddle a defender. Over his career at Washington, he has made steady improvement
in his throwing mechanics and looks to connect on 60% or more of his
passes this year.
If Locker's cannon were a heat-seeking
missile, it'd be a sure bet to bring down a Scud. His character and persona serve
as a role model for young and old alike, which attest to his upbringing.
I won't toss in other superlatives,
lest you call me a homer; instead, I'll let Mel Kiper, ESPN draft
expert, do the talking. He recently said,
"If you had to ask me
right now who is going to be the number one pick in the 2011 draft, I
would say it's etched in stone it's going to be Jake Locker.'' You can
mark that down. Jake Locker, if he's not the number one pick, it's an
season, Locker led the conference in total offense, averaging 265.7
yards per game. He finished fourth in pass efficiency, posting a rating
of 130.1, and second in passing average per game with a 233.3 YPG
average; he rushed for 388 total yards.
Washington's only experienced backups, quarterback Ronnie Fouch out of
Riverside County, has transferred from school, as has walk-on QB Taylor
Bean, who played two games in the 2008 season. That leaves redshirt
freshman Keith Price and true freshman Nick Montana to fill in for
Locker should he suffer injury.
career, he's missed playing in 10 out of a possible 37 games if you
count half of two games he played in as one: Oregon State in 2007 and
Stanford in 2008. That is, he's missed playing in 27% of the games over
his career at Washington due to injuries. As he did last year -- in a
remarkable 5-7 season -- Locker needs to stay healthy in 2010;
otherwise, the Huskies' chances for post-season play will be as slim as
a software engineer's in successfully debugging a non-reproducible error
occurring in an automobile's electronics throttle control system.
According to Bob
Condotta's unofficial stats, taken from the first spring scrimmage held
on April 10, the three
quarterbacks performed as follows: Passing: Locker 3-6, 70, 1 TD; Keith
Price 5-7-27; Nick Montana 4-8-36 (there were no
interceptions). These numbers translate to the following passing
efficiencies: Locker (203.0), Price (103.83), and Montana (87.8).
2. Andrew Luck, 6-4, 234,
redshirt sophomore, Stanford
In 2009 Luck led the conference
in passing efficiency, posting an impressive 143.5 rating. He was second
in the Pac-10 in total offense, with an average of 244.1 ypg.
Luck underwent surgery to a
finger on his right, throwing hand for an injury he sustained during a
45-38 victory over
Notre Dame, Stanford's last regular-season game in 2009.
In the same interview, the one about
Locker, Kiper said that
had the potential to join Locker at the top of the draft should he
declare. He'll be a third-year sophomore next season and eligible to
declare. "If he plays to the level of what we expect to see based on how
he performed this year for
Jim Harbaugh, Andrew Luck
comes out early and he's the second, third or fourth pick overall,''
Luck is backed up by
(6-3, 224, redshirt freshman) and Josh Nunes (6-4, 216, Sophomore). So
far in spring practices, Picazo has had the edge on Nunes; however,
neither backup has "arrived" as yet, according to Harbaugh.
As if it were dripping hot tallow,
neither of them can hold a candle to Luck, who is throwing effortlessly
this spring, with mechanics that produce hard, accurate passes.
Update (4/17): In the spring game,
Luck, who played for the Cardinal team, completed 23 of 34 passes for
173 yards. Backup quarterbacks Josh Nunes and Robbie Picazo split time
with the White team. Nunes was 7 of 12 for 61 yards while Picazo was 7
of 9 for 78. Nary a TD pass was thrown.
"Overall, I thought it was a good performance even
though the scoreboard didn't show it," Luck said.
Barkley, 6-2, 230, Sophomore, USC
In the Pac-10, Barkley finished
third in pass efficiency last season, with a rating of 131.3. With
an average of 227.9 yards, he finished third in passing yards per game;
he finished fifth in total offense, losing 38 yards rushing.
Barkley, as a true freshman,
started 12 games last season but missed the game with Washington due to
injury. He had wrist surgery in January and is participating in
spring practice. In a release, USC described the procedure on his wrist
as "minor" and said it was done to "relieve stiffness and clean up
Last Saturday, in a spring
scrimmage, Barkley completed nine of 17 passes for 173 yards and three
touchdowns with no interceptions, all of which translate to a PE of
Update (4/18): In USC's second
scrimmage, Barkley was 21of 30 for 291 yards and five touchdowns. His
record this spring: 30 of 47 for 464 and 8 touchdowns, which computes to
a PE of 202.93.
Mustain (6-3, 200, Senior) looks to bail Barkely out should he
suffer injury or some other misfortune. Over his career at USC, Mustain has thrown 148 passes and completed 80, for a 54% completion
Riley, 6-2, 221, Senior, California
Riley started all 13 games for
Cal in 2009, leading the Bears to an 8-5 season.
Riley was fourth in the
conference in passing yards per game, sixth in passing efficiency, and
sixth in total offense. He gained 51 yards on the ground, showing a
touch of mobility.
According to an article over at CalSportsDigest.com, this spring, "The quarterback position is the one
that is most in need of improvement, and Kevin Riley will have to fight
to retain his No. 1 spot in competition with No. 2 quarterback
and No. 3 Brock Mansion. Even if
Riley wins that battle as expected, he needs to improve his mechanics
and his ability to perform in the face of a pass rush."
Commenting on the quarterback competition after Saturday's scrimmage,
head coach Jeff Tedford was quoted as saying, “That’s probably what
separates (Riley) from the other two, his experience. Those two guys
took sacks when they shouldn’t. Instead of him running around and then
falling on the ball, (Riley) just gets rid of it. Experience is paying
off for him right now.”
(11/18): Scrimmage: Riley 11 of 16 for 125 yards; Sweeney 5 of 14 for 85
yards and a touchdown, a 60 yarder. Mansion sprained foot, did not play.
Nick Foles, 6-5, 235, Junior,
season, in a game against Washington, Foles was intercepted in
spectacular fashion by linebacker Mason Foster, which led to a Huskies'
victory and the pun in our headline the next day, "Foster's 'Pick-Nick' by the lake."
so "Punny," Foles torched UW for 384 yards passing, completing 73.6% of
his passes, this in his best outing of the year.
Pacific Life Holiday Bowl against Nebraska, however,
Foles was disappointing, going 9 for 29 and 48 yards in a 33-0 loss. The
Cornhuskers visit Seattle on September 18,
in a what should be a defensive/offensive collision.
season in the conference, Foles finished sixth in passing average per
game, seventh in passing efficiency, and eighth in total offense. He
lost 73 yards rushing, which speaks, somewhat, for his mobility.
backed up by Matt Scott, who
played in 9 games last season, completing 41 of 73 passes for 441 yards.
His passing efficiency rating wasn't anything to write home about:
103.21. However, Scott gives the Wildcats the option of extending their
offense, having rushed for 309 yards in 2K9.
(4/18): Spring game: Scott 16-21-238, 2 TD,
INT; Foles 7-14-74, 2 INT; Bryson Beirne 8-12-89, TD.
6. Kevin Prince,
6-2, 219, Sophomore, UCLA
As a redshirt freshman, Prince played in 11 games last
season, on a 7-6 Bruins' record.
In the second game of the season
against Tennessee, which the Bruins won, Prince rolled to his right on a
surprise naked bootleg with time running out and was clobbered in the
end zone by defensive back Dennis Rogan for a safety, suffering a broken
jaw that required surgery. He missed the next two games.
Later in the season, he suffered
a right shoulder sprain that knocked him from the Bruins' 28-7 loss to
USC on the series before he had a second pass intercepted.
This spring Prince is healthy,
both running and throwing the ball well out of the Pistol formation.
On the Pistol, Coach Rick
Neuheisel says, "We had that formation a year ago; we're just diving
into some things other teams across the country have tried. We're doing
everything we can to improve the running game. It gives the defense some
more things to do and it allows the quarterback to be in a run formation
that's also a ready-made throw formation, so that he can survey the
field and decide what's best for us."
In the Pac-10 last season,
Prince was eighth in passing yards per game, eighth in passing
efficiency, and seventh in total offense. He ran for 179 yards.
In a 75-play scrimmage on
Sunday, operating primarily out of the Pistol, Prince completed 8 of 9
passes for 84 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 13 yards on five
carries. Out of the Pistol, the quarterback is situated four yards behind center
instead of the typical seven yards in the shotgun. The running back
lines up three yards directly behind the quarterback or seven yards
behind the center. Reportedly, the "UCLA
offense struggled at first but found a tempo later."
is athletic enough to play out of the Pistol. He appeared in six games
last season, completing 11 of 17 passes for 124 yards, with a rating of
In the same scrimmage, Brehaut went 3 of 11 for 21 yards.
Update (4/18): Second scrimmage:
Prince was 7 of 11 for 87 yards and 1 touchdown. Brehaut 11 of 17 for
106 yards and 2 touchdowns. Combined scrimmages: Prince 15 out of 20 for
171 yards and 3 touchdowns; Brehaut 14 of 28 for 127 yards and 3
Costa, 6-1, 215, Senior, Oregon
Costa played in four games last
season, throwing 33 times and completing 20 passes for 197 yards, with
an efficiency rating of 114.69.
Against Washington last season,
for a two-point conversion as well as picking up 7 yards on a fake field
goal for a first down.
named the starting quarterback in the 2008 fall camp before suffering
torn knee ligaments less than two weeks before the season opener. He was
sidelined the entire year while rehabilitating from his second major
surgery in as many years.
spring, he's battling Darron Thomas for the
starter's job. Thomas (6-3, 200, Junior) played in the 2008 season,
completing 16 of 33 passes for 268 yards, with an efficiency rating of
ESPN blogger Ted Miller had this to say about the competition,
"Costa clearly knows the offense and seems confident
running it. He also appears to be regaining confidence in his knees,
despite three surgeries. He showed some nice quickness both scrambling
and running the spread option. Thomas has a lot of skill and upside as a
runner and passer. He does, however, tend to lock on his intended
receiver, which led to a couple of picks Friday (April 9)."
After that scrimmage, Mark
Helfrich, the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, said that
both quarterbacks are practicing well, and that “Darron’s improving a
lot, and Nate has continued to do good things.’’
Whoever is named as starter
should have a productive season, considering Oregon's high-octane
Katz, 6-1, 205, Sophomore, OSU
Peter Lalich (6-4, 226, Senior) for the starters' job this spring,
Katz is the odds on favorite. Katz appeared in three games last year,
completing 14 of 37 passes for 232 yards and a rating of 136.26.
Lalich didn't play last year but
made appearances in the two preceding seasons, accumulating the
following record: 74 of 135 for 680 yards, with 2 touchdowns and 4 picks
and a PE of 96.09.
Commenting on Ted Miller's rant
vis-à-vis Jake Locker's performance this spring, Paul
Buker of the Oregonian wrote, "I get that somebody was trying to
make a point - Locker is really, really good - but I chuckled because
there is a quarterback 4 1/2 hours down I-5 (OK, and turn right at
Highway 34) who can make that same play, and do it quite effortlessly.
That would be projected OSU starter (Nolan) Ryan Katz, who Miller
will eyeball today."
9. Brock Osweiler, 6-8,
237, Sophomore, Arizona State
Osweiler appeared in six games in 2009, completing
24 of 55 passes for 249 yards and a PE of 86.39. ASU went 4-8 last
Osweiler is contending with
Steven Threet for the number-one signal caller's job. In 2008,
Threet, who didn't play last season, posted a record of 102 out of 200
passes for 1105 yards and a PE of 105.26.
In last Saturday's scrimmage,
Osweiler posted a PE of 139.15, based on completing 14 of 26 passes for
170 yards, three touchdowns and a pick. Two weeks into spring practice,
he appears to have the edge in the competition with Threet.
10. Jeff Tuel,
6-3, 207, Sophomore, WSU
Tuel appeared in six games last
season, including five starts, for a team that went 1-11 on the year. He completed 71 out of 121
passes for 789 yards and posted a PE of 121.55, which is not too shabby,
considering his team's record. In the game
against Arizona, Tuel suffered a dislocated knee cap that sidelined him
for the rest of the season.
This spring, Tuel is competing
with Marshall Lobbestael for the number one
slot. Hampered by an off-season knee injury, Lobbestael competed in
eight games last season, starting three. He completed 67 of 144 passes
for 655 yards, and 3 touchdowns against 8 picks. His PE of 80.5 is about
what you'd expect from a QB playing for a 1-11 team. He posted a PE of
103.8 in the 2008 season.
Here are some unofficial passing
stats from Saturday's scrimmage: Jeff Tuel - 7/12/84/1/0; Marshall
Lobbestael - 8/11/71/1/1; David Gilbertson -