Coy Wire: The winner of the Arizona QB derby will be ...
MAY 02, 2014 5:04p ET
Note: Coy Wire played college football at Stanford before a nine-year NFL career in Buffalo and Atlanta. He's currently a college football analyst for FOX Sports 1 and writes for FOXSports.com. This is an excerpt from the article, QB battles: Picking winners for LSU, Texas, Alabama and others.
Believe it or not, Arizona is the only Pac-12 school that doesn't return its starting quarterback from 2013. In fact, this will be the third time in three seasons that Arizona will have a new starter at the position. It makes the numbers the Wildcats have put up in Rich Rodriguez's dynamic offense the past couple of seasons that much more impressive.
Jesse Scroggins, the fifth-year senior who started his collegiate football journey at USC, had the opportunity to earn the starting job last year over B.J. Denker but fell short. With a noticeably higher level of focus and discipline, it appears Scroggins is now earning the opportunity to start.
"Jesse knows it's his time to step up," co-offensive coordinator Rod Smith, who's known Rodriguez for more than 20 years and played QB for him at Glenville State, told me. "Is he ready? Not yet, but he made huge strides. Through the whole spring, the one guy that made that big push was Jesse. He proved that he belonged."
The quarterback position is demanding in Tucson. It is extremely timing-oriented when it comes to footwork and fundamentals, and a firm grasp of the scheme is paramount. Smith said, "There are so many options that one play can hold, so you need a guy that's smart -- cerebral -- who can make quick decisions. On every play, our kid is reading somebody on the defense and he needs to make the decision to hand it off, or pull it then run, or pull it then throw. All this has to be determined quickly."
Scroggins is a big kid (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) with more than enough talent to be productive for the 'Cats this season.
"He has always had the talent," Smith said. "He just needed to get the offense down. He has tons of arm talent -- an NFL-type arm."
Scroggins may not be as elusive of a runner as some of the other contenders -- which is important in Arizona's scheme -- but Smith noted that he has enough mobility to be effective in the Wildcats' zone read. While going with Scroggins would mean RichRod would have another new QB next season, I think he's the guy who gives Arizona the best chance to win in 2014.
A few notes on the other candidates:
Randall transferred to Arizona in the spring after two seasons at LSU and a 2013 campaign at Northeast Mississippi Community College. Athletically, he has everything you could want in someone operating an up-tempo read-option scheme, but he could benefit from more time to develop.
"Jerrard might be the most talented kid of all of them," Smith told me. "He can run and has a cannon for an arm. [He's] still learning -- swimming a bit -- but once he has it all figured out, he's going to be special. He reminds you of a Denard Robinson but bigger. He's not as fast, but he has that type of elusiveness and throws it better."
Solomon also offers intriguing athleticism, and he'll be a dynamic playmaker when he learns how to flip the switch from his natural laid-back demeanor when it's time to compete. "He's a guy with a lot of ability who led his teams at Bishop Gorman High School to a 57-3 record and won four state titles -- he's just a winner," Smith said. "We are really excited about him."
Brewer, who was a high school standout at Scottsdale Chaparral, transferred to Arizona from Texas before last season. He doesn't stand out athletically compared to the other names here, but Brewer brings some intangibles along with a skill set that Smith likes. "He is very smart and very heady," Smith said. "He is very accurate as a passer. I think he's still learning, but he's coming into his own and has his best ball ahead of him."