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CFN: Post-spring look at quarterback controversies

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Quarterback controversies — they're as much a part of the game as mascots, cheerleaders and tailgating. Fans love to discuss them. Coaches cringe at the very mention of the subject. Yet, with starting quarterbacks coming and going every couple of years, the topic is unavoidable. Heck, there's a reason why, in some cities, the backup quarterback is the most popular kid in town. So kick back, grab yourself a mint julep for this derby and take a gander as CollegefootballNews.com takes a look at how some of the key quarterback battles played out this spring. It's very early and precious little can be written in stone, but this should give you an idea of what to expect when summer camp rolls around. — What a mess. Dirk Koetter desperately needs a capable quarterback to run his complex offense and might not have one who's up to the task quite yet. No one stepped to the forefront this spring — transfer Andy Goodenough has been slow to grasp the system and has been less than impressive. That leaves redshirt freshman , a quick learner who appears poised to make a run at the starting job this summer. Arkansas — With , and all are competing for the job, Houston Nutt has yet to indicate who will get the nod when the season opens September 7. Jackson — a redshirt freshman — impressed with every chance he got in April. Jones, as expected, struggled throwing the ball but dazzled with his feet. Don't rule out a rotation similar to the one Nutt used last season.
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  • — Neither nor Daniel Cobb put much distance between the other this spring. Gee, that sounds a lot like last spring camp. Cobb finished strong and was named the offensive MVP of the spring game. While that bodes well for his chances in the fall, a starter won't be named until August. Like last season, both should get their share of snaps in the fall. BYU — Not much mystery here. A healthy looked sharp and pulled away from , and Matt Berry as spring camp came to a close. Engemann should be behind center when the Cougars entertain . — Remember the name . The big-time ECU recruit of 2001 emerged this spring as the Pirates' likely starter in the fall. The sophomore has all the skills to carry this offense and the tradition of fine ECU quarterbacks that began in the 1990's. will be his backup. — So who gets to replace ? Junior appears to have edged out , although both showed flashes during the spring. With the talent and coaching staff surrounding Grady in Fresno, he'll get an opportunity to make a name himself in a hurry, and his 19 of 26 for 219 yards and two touchdowns in the spring game already has Bulldog fans buzzing. or ? That'll be one of Chan Gailey's closest watched decisions in his first year with the Jackets. Following spring practice, the race is being dubbed "too close to call." Suggs has more experience, but Bilbo is a fantastic all-around athlete. Suggs will take a slight lead into the summer. — The decision on who'll be replacing will have to wait until August. Both and Iowa transfer Jon Beutjer played well this spring, preventing coach Ron Turner from naming a starter. Whatever the outcome at Camp Rantoul, it does appear the Illini offense will be in capable hands again this year. Ward is more accurate, while Beutjer has the cannon arm to get the ball downfield to the speedy Illini receiving corps. Iowa — Thanks to the continued development of , this tussle and controversy fizzled out. Banks had a brilliant spring camp and could burst on to the scene much like 's did last year. Nathan Chandler will serve as Banks' understudy. — After the past two springs, fans in Manhattan should have a renewed appreciation of Jonathan Beasley. The ongoing battle between and Ell Roberson will continue well into the summer since little was resolved in the spring. Coach Bill Snyder loves competition, and that's exactly what he's got. The saga continues as Snyder continues to say he'll go with the player who makes the least amount of mistakes. — Thanks to 's ACL injury, Nick Saban recently said he's considering signing a junior college quarterback this summer or having one walk on. Uh-oh. That leaves the Tigers thin behind center as Randall was competing with , who now isn't just the best option, but the only one. was running third when Randall was injured. — Poor . Just when it looked like he had positioned himself to win the quarterback derby, the kid severely injures his knee for the third time in his career. played well in April and has a decided advantage over JUCO transfer Orlando Evans to land the job. Michigan — Incumbent has left Wolverine fans and coaches pining for an upgrade. Enter , a transfer who spent last year on an LDS mission to South Africa. After struggling for much of the spring, Brinton still may be the starter. For now, Navarre is the man, but that could change in a heartbeat if Brinton can step up his play this summer. Don't be shocked if Navarre is holding a clipboard in September. — The future may be now in Columbia. At least that's what Gary Pinkel hinted toward when he pushed redshirt freshman ahead of last year's starter on the depth chart. It's still early and Pinkel went out of his way to say that Smith hadn't won the spot yet. Could he have been trying to light a fire under Farmer? North Carolina — This may have been a non-issue had not surprised the school with his desire to transfer. Durant has since changed his mind and now finds himself in a battle to unseat Florida transfer C.J. Stephens. Stephens has impressed the coaches with his precise passing and will take a slight lead over Durant who John Bunting said will "compete for the job." Durant's just rusty and should be the No. 1 signal caller by the fall. — Randy Walker hasn't made anything official, but redshirt freshman looks to be at the top of a quartet that includes Bret Basanez, Alexander Webb and . Stauss has taken the most snaps with the first unit over the past few weeks and has earned praise from the coaching staff. — Tyrone Willingham would like you to believe that and are locked in a dead heat. Don't believe the rhetoric. This looks like Holiday's job to lose. He has the stronger arm, is easily the better athlete and flat out has the greater upside. Of course, that's not to say that Holiday doesn't have strides to make. and fought all spring for the No. 1 spot, but neither impressed enough to be declared the victor by head coach Jim Tressel. The competition will continue in August when blue-chip recruit Justin Zwick of Massillon could join the mix. Oklahoma — Assuming he's fully rehabilitated from last year's injury, is projected as the Sooners starter when the season opens. Although he didn't participate in contact drills, White looked sharp during the spring. is challenging for No. 2 on the depth chart as both had solid spring camps. Oregon — Worry not Duck fans, will not disappoint you. Fife had a nice spring and looks ready to do what Harrington did when Akili Smith left Eugene. With Mike Bellotti at the helm and loads of speed at the skill positions, anything less would be a surprise. Kellen Clemens will serve as the backup. — Fleet-footed is the top candidate to lead the Panther offense this fall. Walt Harris believes he should be the starter but wants him to improve his passing skills and limit the turnovers. Barring a meltdown, figure Harris to tab Rutherford in August with as his backup. — When the post spring two-deep was released by Lou Holtz, was listed as the starter with as his backup. Jenkins enjoyed a standout spring game and could be one of the more fun players to watch in 2002. Southern Miss — It'll be , Mickey D'Angelo and in a 3-horse race to determine Jeff Kelly's successor. Each got time with the first unit with White and D'Angelo shining in the spring game. White was Kelly's backup in each of the last two seasons so his knowledge of the offense gives him the upper hand. TCU' decision in January to transfer from the school was a boon to the career of . The senior solidified his position atop the depth chart with a solid spring. Talented, but young will wait in the wings for his chance to show why he was one of the top quarterbacks in Texas in 2000. — The competition here is essentially down to two players — senior and redshirt freshman Brian Gradkowski. Head coach Tom Amstutz stated after the spring game that Jones would be the starter if the season began today but was quick to point out that that doesn't guarantee he'll start the opener. — Sophomore took a big step this spring in locking up the role of Rich Rodriguez's triggerman. Marshall continues to look more comfortable with the offense and was nearly flawless in the spring game, and Rodriguez has gone out of his way to praise Marshall. Danny Embrick — who also played well — will be the No. 2 man.
    Tagged: Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Maryland, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Ohio State, Northwestern, Marshall, Toledo, Arizona, Arizona State, Stanford, Washington State, Oregon, Florida, LSU, Auburn, Arkansas, South Carolina, Texas Christian, Fresno State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas State, Kansas, Iowa State, Texas, Southern Mississippi, East Carolina, Houston, Brigham Young, New Mexico, San Diego State, Kurt Kittner, David Carr

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