Big 12 coaches each assess QB situation ahead of fall camp
FRISCO, Texas – The reputation of the Big 12 has revolved heavily around the respective offenses of its teams for years, but the story might be different this season. That’s not to say that defenses around the league are going to change the narrative in the fall, but several top programs are heading into preseason camps with new or unsettled quarterback situations. The coaches at Big 12 Media Days were grilled about it this week, and they did their best to shed a little light on where things stand.
Matt Rhule: "The key is to keep Charlie continuing to be the guy that's laughing at me in the huddle, telling me to calm down. He's a true freshman telling me to calm down in the middle of a game. He's got that to him. He's got that "it" factor to him. He needs to grow as a passer while at the same time keeping his energy. And he has some threats behind him. Jalan McClendon came in behind him, had some great moments at NC State. Gerry Bohanon came in this spring and whenever he is ready he's going to be a tremendous force in college football - great person, great athlete, great arm."
Senior quarterback Kyle Kempt is set to resume starting duties after coming in midway through last season to do so.
Matt Campbell: "Kyle always prepared as if he was the starting quarterback. His preparation in detail was elite. I think that's why he had success and stepped in as a starter and I think it's what has allowed him to continue to have success through the rest of the last season. I think that's also the reason for me that it was exciting to be able to get Kyle to come back that he was announced that he was going to get a sixth year, knowing someone who represented the game of football the way Kyle does and how trusted he was by his teammates because of the work ethic. I think that was huge for Iowa State football and for our program going forward."
The position is still wide-open for someone to step in and win for the Jayhawks.
David Beatty: "Peyton Bender started the season, went down with an injury. Carter Stanley came in, played a few games and he went down with an injury and Peyton was well enough to come back and play in the final game. We have signed Miles Kendrick out of San Mateo, who has been a great addition to that room, but we're going to narrow it down to two pretty quick and our guys understand that there is an urgency to get yourself into the top two, but we're going to prepare all three because it's a rough-and-tumble league for quarterbacks. But we would like it get it down to 'the guy' pretty quickly. I'm not going to give a timeline, but we want to get it done pretty quickly."
Bill Snyder: "I thought this was a great opportunity to imply some preseason pressure, so you've got to practice the things you're going to experience - so there is a little bit of pressure in them being here … They're both very competitive young guys who are competing. One is a captain, one is a co-captain. They have both stepped up and provided excellent leadership during the course of the summer workout programs, which is extremely important. The demanding-type leadership ... is necessary because coaches can't be involved in their practices, so they have to be part of the leadership that takes place. Both of them have done that. Both of them are just very, very capable young guys, and as I said they're still in extreme competition for the starting position. I don't know what else to tell you."
Lincoln Riley: "Kyler is not the quarterback yet. There is good competition going on, and Kyler is going to have to fight like crazy to win this job. It's a different competition. It's very different. Both have been Baker's backups in the last two years and they've been in multiple years and they're both ready to be the starting quarterback at Oklahoma. First things first. He's got to win that job and whoever wins it, whether it's Austin Kendall or Kyler Murray, it will be different, no question. They have different skill sets than Baker. There are some things that Baker did better than these guys and things that these guys do better than Baker did. … I think the most important thing - or at least most important thing early for us - is let's make sure we get the right guy, put them through this competition and test these guys."
Mike Gundy: "When we came out of spring we felt very comfortable with Taylor, so certainly going into August he's our guy. He's been with us a number of years. He understands our offense. We're confident in his abilities. Taylor is a very intelligent young man. He's very humble. He understands hard work. He's put his time and effort in. I would expect him to have had a really good summer and have done everything that Coach (Mike) Yurcich has asked him to do in bringing our team along in our summer workouts."
Gary Patterson: "Obviously, he's the guy that played the most games. He played in six, and obviously he started against Texas Tech, which was a hard place to play. He was able to win this last year. So obviously he's proven himself; he probably has the edge. Mike Collins, 6-5, got transferred out last year, a guy that can spin the ball, leader, great kid. And then you have Justin Rogers that was one of the best players in the state of Louisiana that came in in January, and then you have Grayson Muehlstein that's a fifth-year senior, probably top-to-bottom, depth-chart wise, the best we've seen. But you've listened to me before. I don't judge quarterbacks in practice or stats, anything else. I judge 'em on Saturdays."
Tom Herman: "I feel like the two older guys in Buechele and Ehlinger really improved like we asked them to. With Sam, it was tightening his release up a little bit … He worked his tail off and he made some throws this spring that I hadn't seen him make in the year that we have been around him. For Shane, it was to take charge of the offense, to be a vocal leader and to not just be a passive participant in each play but to be the - as I tell him: 'You're not the third- string violinist. You are a conductor of the orchestra.' And he really improved in that area … Cameron Rising can throw a lot better and move around better than people think, and to be honest with you, Casey Thompson can throw the ball quite a bit better than people think. I tell you what, it beats having a quarterback room with two scholarship players going through the entire season and for much of the season one of those being injured and out of the game."
The Red Raiders are looking for the successor to last year’s graduated starter, Nic Shimonek.
Kliff Kingsbury: "We have three guys, all very talented, they're inexperienced players: McLane Carter, Jett Duffey and Alan Bowman. Each athletic, can extend plays, can do what we want them to do. We just gotta figure out who is going to extend themselves and be the guy. This is the first fall camp I don't know who it's going to be, so working with the quarterbacks, it's exciting, it's a challenge and we're fired up to see who steps up during the competition and separates themselves."
Will Grier returns as starting quarterback and a potential Heisman Trophy candidate.
Dana Holgorsen: "Will is an ... older, mature coach's kid. I've made this comment several times. He's ready for this, he's prepared himself his whole life for us and you will see as you talk to him throughout the course of the day, I've got no worries about him not understanding expectations and how to deal with expectations. … You can tell in spring practice that the game has slowed down for him. So he's a cerebral kid and understands what's out there and what he's got to do. He knows that he's got a lot of good players around him and he doesn't have to go out there and be Superman. He can manage the game himself and run the offense, which he is more comfortable doing now than he was a year ago."