football Edit

College Fantasy Football: QB battles still being played out

Oklahoma QBs Kyler Murray, left, and Austin Kendall
Oklahoma QBs Kyler Murray, left, and Austin Kendall (AP Images)

There are some important quarterback battles still raging in fall camp, and things remain unsettled at some high-profile programs weeks before the first game. Below is a look at a half dozen of the most important QB competitions going on.

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  Alabama: Tua Tagovailoa or Jalen Hurts

Overview: Who doesn’t know the story here? Hurts is the Alabama quarterback who has a 26-2 record as the Crimson Tide starter, he’s thrown 40 touchdowns and rushed for another 21 in two seasons and might lose his job. After struggles in the national title game against Georgia last season, Tagovailoa replaced Hurts after halftime and led Alabama back with three second-half touchdown passes. It’s believed Tagovailoa has the slight edge but coach Nick Saban isn’t giving away too many hints.

Local view: “The word coming out of Alabama’s closed scrimmage ... is that Tua Tagovailoa stole the show, while Jalen Hurts struggled. Most reports had Tagovailoa ending the day with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Meanwhile, Hurts reportedly failed to find the end zone through the air and threw multiple interceptions. Despite the contrast in performance, Alabama head coach Nick Saban said the battle is still ongoing. 'Look, we're going to evaluate the quarterback situation,' Saban said following the scrimmage. 'We're going to keep looking at the guys. What somebody did today or didn't do today isn't going to win or lose them the job. It's going to be the cumulative effect and the consistency that they practice with and play with over time. That's in fairness to both players, who are really good competitors and really working hard, really doing a good job.'" - Tony Tsoukalas, BamaInsider.com

  Clemson: Kelly Bryant or Trevor Lawrence  

Overview: Lawrence, the top-rated prospect in the 2018 recruiting class, is Clemson’s future at quarterback, but Bryant is no slouch after posting 2,802 passing yards with 13 touchdowns and eight picks and also rushing for 11 scores last season. Bryant has been solid through fall camp - not giving an inch to Lawrence - but the five-star standout might be too special to keep on the sidelines for too long.

Local view: “Anyone wanting a definitive answer on this quarterback battle right now is going to be disappointed. Kelly Bryant ran away with the job early in camp a year ago, and surely some fans were hoping Trevor Lawrence would do the same this year. But Bryant has been really good so far, both through the air and on the ground. Our belief all along has been this battle will be settled during the season, and we've seen or heard nothing to amend that take. Lawrence is going to be hard to keep off the field, but so is Bryant.” - Larry Williams, TigerIllustrated.com

  Florida State: Deondre Francois or James Blackman  

Overview: A new coaching staff under coach Willie Taggart gives the quarterback competition a fresh set of eyes. Francois was injured in the season-opener last year and Blackman entered, going through some bumps but finishing with 2,230 passing yards, 19 TDs and 11 picks. This competition is far from settled, but Francois, who had some off-field issues in the spring, could be poised to return from injury and take over the Seminoles’ offense again after a forgettable 7-6 season.

Local view: “FSU hasn’t held a preseason scrimmage yet, so it’s still difficult to know who’s going to come out on top — junior Deondre Francois, sophomore James Blackman or redshirt freshman Bailey Hockman. All three have taken reps with the first-team offense and all have had good moments and bad. Francois appeared to be the most consistent in the first week of drills, but the other two still have plenty of time to win the job.” - Ira Schoffel, Warchant.com

  Nebraska: Adrian Martinez or Tristan Gebbia

Overview: One of the biggest decisions first-year coach Scott Frost has to make soon is whether to start redshirt freshman Tristan Gebbia or true freshman Adrian Martinez once the season starts against Akron on Sept. 1. Gebbia is probably the sharper passer at this stage, but Martinez is more athletic and more dynamic. With one of the best receivers in college football in Stanley Morgan Jr. and some other major playmakers in the Huskers’ offense, picking the right quarterback will be key.

Local view: “It's really a coin flip at this point, but most still believe Martinez has a very good chance to be the guy when it's all said and done. He's physically bigger than Gebbia and much more athletic. Gebbia would have the advantage with decision-making and in the throwing game.” - Sean Callahan, HuskerOnline.com

  Oklahoma: Kyler Murray or Austin Kendall  

Overview: The belief this offseason was that Kyler Murray would be the replacement for Baker Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick in April’s NFL Draft, but Austin Kendall pushed through the spring and there does not seem to be much separation in the final weeks before what could be a challenging season opener against Florida Atlantic. After being drafted ninth overall in the MLB draft by the Oakland Athletics, it’s expected Murray will play one season of college football before moving full-time to baseball. It’s believed he has a slight edge in this competition. A source close to the program told SoonerScoop’s Carey Murdock it was such a close competition during the first major scrimmage he could see both playing unless more separation is seen. That same source also told Murdock that Kendall continues to make impressive plays.

Local view: “The competition rolls on in Norman. Head coach Lincoln Riley was quick to say late last week Kyler Murray and Austin Kendall continue to push each other, which is what Riley wants more than anything right now. The favorite still appears to be Murray, but with two scrimmages this week, we should have a much better idea as OU gets ready for Florida Atlantic on Sept. 1.” - Bob Przybylo, SoonerScoop.com

Tennessee: Jarrett Guarantano or Keller Chryst 

Overview: The Tennessee quarterback situation remains unsettled - at least that's what first-year coach Jeremy Pruitt is telling the media. Jarrett Guarantano could have a slight edge, but Stanford transfer Keller Chryst, who is more comfortable running a traditional pro-style offense, is pushing as well. The Vols have some playmakers at receiver and tight end, but first a quarterback has to emerge to run the offense."

Local view: Tennessee completed its first preseason scrimmage about a week ago, and while Pruitt was coy on details, it’s clear that both Guarantano and Chryst need to raise their play before the start of the season. Pruitt lamented turnovers and timing in the passing game. Still, halfway through fall camp, Guarantano has been solid in most media viewings. The redshirt sophomore continues to get the bulk of first-team reps despite Pruitt claiming no leader in the race. Chryst is a heady player who has impressed teammates with his natural leadership and knowledge of the playbook, but his accuracy issues continue to hold him back. As of this writing, it would be a surprise if Guarantano isn’t the first quarterback to see snaps against West Virginia. That doesn’t mean he won’t have a short leash, though." - Jesse Simonton, Volquest.com