With a couple of notable exceptions, the Big 12 quarterback class of 2014 failed to light the world on fire like some of it’s predecessors. Bryce Petty and Trevone Boykin were dynamic, but beyond those two stars was a mishmash of the good, the mediocre and the forgettable.
In 2011, the Big 12 had four of the Top 10 scoring offenses in college football. In 2012 it had six of the Top 20. In 2013 and 2014, the conference has placed just two teams in the Top 20 in each year.
One of the reasons for the fall-off has been the lack of quality depth in the league at quarterback. Let’s take a look at the how the league is shaping up for 2015….
One of the reasons Art Briles has been able to have such success at Baylor since he took over in 2008 has been the quality of quarterback play for the Bears. In 2008, Robert Griffin III burst onto the scene as a freshman. Since that time, the Bears have been led by RG3, Nick Florence and Bryce Petty. After three years of building the program, the Bears have amassed a 40-12 record in the last four years including a 22-4 record (and 16-2 in the conference) under Petty. Seth Russell is the next man up on the depth chart as he served as a solid back-up the last two seasons. Art Briles says he’s the solid #1 heading into spring football and I wouldn’t look for that to change. The future looks bright in Waco as Jarrett Stidham sits behind Russell.
Outlook: Starting to build a tradition
Sam Richardson was up and down last year for the Cyclones. He had a 2:1 TD:INT ratio, threw for over 2,600 yards and completed 56% of his passes. He also ran for over 400 yards (which makes him the leading returning rusher on the team). One thing that stands out is that Richardson completed just 52% of his passes in conference games and just 49.5% against ranked teams. His inconsistency was just one reason that the Cyclones failed to win a conference game in 2014 and won just two games the entire year. Mark Mangino is back for his second year as offensive coordinator and there is talent at receiver. Can Richardson finally put it all together in his final season?
Outlook: Nowhere to go but up
As expected, the Charlie Weis era was a disaster and now David Beaty is left to pick up the pieces. In 2014, both Michael Cummings and Montell Cozart saw action with Cummings finishing off the season as the starter. Beaty says the QB race for 2015 is “wide open” and that’s due to fast paced and “turbo charged” nature of the offense that he wants to run. All bets are off in the Kansas QB derby but expect it to be a rocky road in the beginning for Beaty and whoever he decides will be his gunslinger.
Outlook: Is it possible to dig out of this hole?
Now that Jake Waters has moved on, the Wildcats are looking for a new signal caller. Will it be 2014 back-up Joe Hubener, freshman Alex Delton or perhaps Jesse Ertz or Taylor Laird. There are options for the Cats this year but experts rank them with the least talent group of QBs in the league. Don’t expect a miracle from the Wildcats, but with Bill Snyder as head coach you can expect them to make the right decision and pick the guy that gives them the best chance to win.
Outlook: Hoping the wizard has a trick up his sleeve
After his coming out party against Alabama, Trevor Knight was expected to take the Big 12 by storm in 2014. That didn’t happen as Knight toiled in mediocrity last season. Enter Baker Mayfield. Mayfield comes over from Texas Tech where he competed 64% of his passes and had a 4:3 TD:INT ratio as a freshman before transferring. A lot of people are projecting Mayfield to come in and take the starting spot from Knight but I’m not so sure. The Sooners certainly have options at QB but they aren’t in the spot they thought they would be after Knight’s big day over a year ago. Look for this battle to rage on into the fall and possibly throughout the 2015 season.
Outlook: Waiting for someone to step up
Since 2012, there might not be a team out there who has had a more cluttered QB picture than the Cowboys as they’ve utilized Daxx Garman, Mason Rudolph, J.W. Walsh, Clint Chelf and Wes Lunt. Garman, Walsh and Rudolph return this year although there are rumors circulating that Garman might exit via the Graduate transfer rule this spring. Garman probably sees the writing on the wall with Mason Rudolph looking like the next long-term option at QB and Walsh returning from injury. No matter who the Cowboys go with, they should have more stability this year than in the past and the future looks good in Stillwater.
Outlook: In good shape
3,901 yards, 33 passing touchdowns, 61.5% completion percentage, 707 rushing yards, 8 rushing touchdowns and 12 wins. Those were Trevone Boykin’s stats last year and that’s why he puts TCU at the top of the Big 12 QB totem pole heading into 2015. Boykin is a legit Heisman Trophy candidate and helps put TCU into the Top 5 in college football for next season.
Tyrone Swoopes took over for Texas last season and he was…well…he was okay. He completed 58% of his passes for over 2,400 yards and threw 13 TD against 11 INT. With one year under his belt, will everything click for Swoopes in 2015 or will Jerrod Heard take over? The move to a spread offense should be a good fit for Heard and he will be given every chance to win the starting spot this spring and fall.
Outlook: Wait and see
Patrick Mahomes really separated himself from the pack last year in his last three games. During that stretch he threw for 14 TD against just 2 interceptions. While Kingsbury will tell you that Mahomes and Davis Webb as “even” going into spring ball, he knows that he has a much better chance to win with Mahomes as his QB. Looks for Mahomes to be the man for the foreseeable future for the Red Raiders.
Outlook: Trending Up
Clint Trickett stepped up and gave West Virginia something it was missing in 2013; stability at the quarterback position. With Trickett moving on, where will the Mountaineers turn this year? Skyler Howard returns and he certainly could be a solid option for WVU. Howard might even get the nod for the starting job in 2015 but at some point it’s likely that he will give way to William Crest, who has a much higher upside.
Outlook: Potentially explosive