College football's biggest quarterback concerns

Sep 1, 2009 |
College football's biggest quarterback concerns

The psychology of naming a starting quarterback is fascinating.

Some coaches do it as soon as possible, in some cases too soon. Others wait it out to “keep the competition going all the way to kick off.” Take the coach speak out of that statement, and you’re left with neither quarterback has out-played the other one.

And there’s always the good old two-quarterback platoon. Other than Leak and Tebow, has that ever worked?

Either way, not having a solidified starter at the most important position is a major concern and something bettors need to know.

Here are five teams entering the season with question marks under center:

USC Trojans

Spin it however you want—and Pete Carroll has—but starting true freshman quarterback Matt Barkley shows at least a hint of desperation.

Reports from last week’s mock game have the 18-year-old Barkley looking comfortable, but only when there was not pressure applied from a scout defense comprised of third teamers and walk-ons.

"We've got to make it easy for him," Carroll told the Los Angeles Times. "We're already talking among ourselves that we have to be careful."

“Careful” doesn’t cover gigantic point spreads.

No matter how much Barkley has impressed the coaching staff, he still wasn’t able to beat out sophomore Aaron Corp, until Corp went down with a leg injury on August 10.

Notice how Carroll waited until Corp returned to practice, before naming Barkley the starter. Maybe it was out of respect for Corp, who admits he’s not 100 percent recovered from a cracked fibula. But it seems more likely that Carroll wasn’t won over by Barkley as quickly as he’d like fans to think.

Remember, Carroll, who always keeps his California cool, threw a little bit of a fit, when Mark Sanchez announced he was leaving early for the NFL. It was out of the character for one of the best in the business, who, perhaps, was a little concerned with what was left behind.

Boston College Eagles

Things have gone from bad to worse for the Eagles. After their projected starter was suspended and eventually transferred, new head coach Frank Spaziani was left without a quarterback with any college experience.

David Shinskie, a 25-year-old minor league baseball player, enrolled and instantly became the favorite to be the starter. But Shinskie broke a rib last week and has missed practice time.

He hasn’t been ruled out, but it seems unlikely that he’ll be able to shake off a broken rib in time face Northeastern in the season opener.

That leaves redshirt freshman Justin Tuggle and true freshman Michael Marscovetra as the remaining options. Spaziani said he’ll choose a starter after Tuesday’s practice.

But it hasn’t mattered who was at quarterback during preseason practice. The Eagles’ offense has struggled mightily. They didn’t score a touchdown until the final play of their second scrimmage.

“The QB play leaves a lot to be desired,” Spaziani told reporters.

Washington State Cougars

It’s ugly in Pullman.

Cougar coach Paul Wulff is going with a two-quarterback platoon of senior Kevin Lopina and sophomore Marshall Lobbestael.

That’s the same duo that combined to throw four touchdowns and 15 interceptions last season.

Lopina was responsible for 11 of those picks and none of the touchdowns. He’ll get the start Saturday against Stanford (-17).

Michigan Wolverines

It’s been a rough stretch for Wolverine fans.

It began with the realization that freshman quarterback Tate Forcier isn’t as of now the second coming of Pat White.

Many thought Forcier was tailor-made to run coach Rick Rodriguez’s spread option attack and would instantly erase the memories of last year’s struggles. But he hasn’t done enough to separate himself from the pack.

Rodriguez plans on playing three quarterbacks - Forcier, senior Nick Sheridan and true freshman Denard Robinson -  in Saturday’s opener against Western Michigan.

In addition to the QB concerns, there is an investigation into reports that Rodriguez is exceeding NCAA time limits on football –related activities raise some big flags around Ann Arbor.

Michigan opened as a 13-point favorite against Western Michigan, but the line is dropping and down to as little as 11.5 at some books.

Utah Utes
Junior college transfer Terrance Cain has been receiving the majority of the snaps in practice, but coach Kyle Whittingham has refused to name him the starter.

On Monday, Whittingham said the decision has been made and the team had been informed, but no official announcement would be made before Thursday’s opener against Utah State.

Freshman Jordan Wynn was the No. 1 guy early in camp, but it appears Cain, the Junior College Player of the Year, overtook him during the final two weeks of camp.

It would be a surprise to most if Cain isn’t the first under center when the Utes (-20.5) host the Aggies, who are coached by former Utah defensive coordinator Greg Andersen.

Cain is a dual-threat quarterback, who right now is a better runner than passer.


Syracuse and Rutgers also enter the season with quarterback issues. Who else? If you’ve got information on other quarterback concerns, please share it with the Covers Community.

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