Quarterback Updates from Around the Big 12

Well, college football is back, folks! Aren't you excited? I can tell you that the staff at Horns Illustrated can not be more pumped about this season of Longhorn football. Many people believe that this will be the year that Texas returns to the top.  Others are already talking BCS. While it is WAY to early for me to comfortably whisper BCS, I understand the excitement. With multiple players making pre-season watch lists, 19 returning starters and the most experienced QB in the Big 12, expectations are high.

No player on the Texas Longhorns football team has more pressure on his shoulders than David Ash. There is a lot riding on that arm! David Ash is most experienced Big 12 quarterback heading into this season. As a sophomore he was ranked 15th nationally in completion percentage (67.3) and 21st in passing efficiency. Being consistent and running the Longhorns' new up-tempo offense will be key factors for Ash.

"He's leading the team much better and they believe in him. Sitting here the last two years, I haven't been able to say that," Longhorns coach Mack Brown said of Ash. "David is the upside. He's the guy that needs to get us over the hump. If he stays healthy and the defense plays good, he will."

(See Also: How Texas’ Offense Will Capture a Big 12 Title)

It is easy to live in a "Longhorns bubble". After all, Texas fans are fiercely loyal and care deeply about the news that effects their team. It's also easy to forget about the other teams and the other quarterback stories taking place across the Big 12. Luckily, Wendell Barnhouse from Big12Sports.com gives us an update on all the quarterback situations from around the conference.

Two years ago, Robert Griffin III won the Heisman Trophy. Last season, Nick Florence took over and set the school single-season passing record. Junior Bryce Petty is in his fourth season at Baylor and takes over as the starter. Petty, 6-3 and 230 pounds, has been impressive in the team's August scrimmages.

"We've got to find what fits him," Bears coach Art Briles said. "Once we find out what works for him it helps our chances to become very successful. He has to show he can throw the deep ball and pick up big first downs on third and one. We will identify what he can do to help us win."

Iowa State: 
The Cyclones are a rarity in the Big 12 – they went into training camp knowing their starter. Sophomore Sam Richardson took over the starting role for the final two games last season.

"The best quality that Sam is that he's always composed, he knows what's going on and he's aware," Iowa State senior running back Jeff Woody said. "He's got a good arm, and (the) dude can run. But the best thing Sam has got is between his ears, and that's something that instills confidence in the team because we know exactly what's going on."

Finding the offense to keep pace in the Big 12 has been a challenge during coach Paul Rhoads' first four seasons. However, Richardson appears to have the skills plus the Cyclones are going to "The Pistol" formation to mesh a strong running game with a passing game that can spread the field.

Like Iowa State, the Jayhawks' starter is no secret. And like the Cyclones, KU needs a quarterback who can rev up the offense. Junior Jake Heaps sat out last season's 1-11 campaign after transferring from BYU, where he started 10 games as a freshman.

Last season, Kansas finished last in the nation in passing efficiency. Going into his second season, Weis is counting on Heaps to provide the passing threat that will mesh with a solid running game.

"If we can't throw the ball, we won't win, as it was proven last year," Weis said. "We could run against everyone, but we couldn't throw the ball, couldn't score points and couldn't win."

Kansas State:
A major reason why Kansas State was picked to finish sixth in the Big 12 and isn't in the preseason rankings is the fact quarterback Collin Klein, a Heisman Trophy finalist, has moved on.

K-State coach Bill Snyder announced Monday that Jake Waters had beaten out sophomore Daniel Sams to be the Wildcats' starter. Snyder, however, indicated that Sams will play in Friday's opener.

2023 Texas Longhorns Football Season Tickets

Waters was the top-ranked quarterback recruit coming out of junior college after leading Iowa Western to a national title. He was the NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year throwing for 3,501 yards, 39 touchdowns and just three interceptions. Waters set a junior college record with a 73.3 completion percentage.

To most observers outside of the football offices in Norman, Bob Stoops selecting redshirt freshman Trevor Knight as the Sooners' starter was a surprise. Most expected junior Blake Bell to earn the job. As a short-yardage specialist – The Bell Dozer – Bell has 24 rushing touchdowns the last two seasons.

Knight, however, caught the eye of the coaches running the scout team before last season's Cotton Bowl. Knight did more than a commendable job playing the role of Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman winner Johnny Manziel. Knight continued to impress and won the job during training camp.

"He's an explosive guy," said OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, who watched Knight run his players ragged during Cotton Bowl practices. "He can make explosive plays and that's the one thing you know about him: he can make a bad play a good play. He has that uncanny ability to make plays on his feet and he can make plays with his arm. He's very multidimensional."

Oklahoma State: 
Senior Clint Chelf took over as the starter late last season but Cowboys coach Mike Gundy has been coy in terms of naming Chelf or sophomore J.W. Walsh as the starter. Walsh also started some games last season.

Gundy appears comfortable playing both in the season opener against Mississippi State and perhaps the rest of the season. Oklahoma State could gain an edge by forcing opponents to practice and game plan for two quarterbacks with different skill sets.

"(Chelf and Walsh) each bring something different to the table, so there's two ways to look at it - there's more plays for our offense to work on or more plays for their defense," Gundy said. "Hopefully we can find the perfect mesh that gives us the best chance to have success."

With an important season opener against 12th-ranked LSU, coach Gary Patterson has raised his gamesmanship to a high level. Senior Casey Pachall, who left the team in October to enter rehab, has returned and it is assumed he'll be the starter. But sophomore Trevone Boykin, who took over for Pachall last season, has continued to improve.

"I think I can win with both of them in games," Patterson said. "Trevone has really improved what he can do. He has a different skill set. Casey has really improved even from the spring where he was a little bit rusty. I feel like we have two guys here who can win ballgames.

"Both of them have the capability to win Big 12 games and play at a very high level."

Texas Tech: 
First-year Red Raiders coach Kliff Kingsbury said the starter for the season opener at SMU will be known when Texas Tech takes the field for its first offensive play.

Sophomore Michael Brewer, who hasn't started a game, appeared to be the favorite to be this season's QB, but he has been sidelined by a back injury. Either Davis Webb or Baker Mayfield, both freshmen, will start and both could/should play.

"Until the lights come on and you see 'em in a game, you really don't know what you have (with freshmen quarterbacks)," Kingsbury said. "If you coach 'em like freshmen, they'll play like freshmen. You have to hold them to your expectations of how you want to the quarterback to play in this system."

West Virginia:
Perhaps you might sense a trend developing … coach Dana Holgorsen said it will be a game-time decision regarding the starter. Junior Clint Trickett, who transferred from Florida State, has been competing with junior Paul Millard. Holgorsen said the three-man race was reduced to two this week, with redshirt freshman Ford Childress dropping out so the other two could get more practice reps.

"We had to narrow it down and once we did that, both Clint and Paul looked good," Holgorsen said. "So we thought it was warranted to keep the competition going. They've both risen their game and are competing pretty good. How it plays out, I don't know yet."

James Schleicher

James Schleicher is the publisher of Horns Illustrated magazine. He's also a fifth generation Texan and lifelong Austinite. Follow @HornsIllus twitter to keep up with all things Horns Illustrated.