August 25, 2008

Ranking the QB tandems: Experience matters

For the last two weeks, Rivals.com has unveiled its power rankings position by position, including head coaches and coordinators. Today, we take a bit of a different spin.

We've ranked every quarterback "tandem" in Division I-A college football, including provisional member Western Kentucky. This ranking is not meant to be just a comparison of talent levels. Rather, there are numerous variables:

The experience level of the starting quarterback.
An objective opinion of how these guys will produce in their offense.
The experience level of the backup. (All things considered, a team with an experienced backup is going to rank higher than a team without an experienced quarterback.)
How the quarterbacks fit their offense.
How comfortable coaches should be entering the season with their quarterbacks.

Here goes:

1. WEST VIRGINIA
STARTER/BACKUP: Pat White/Jarrett Brown
THE BUZZ: White might be the nation's most electrifying and dynamic player. He is a threat to score any time he touches the ball, and from anywhere on the field. He also continues to develop as a passer and might get more opportunities to throw it this season. He's a senior, so the coaching change shouldn't have an adverse effect on him. Brown, a junior, is a more-than-capable replacement. He's obviously not as good a runner as White, but he still has some talent in that area and he's a solid passer.

2. OKLAHOMA
STARTER/BACKUP: Sam Bradford/Joey Halzle
THE BUZZ: Bradford was a revelation as a redshirt freshman last season. He accumulated 3,121 passing yards, 36 TDs and eight interceptions. Bradford, who led the nation in passing efficiency, has a big-time arm. Halzle is a good passer, and OU would be fine in the short-term if he were pressed into duty

3. FLORIDA
STARTER/BACKUP: Tim Tebow/Cameron Newton
THE BUZZ: Tebow, the reigning Heisman winner, is the best quarterback in the nation, but UF's backup situation is dicier than the teams listed above them. Going into last season, it was thought Tebow would be a powerful runner and he was, rushing for 895 yards and a SEC-record 23 TDs. But it was his skill as a passer (3,286 yards, 32 TDs, six picks, 66.9 completion percentage) that was a surprise. He throws a nice long ball and also has good touch on short passes.

4. MISSOURI
STARTER/BACKUP: Chase Daniel/Chase Patton
THE BUZZ: Daniel is the best quarterback in the Big 12, but Missouri's backup situation isn't as good as Oklahoma's. Daniel had a season for the ages in 2007, throwing for 4,306 yards and 33 TDs. He has excellent mobility and also is a threat as a runner. Daniel doesn't have prototypical size (6 feet 0/225), but he simply knows how to win.

5. TEXAS TECH
STARTER/BACKUP: Graham Harrell/Taylor Potts
THE BUZZ: Like all Tech quarterbacks, Harrell puts up huge numbers (he threw for 5,705 yards and 48 TDs last season). But there's a school of thought that Harrell, a senior, is just better than his predecessors. Harrell is more gifted athletically than previous Tech QBs, and seems to always be in sync with coach Mike Leach. Harrell, who completed 71.4 percent of his throws last season, can be counted on to produce great numbers again.

6. GEORGIA
STARTER/BACKUP: Matthew Stafford/Joe Cox
THE BUZZ: Stafford has all the tools, including a big-time arm, and seemed on his way to putting it all together last season. He threw for 2,523 yards and 19 TDs a year ago. Still, he has room for growth: He completed just 55.7 percent of his passes last season and has 26 career TDs and 23 career picks. Georgia remains a pro-style team geared toward the run, but there will come a time this season when Stafford has to win a game or two with his arm.

7. USC
STARTER/BACKUP: Mark Sanchez/Aaron Corp
THE BUZZ: Sanchez was one of the nation's top high school quarterbacks in 2005, and the starting job finally is his this season - as a junior. He is a bit banged-up but still likely will start the opener at Virginia. He has a good arm and a solid grasp of the offense. Corp was a big-time recruit in the 2007 class. The third-stringer is Mitch Mustain, a mega-recruit from the 2006 class, who some analysts thought was better than Tebow and Stafford.

8. KANSAS
STARTER/BACKUP: Todd Reesing/Kerry Meier
THE BUZZ: While Reesing doesn't look like he could do much damage (he's listed at 5-11 and 200 pounds), he had a monster season in '07. He threw for 3,486 yards and 33 TDs and only had seven interceptions. He also is a capable runner.

9. CENTRAL MICHIGAN
STARTER/BACKUP: Dan LeFevour/Brian Brunner
THE BUZZ: LeFevour became just the second quarterback in Division I-A history to throw for 3,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in the same season. The other was Vince Young. LeFevour threw for 3,652 yards and 27 TDs (with a 65.4 completion percentage) and ran for another 1,122 yards and 19 TDs. It's not unrealistic to expect slightly better passing numbers this season, especially if he can cut down on his 13 picks.

10. CLEMSON
STARTER/BACKUP: Cullen Harper/Willy Korn
THE BUZZ: Harper was the great unknown for Clemson's offense heading into the 2007 season. Consider him famous now. He threw for 2,991 yards and 27 TDs (against just six picks) and should easily be the best quarterback in the ACC this season. He and coordinator Rob Spence work well together.

11. ARIZONA STATE
STARTER/BACKUP: Rudy Carpenter/Danny Sullivan
THE BUZZ: Carpenter threw for 3,202 yards and 25 TDs last season, his first in Dennis Erickson's pro-style offense. His numbers would've been better if not he hadn't had to run for his life behind the sieve that masqueraded as the Sun Devils' offensive line. A 3,500-yard, 30-TD season should be the goal for Carpenter as a senior this season.

12. TEXAS
STARTER/BACKUP: Colt McCoy/John Chiles
THE BUZZ: McCoy struggled some as a sophomore, yet still threw for 3,303 yards and 22 TDs and rushed for 492 yards. But his 18 picks were a big-time cause for concern. McCoy should be expected to lessen the number of mistakes. Chiles is a big-time runner who will see time, but he has a ways to go to become a proficient passer.

13. OHIO STATE
STARTER/BACKUP: Todd Boeckman/Terrelle Pryor
THE BUZZ: Boeckman isn't going to wow you with any physical attribute, but he is a heady and steady quarterback. He threw 25 TD passes and completed 63.9 percent of his passes last season. Still, his 14 interceptions need to drop by five or so. Expect Buckeyes coaches to come up with some kind of package for Pryor, who would seem to be a perfect spread quarterback.

14. BALL STATE
STARTER/BACKUP: Nate Davis/Tanner Justice
THE BUZZ: Davis is coming off a tremendous season 3,667 yards, 30 TDs and just six picks. He has good mobility and also can hurt opponents when he runs. But he is at his best in the pocket. He has a strong arm and understands the offense.

15. ARIZONA
STARTER/BACKUP: Willie Tuitama/Matt Scott
THE BUZZ: Tuitama made great strides last season under coordinator Spike Dykes. He threw for 3,683 yards and 28 TDs, and better numbers can be expected this season as Tuitama becomes more comfortable in the offense. Tuitama, a senior, has a chance to be the first Arizona quarterback drafted since the Wildcats joined the Pac-10 in 1978.

16. PURDUE
STARTER/BACKUP: Curtis Painter/Joey Elliott
THE BUZZ: Painter had mighty nice stats last season (3,846 yards, 29 TDs, 62.2 completion percentage), but he never seemed to be at his best against top-flight opponents. Still, he understands Joe Tiller's offense and has a shot to be a 4,000-yard passer this season.

17. BYU
STARTER/BACKUP: Max Hall/Brenden Gaskins
THE BUZZ: Hall had a great first season as the Cougars' starter, throwing for 3,848 yards and 26 TDs. Expect even better numbers this season for a Cougars offense that is loaded. Plus, BYU's defense has some issues, so some early season shootouts could further inflate Hall's stats.

18. INDIANA
STARTER/BACKUP: Kellen Lewis/Ben Chappell
THE BUZZ: Lewis had some off-field issues and was suspended, which led to coaches saying Chappell could be the new starter. After seeing Lewis play last season, it's hard to believe IU coaches would bench him. He threw for 3,043 yards and 28 TDs. Lewis also was IU's leading rusher, with 736 yards and nine more TDs. He is a good athlete and a dynamic playmaker.

19. WASHINGTON
STARTER/BACKUP: Jake Locker/Ronnie Fouch
THE BUZZ: Locker is a bull of a runner. He ran for 986 yards and 13 TDs last season. He gives the Huskies a guy to build around, but he must become a better passer. A lot better passer. He completed 47.3 percent of his passes, with 14 TDs and 15 picks, last season. That completion percentage needs to go up 10 points, he needs to have at least 20 TD passes and the picks need to fall below 10.

20. KANSAS STATE
STARTER/BACKUP: Josh Freeman/Carson Coffman
THE BUZZ: Freeman threw for 3,353 yards and 18 TDs, and completed 63.3 percent of his passes last season. However, Freeman needs to find a new go-to receiver this season. If he does that, it's fair to expect him to throw 25 TD passes.

21. FLORIDA ATLANTIC
STARTER/BACKUP: Rusty Smith/Jeff VanCamp
THE BUZZ: Smith burst on the scene in a big way as a sophomore last season, throwing for 3,688 yards and 32 TDs. He has NFL size (6-5/225), and FAU coach Howard Schnellenberger who spent more than a decade of his career in the NFL says Smith is a future first-rounder. "Some are getting drafted that aren't as good as he is right now. I don't understand why anybody questions me," he told the Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale.

22. ILLINOIS
STARTER/BACKUP: Juice Williams/Eddie McGee
THE BUZZ: With tailback Rashard Mendenhall now in the NFL, this is Williams' team. His mobility is put to good use in the offense, but he must become a more proficient passer. Yes, he has a cannon for an arm, but he needs to make better decisions and simply improve as a thrower. McGee has done well in limited time.

23. UTAH
STARTER/BACKUP: Brian Johnson/Corbin Louks
THE BUZZ: Johnson is one of the nation's best when he is healthy. Alas, he has had issues remaining healthy. He is a great fit for the Utes' spread offense. Johnson is an adept runner and a good passer. Expect him to run a bit more this season, and 20 TD passes is a legit goal.

24. OKLAHOMA STATE
STARTER/BACKUP: Zac Robinson/Brandon Weeden
THE BUZZ: Robinson did a great job in his first season as the full-time starter in '07, running for 847 yards and passing for 2,824. Weeden, who is 6-4, toiled for five seasons in the minor leagues as a pitcher before returning to football last season.

25. SOUTH FLORIDA
STARTER/BACKUP: Matt Grothe/Grant Gregory
THE BUZZ: Grothe threw for 2,670 yards last season and also was the Bulls' leading rusher. As tough as he is, USF would be better off if Grothe had more help. Too often last season, it seemed as if USF's offensive plan consisted of letting Grothe try to make a play. He needs to cut down on his interceptions. Still, Grothe is a master at eluding the rush and making a big play with his arm or legs.

26. CALIFORNIA
STARTER/BACKUP: Kevin Riley/Nate Longshore
THE BUZZ: Coach Jeff Tedford named Riley the starter on Friday over Longshore, a far more experienced senior. But Longshore probably had maxed out, while Riley offers a bigger upside and the possibility of building for the future.

27. MICHIGAN STATE
STARTER/BACKUP: Brian Hoyer/Kirk Cousins
THE BUZZ: Hoyer, a senior, performed well in his first season as the starter in 2007. He could stand to improve his accuracy a bit but has the potential to be a 3,000-yard passer this season.

28. NEW MEXICO STATE
STARTER/BACKUP: Chase Holbrook/J.J. McDermott
THE BUZZ: Holbrook, who began his career at Division I-AA Southeastern Louisiana, has thrown for 8,485 yards and 60 TDs in his two seasons with the pass-happy Aggies. Interestingly, Holbrook was born in Lubbock, Texas home of pass-happy Texas Tech. Mike Leach, the coach of Texas Tech, used to work for Aggies coach Hal Mumme.

29. VIRGINIA TECH
STARTER/BACKUP: Sean Glennon/Tyrod Taylor
THE BUZZ: Glennon is the better passer, Taylor the better runner. Expect the duo to share the job again this season.

30. NEVADA
STARTER/BACKUP: Colin Kaepernick/Nick Graziano
THE BUZZ: Graziano began last season as the starter but was injured in the fifth game of the season, which opened the door for Kaepernick. Kaepernick is gangly (6-6/215), but a surprisingly good runner whose big strides take up chunks of yardage. Kaepernick is a solid passer as well, throwing for 19 TDs (against just three picks) last season. Nevada's "pistol" offense should put up big numbers this season.

31. LOUISVILLE
STARTER/BACKUP: Hunter Cantwell/Tyler Wolfe
THE BUZZ: Cantwell, a fifth-year senior with great size (6-4/236), is heading into his first season as the starter with just 157 career attempts under his belt. Still, he has a big arm and a command of the offense, and pro scouts love his potential. The big question for the Cardinals' passing attack: Will a No. 1 and a No. 2 receiver emerge?

32. OREGON
STARTER/BACKUP: Justin Roper/Jeremiah Masoli
THE BUZZ: It was announced Monday that Nate Costa is out for up to 10 weeks with an ankle injury. This ranking was made when Costa was the assumed starter. Roper had a great game in the Ducks' Sun Bowl rout of USF, but it remains to be seen whether he truly fits the Ducks' version of the spread.

33. UTEP
STARTER/BACKUP: Trevor Vittatoe/Kyle Wright
THE BUZZ: Vittatoe emerged as a potential star last season as a redshirt freshman, throwing for 3,101 yards, 25 TDs and seven picks. If a legit No. 2 receiver develops, Vittatoe should have no problem improving on his numbers. He already has a good feel for the offense and a 30-TD season is a legit goal.

34. RICE
STARTER/BACKUP: Chase Clement/John Thomas Shepherd
THE BUZZ: Clement, a senior, is heading into his third season as the starter. He has thrown for 5,666 yards and 55 TDs in his career. He threw for at least 300 yards in six of the final seven games last season. He also led Rice in rushing last season in the Owls' version of the spread.

35. BOWLING GREEN
STARTER/BACKUP: Tyler Sheehan/Andrew Beam
THE BUZZ: Sheehan threw for 3,264 yards and 23 TDs last season and also is a tough runner. He must cut down on is interception total. If he remains healthy he had a sore shoulder last season a 3,500-yard season is within reach.

36. FRESNO STATE
STARTER/BACKUP: Tom Brandstater/Ryan Colburn
THE BUZZ: Brandstater is entering his third season as the starter. If he makes the kind of improvement he made between his sophomore and junior seasons, he'll be the WAC's all-league quarterback. Brandstater has a strong running attack to lean on and did a much better job of staying within the offense last season.

37. WAKE FOREST
STARTER/BACKUP: Riley Skinner/Brett Hodges
THE BUZZ: Skinner's stats don't jump off the page at you. He has 33 career TD passes and 31 career interceptions. But he also has completed 70.5 percent of his passes and seemingly has a knack of coming up with a big play when it's needed. Plus, he has led Wake to back-to-back bowl games and should have them in the hunt for the ACC title this season.

38. ALABAMA
STARTER/BACKUP: John Parker Wilson/Greg McElroy
THE BUZZ: How Wilson works with new coordinator Jim McElwain, who comes from Fresno State, will be interesting to watch. McElwain did nice things with Brandstater at Fresno. Wilson has a nice arm, but he needs to become more consistent and cut down on his interceptions.

39. NORTHWESTERN
STARTER/BACKUP: C.J. Bacher/Mike Kafka
THE BUZZ: Bacher has the tools to be successful in the spread offense if he could just cut down on his interceptions. As for the backup, wouldn't it be great to be able to describe an offense as "Kafkaesque"?

40. RUTGERS
STARTER/BACKUP: Mike Teel/Jabu Lovelace
THE BUZZ: Without tailback Ray Rice to lean on, more of the offense will be on Teel's shoulders this season. He threw for 3,147 yards and 20 TDs last season but he also threw 13 interceptions. He obviously has to cut down on his mistakes.

41. TEXAS A&M
STARTER/BACKUP: Stephen McGee/Jerrod Johnson
THE BUZZ: McGee, who was a prolific high school passer, will get to show off his arm in new coach Mike Sherman's offense. One potential problem: The Aggies' wide receivers are unproven. Johnson is a big-time athlete who needs work as a passer.

42. DUKE
STARTER/BACKUP: Thaddeus Lewis/Zack Asack
THE BUZZ: Lewis quietly put together a sterling season for a horrible team in '07, throwing for 2,430 yards, 21 TDs and 10 interceptions. With noted quarterback guru David Cutcliffe now in charge of the program, Lewis could make a quantum leap this season.

43. HOUSTON
STARTER/BACKUP: Case Keenum/Blake Joseph
THE BUZZ: These two shared the job last season under former coach Art Briles. Keenum, a sophomore, has good mobility and was effective in the Cougars' dink-and-dunk passing attack, completing 68.5 percent of his throws. Still, he made too many mistakes, probably because of inexperience.

44. PENN STATE
STARTER/BACKUP: Daryll Clark/Pat Devlin
THE BUZZ: Clark is a good athlete who would enable Penn State to use a lot of the same offense it used in 2005 with Michael Robinson, when the Nittany Lions went to the Orange Bowl. Devlin is more of a pocket passer. Truth be told, both would be improvements over Anthony Morelli, last season's starter.

45. TCU
STARTER/BACKUP: Andy Dalton/Marcus Jackson
THE BUZZ: Both are adept at leading the Horned Frogs' run-based attack. Both are adequate runners. Jackson played well late last season. Dalton needs to cut down on his mistakes and not force throws into coverage.

46. NEBRASKA
STARTER/BACKUP: Joe Ganz/Patrick Witt
THE BUZZ: Ganz was terrific down the stretch last season and is a nice fit in the Huskers' passing attack. He's not a prototypical throwing quarterback (6-1/210), but he understands the offense and generally doesn't take unnecessary risks.

47. FLORIDA STATE
STARTER/BACKUP: Drew Weatherford/Christian Ponder
THE BUZZ: Weatherford is trying to fend off Ponder and start for the fourth season in a row. Weatherford cut down on his mistakes last season but only threw nine TD passes.

48. EAST CAROLINA
STARTER/BACKUP: Patrick Pinkney/Rob Kass
THE BUZZ: Pinkney is a good athlete who can hurt opposing defenses with his legs. He also proved to be a better passer than expected last season, when he shared time with Kass. Kass is a pocket passer who needs to improve his accuracy.

49. COLORADO
STARTER/BACKUP: Cody Hawkins/Matt Ballenger
THE BUZZ: Hawkins improved last season from his showing as a freshman in 2006. If he makes the same kind of strides this season, the Buffs will be just fine. It would help his cause if a legit No. 1 receiver emerges.

50. NAVY
STARTER/BACKUP: Kaipo-Noa Kaheaku-Enhada /Jarod Bryant
THE BUZZ: Kaheaku-Enhada is a great fit for the Middies' option offense. But he has been bothered by a hamstring injury and might miss the opener.

51. AUBURN
STARTER/BACKUP: Kodi Burns/Chris Todd
THE BUZZ: Auburn's move to the spread is good news for Burns, a solid runner who needs to become a better passer. He did a nice job helping the Tigers win the Chick-fil-A Bowl. Todd is a junior college transfer who began his career at Texas Tech. He's the better passer of the two and might have a better grasp of the offense. Both will be more of a playmaker than predecessor Brandon Cox.

52. TENNESSEE
STARTER/BACKUP: Jonathan Crompton/Nick Stephens
THE BUZZ: Crompton heads into his first season as the starter. He is more athletic than predecessor Erik Ainge, and with the Vols putting in some spread formation basics, expect to see Crompton running the ball at times. The big thing for Crompton is to limit his mistakes. He has an excellent line in front of him and a talented back (Arian Foster) behind him.

53. TULSA
STARTER/BACKUP: David Johnson/Jacob Bower
THE BUZZ: Johnson, a fifth-year senior, never has started a game in his career and has thrown just 53 passes. Heck, it's possible he throws 53 in the opener. He has a ton of weapons to work with this season. Unless he implodes, he should put up big numbers.

54. ARKANSAS STATE
STARTER/BACKUP: Corey Leonard/Travis Hewitt
THE BUZZ: Leonard is a solid passer and a good runner; in short, he is a good fit for the Red Wolves' offense. He needs to cut down on his interceptions, though.

55. GEORGIA TECH
STARTER/BACKUP: Josh Nesbitt/Jaybo Shaw
THE BUZZ: Nesbitt looks to have the requisite skills needed in coach Paul Johnson's triple-option offense. So does Shaw, a true freshman who has impressed Johnson with his option mechanics.

56. OLE MISS
STARTER/BACKUP: Jevan Snead/Billy Tapp
THE BUZZ: Snead is a touted transfer from Texas. He looks to be a good fit for Houston Nutt's offense and needs to be a threat with his arm and legs.

57. PITTSBURGH
STARTER/BACKUP: Bill Stull/Pat Bostick
THE BUZZ: Stull started the first game last season, but tore thumb ligaments and missed the rest of the season. Pitt expects an improved passing attack with Stull's return. Still, this will be a run-based offense.

58. WESTERN MICHIGAN
STARTER/BACKUP: Tim Hiller/Drew Burdi
THE BUZZ: If Hiller (6-5/228), a junior, develops some consistency, Western Michigan can win the MAC - and NFL scouts will take notice. Hiller has a strong arm and, despite his size, he has OK mobility.

59. LSU
STARTER/BACKUP: Andrew Hatch/Jarrett Lee
THE BUZZ: You have to wonder if LSU coaches still wonder what could've been had Ryan Perrilloux been a better citizen. Hatch, who began his career at Harvard, isn't going to wow you with his athletic ability, but he is steadier than Lee, who in turn has more big-play potential.

60. NEW MEXICO
STARTER/BACKUP: Donovan Porterie/Brad Gruner
THE BUZZ: While the Lobos are known for their rushing attack, Porterie threw for 3,006 yards last season. Still, he faded a bit down the stretch and will be without two 1,000-yard receivers this season.

61. CONNECTICUT
STARTER/BACKUP: Tyler Lorenzen/Zach Frazer
THE BUZZ: Lorenzen doesn't do anything flashy. But he's a solid caretaker for the Huskies' ground-based attack.

62. MINNESOTA
STARTER/BACKUP: Adam Weber/Tony Mortensen
THE BUZZ: Weber is a guy to watch. He's a nice-sized guy (6-3/220) who has a good arm and is a strong runner. But he needs to make better decisions. He also needs more help. If everything breaks right for the Golden Gophers, he's a guy who could pass for 3,000 yards and run for 500. While Mortensen and fellow senior Mike Maciejowski are battling to be the backup, you have to wonder if touted freshman MarQueis Gray would get the call if Weber was lost for the season early on.

63. WISCONSIN
STARTER/BACKUP: Allan Evridge/Dustin Sherer
THE BUZZ: The Badgers don't need Evridge who began his career at Kansas State to be spectacular. Rather, they just need him to avoid mistakes. Evridge does have some running ability, so how the coaches use him will be interesting to watch.

64. OREGON STATE
STARTER/BACKUP: Lyle Moevao/Sean Canfield
THE BUZZ: These guys shared the job last season but they weren't that good. They combined for 11 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. Moevao lacks size (he's 5-11) but has some mobility, which the Beavers figure to take advantage of this season.

65. NORTH CAROLINA
STARTER/BACKUP: T.J. Yates/Cam Sexton
THE BUZZ: Yates started off hot last season but cooled considerably. He finished the season with 18 picks. He needs to develop some consistency or could lose his job. Sexton is trying to hold off redshirt freshman Mike Paulus for the backup job. Mike's brother, Greg, is Duke's starting point guard.

66. SOUTH CAROLINA
STARTER/BACKUP: Tommy Beecher/Chris Smelley
THE BUZZ: Yes, Steve Spurrier is a quarterback guru. But it's hard to have faith that either of these guys is going to produce big numbers. As for third-teamer Stephen Garcia, he seems more interested in wasting his talent than anything else.

67. NOTRE DAME
STARTER/BACKUP: Jimmy Clausen/Evan Sharpley
THE BUZZ: Clausen was one of the highest-touted high school quarterbacks in the past decade, but he like the rest of the Irish offense had a miserable 2007. Expect him to be more consistent as a sophomore this season. It would help his cause if the line actually learned how to pass-block.

68. MICHIGAN
STARTER/BACKUP: Nick Sheridan OR Steven Threet
THE BUZZ: These guys won't remind anyone of Pat White, that's for sure. You can expect the coaches to tweak the offense to best fit the quarterbacks' skill sets. True freshman Justin Feagin could get into the mix, too.

69. BUFFALO
STARTER/BACKUP: Drew Willy/Cory Jorgensen
THE BUZZ: Willy will be a four-year starter. He is extremely accurate (68.4 completion percentage last season) and is a nice fit in coach Turner Gill's offense.

70. CINCINNATI
STARTER/BACKUP: Dustin Grutza/Tony Pike
THE BUZZ: If Ben Mauk wins his NCAA appeal, Cincy would have one of the nation's top 30 or so quarterback situations. Grutza is experienced but limited; Pike is skilled but inexperienced.

71. BOISE STATE
STARTER/BACKUP: Kellen Moore/Bush Hamdan
THE BUZZ: Moore is a redshirt freshman. This will mark the first time in school history a freshman will open a season as the starting quarterback. Hamdan's brother, Gibran, is an NFL quarterback.

72. UCLA
STARTER/BACKUP: Kevin Craft/Chris Forcier
THE BUZZ: If new coach Rick Neuheisel had his way, Craft would be the No. 3 guy. Instead, Pat Cowan was lost for the season in spring ball and Ben Olson is likely to miss at least a month with a broken foot. Craft, who began his career at San Diego State, was the California junior college player of the year in 2007 and has some skills.

73. LOUISIANA-LAFAYETTE
STARTER/BACKUP: Michael Desormeaux/Chris Masson
THE BUZZ: Desormeaux ran for 1,141 yards and seven TDs in the Ragin Cajuns' option offense last season, so he's a definite threat when the ball is in his hands. He has a lot of work to do as a passer, though.

74. MIAMI UNIVERSITY
STARTER/BACKUP: Daniel Raudabaugh/Clay Belton
THE BUZZ: The RedHawks need more consistency from Raudabaugh, a junior who held off the redshirt freshman Belton during fall drills. Raudabaugh has a good arm but too often makes poor decisions.

75. MIDDLE TENNESSEE
STARTER/BACKUP: Dwight Dasher/Joe Craddock
THE BUZZ: Dasher is a sophomore who can make big plays with his legs, but Craddock has been better in fall drills. He isn't a big-play threat, but may be steadier.

76. TOLEDO
STARTER/BACKUP: Aaron Opelt/D.J. Lenehan
THE BUZZ: Opelt has a nice arm but has battled injuries in his first two seasons.

77. MEMPHIS
STARTER/BACKUP: Arkelon Hall/Will Hudgens
THE BUZZ: Hall, a junior college transfer, began his career at Washington State. He is mobile and has a strong arm. Hudgens, a senior, has started four games in his career.

78. BOSTON COLLEGE
STARTER/BACKUP: Chris Crane/Dominique Davis
THE BUZZ: Crane, a fifth-year senior, has made one start in his career. He has good size (6-4/239) and a strong arm, but he is stepping into huge shoes: those of No. 3 overall pick Matt Ryan. Davis is a good athlete who adds the threat of a run.

79. SMU
STARTER/BACKUP: Bo Levi Mitchell/Braden Smith
THE BUZZ: Both are true freshmen. Junior Justin Willis, who threw 51 TD passes in his first two seasons, evidently is a bad fit for new coach June Jones' system and is No. 3 on the depth chart. While Jones knows what he is doing, expect numerous growing pains for Mitchell and/or Smith.

80. MIAMI
STARTER/BACKUP: Robert Marve/Jacory Harris
THE BUZZ: Marve is a redshirt freshman who was Florida's "Mr. Football" at Tampa's Plant High in 2006. Harris is a true freshman who guided Miami Northwestern to the mythical high school national title last season. These guys have some talented tailbacks to work with, but there is no established No. 1 receiver and the line is an issue, too.

81. VANDERBILT
STARTER/BACKUP: Chris Nickson/MacKenzi Adams
THE BUZZ: Nickson looked like a rising star as a sophomore in 2006. But he regressed badly last season, losing the starting job to Adams. Nickson has more upside.

82. EASTERN MICHIGAN
STARTER/BACKUP: Andy Schmitt/Kyle McMahon
THE BUZZ: Schmitt, a junior, is a big guy (6-4/242) who has a shot at setting the school record for total offense.

83. WASHINGTON STATE
STARTER/BACKUP: Gary Rogers/Kevin Lopina
THE BUZZ: Rogers is a big guy (6-6/233) and he'll be asked to run Washington State's version of the spread. Is he mobile enough? We'll find out.

84. ARKANSAS
STARTER/BACKUP: Casey Dick/Nathan Dick
THE BUZZ: Dick goes from the run-run-run offense of Houston Nutt to the pass-happy attack of Bobby Petrino. It will be a tough adjustment.

85. MISSISSIPPI STATE
STARTER/BACKUP: Wesley Carroll/Tyson Lee
THE BUZZ: Carroll was asked to be a caretaker for the offense as a true freshman last season. He needs to do more this season, or defenses will load up to shut down the run.

86. VIRGINIA
STARTER/BACKUP: Peter Lalich/Scott Deke
THE BUZZ: The Cavs will miss Jameel Sewell, who is sitting out this season under an academic suspension. Lalich has a strong arm, but isn't near the runner Sewell was for the Cavaliers.

87. IOWA
STARTER/BACKUP: Jake Christensen/Rick Stanzi
THE BUZZ: Christensen needs to become a better passer. Coaches won't hesitate to throw Stanzi into the fray.

88. LOUISIANA TECH
STARTER/BACKUP: Taylor Bennett/Ross Jenkins
THE BUZZ: Bennett, a senior, was the starter at Georgia Tech last season before transferring when Paul Johnson was named coach. He was mediocre last season; will the move to the WAC from the ACC mean better play?

89. N.C. STATE
STARTER/BACKUP: Russell Wilson/Daniel Evans
THE BUZZ: Wilson is a 5-11 redshirt freshman, but he's a gamer with mobility. Evans, a senior who has started 16 games in the past two seasons, has had his moments but lacks consistency.

90. MARYLAND
STARTER/BACKUP: Jordan Steffy/Chris Turner
THE BUZZ: Steffy was the starter last season until he was injured. Turner stepped in and finished the season. Maryland must get better quarterback play this season. The Terps' passing game has scared no one the past few seasons.

91. HAWAII
STARTER/BACKUP: Brent Rausch/Inoke Funaki
THE BUZZ: Rausch, a JC transfer, is under some pressure he is replacing Colt Brennan and his first start comes at Florida. Rausch is starting only because projected starter Tyler Graunke ran afoul of team rules.

92. KENTUCKY
STARTER/BACKUP: Mike Hartline/Randall Cobb
THE BUZZ: Hartline ascended to the starting role when Curtis Pulley was kicked out of school last month. Expect a big drop-off at quarterback for UK, which had Andre Woodson and a bunch of talented receivers who are gone last season.

93. WYOMING
STARTER/BACKUP: Dax Crum/Karsten Sween
THE BUZZ: Crum is a junior college transfer who enrolled in time for spring ball. Crum beat out Sween, who had started the past two seasons. This might be a make-or-break season for coach Joe Glenn, so Crum is under the gun.

94. WESTERN KENTUCKY
STARTER/BACKUP: K.J. Black/David Wolke
THE BUZZ: Black's mobility gives him the edge over Wolke, who began his career at Notre Dame. These two shared the job last season, but coach David Elson said he doesn't want to do that again.

95. NORTH TEXAS
STARTER/BACKUP: Giovanni Vizza/Daniel Meager
THE BUZZ: Vizza did as well as could be expected when thrust into the mix as a true freshman last season. Touted true freshman Riley Dodge, the coach's son, could eventually be the No. 2 guy or even the starter.

96. SYRACUSE
STARTER/BACKUP: Andrew Robinson/Cameron Dantley
THE BUZZ: Robinson had his moments last season (vs. Louisville, vs. Cincinnati) but lacks consistency. It would help if the Orange could add some playmakers on offense. Dantley's dad, Adrian, was an NBA All-Star.

97. STANFORD
STARTER/BACKUP: Tavita Pritchard/Alex Loukas
THE BUZZ: Pritchard led the Cardinal to the epic upset of USC last season. Other than that, though, he was rather mediocre.

98. KENT STATE
STARTER/BACKUP: Julian Edelman/Giorgio Morgan
THE BUZZ: Edelman is talented, but he has had trouble staying healthy.

99. IOWA STATE
STARTER/BACKUP: Austen Arnaud OR Phillip Bates
THE BUZZ: Bates was a high school quarterback who moved to wide receiver last season - then back to quarterback during the spring. Both are mobile, so quarterback runs will be a part of the offense.

100. BAYLOR
STARTER/BACKUP: Robert Griffin OR Blake Szymanski
THE BUZZ: New Bears coach Art Briles had solid quarterback play at Houston, but he had more to work with there. Griffin is a touted true freshman who may be thrown to the wolves.

101. LOUISIANA-MONROE
STARTER/BACKUP: Kinsmon Lancaster/Trey Revell
THE BUZZ: Lancaster is heading into his third season as the starter. The Warhawks need to ramp up their passing attack.

102. SAN JOSE STATE
STARTER/BACKUP: Myles Eden/Kyle Reed
THE BUZZ: Reed, a transfer from California, broke his foot during spring drills. The competition could get interesting when he becomes 100 percent healthy.

103. UNLV
STARTER/BACKUP: Omar Clayton/Mike Clausen
THE BUZZ: Last season's starter, Travis Dixon, has moved to safety. Clayton is a former walk-on who began last season as the fifth-stringer.

104. UAB
STARTER/BACKUP: Joe Webb/David Isabelle
THE BUZZ: The Blazers need Webb to throw, not catch this season. Webb is a good athlete who started eight games at wide receiver last season.

105. AIR FORCE
STARTER/BACKUP: Shea Smith/Eric Herbort
THE BUZZ: At least early in the season, expect these guys to share the job. "Shoot, we might even change (quarterbacks) on different plays," coach Troy Calhoun told the Colorado Springs Gazette.

106. SOUTHERN MISS
STARTER/BACKUP: Austin Davis OR Martevious Young
THE BUZZ: Davis is a redshirt freshman. Young, a sophomore, completed one pass last season. At least productive tailback Damion Fletcher is around to help.

107. COLORADO STATE
STARTER/BACKUP: Billy Farris/Klint Kubiak
THE BUZZ: Farris, a fifth-year senior from Baton Rouge, La., has thrown 39 passes in his career. Kubiak is the son of Houston Texans coach Gary Kubiak.

108. NORTHERN ILLINOIS
STARTER/BACKUP: Dan Nicholson OR Chandler Harnish
THE BUZZ: New coach Jerry Kill says he won't name a starter until the eve of the first game later this week. Nicholson lacked consistency as the starter last season.

109. SAN DIEGO STATE
STARTER/BACKUP: Ryan Lindley/Drew Westling
THE BUZZ: Neither has taken a snap at a four-year school. Lindley is a redshirt freshman and Westling is a junior college transfer.

110. TEMPLE
STARTER/BACKUP: Adam DiMichele/Vaughn Charlton
THE BUZZ: DiMichele, who played junior college baseball for two years before switching to football, missed the final four games last season with a broken leg.

111. UCF
STARTER/BACKUP: Michael Greco/Joe Weatherford
THE BUZZ: Greco, who began his career at N.C. State, is a good runner who must become a more proficient passer. Joe's brother, meanwhile, is the quarterback at Florida State.

112. MARSHALL
STARTER/BACKUP: Mark Cann/Brian Anderson
THE BUZZ: Cann is a redshirt freshman. Anderson, a sophomore, started once last season a loss to I-AA New Hampshire.

113. TULANE
STARTER/BACKUP: Kevin Moore/Joe Kemp
THE BUZZ: Moore, a sophomore, has prototypical size (6-5/234) for a dropback passer.

114. OHIO UNIVERSITY
STARTER/BACKUP: Theo Scott/Boo Jackson
THE BUZZ: Ohio needs to upgrade its passing attack. Jackson, whose real first name is Franshaw, is a touted junior college transfer.

115. AKRON
STARTER/BACKUP: Chris Jacquemain/Matt Rodgers
THE BUZZ: The Zips need more consistency at this position. Rodgers is a redshirt freshman.

116. TROY
STARTER/BACKUP: Jamie Hampton/Levi Brown
THE BUZZ: Hampton played sparingly as a true freshman last season. Brown is a transfer from Division I-AA Richmond.

117. ARMY
STARTER/BACKUP: Carson Williams/Chip Bowden
THE BUZZ: Army has switched to an option-based attack this season. Can Williams handle the switch from a pro-style offense?

118. IDAHO
STARTER/BACKUP: Nathan Enderle/Quin Ashley
THE BUZZ: Enderle threw 18 picks and completed 44.3 percent of his passes last season.

119. UTAH STATE
STARTER/BACKUP: Sean Setzer/Diondre Borel
THE BUZZ: Setzer threw one pass last season. Borel will see time because of his running ability.

120. FLORIDA INTERNATIONAL
STARTER/BACKUP: Paul McCall/Wayne Younger
THE BUZZ: FIU quarterbacks have thrown 19 total TD passes in the past two seasons.

Preseason Power Rankings:
RB | WR | TE | OL | DL | LB | DB | ST | Head Coach | Off. Coordinator | Def. Coordinator

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be heard on Rivals Radio every Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. ET and can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.




 

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