Quarterback derby updates: USC, Auburn and more

With just over two weeks until the first college football Saturday of the year, let’s take a look at how some of the quarterback races around the country are going.


It was a three-way race to replace Matt Barkley going into camp, with early-enrollee freshman Max Browne and redshirt sophomores Cody Kessler and Max Wittek competing for the spot. Earlier this week, head coach Lane Kiffin announced that Browne had been eliminated from the race and it was between the two elder Trojan players.

It’s a nice problem for USC, with all three options ranked in the Rivals Top 100 of their respective recruiting classes. (Browne is the 7th overall prospect and number one quarterback in this year’s class.) Kessler’s experience is limited (he threw two passes in a blowout win over Colorado last season), while Wittek started the final two games of the season after Barkley’s injury. He was solid and showed off a big arm in a loss to Notre Dame, but struggled mightiy in the bowl game against Georgia Tech, going 14-for-37 and throwing three picks.

Whoever wins the job will have some toys to play with, as all-universe receiver Marqise Lee will be on one side and stud sophomore Nelson Agholor on the other.


New head coach Gus Malzahn is getting antsy to name his starter, saying the decision could come any time between now and Monday. His options narrowed earlier this week, when last year’s starter and former top recruit Kiehl Frazier pulled a Ray “Voodoo” Tatum and moved to safety. (If this follows the same arc as “Friday Night Lights,” Frazier will now transfer and play against the Tigers in the Texas state championship game.)

Malzahn’s two main options haven’t played a snap for the Tigers, meaning that they’ll have a new starter for the 7th straight season. Nick Marshall is a junior college transfer who started his career as a cornerback for Georgia before moving to Garden City Community College in Kansas, while true freshman Jeremy Johnson is a Rivals Top 100 recruit who Malzahn has already praised for having an NFL arm. Both have performed well in scrimmages and seem to have left a third option, Jonathan Wallace, behind. A sophomore, Wallace played in nine games last year, throwing for 720 yards, four touchdowns and four picks.


Whoever is named quarterback in Sonny Dykes' first year will have to keep his arm loose in the Bear Raid offense. Dykes is down to two young candidates, redshirt freshman Zach Kline (Rivals No. 44 overall prospect in last year's class) and true freshman Jared Goff (four-star, No. 140 overall prospect for the Class of 2013). They both have looked good in camp, and Dykes hasn't implied a decision is imminent.

UPDATE! It's Goff, so apparently a decision was imminent:

West Virginia

It’s Clint Trickett’s world and we’re all just living in it. Dave Hickman of the Charleston Gazette has some details:

For the second time this week - and only the second time during WVU's two weeks of preseason camp - West Virginia scrimmaged briefly during the open part of practice Thursday. And for the second time, Trickett took the field with the No. 1 offense.

Unlike the first time, however, on Thursday Trickett took every snap with the starters, while Paul Millard and Ford Childress split the time with the No. 2 offense. When the team went through the same drill on Monday, Childress also worked with the first team.

Trickett threw for 974 yards and seven touchdowns during the 2011 and 2012 seasons for the Seminoles. Helping the transition from the Geno Smith/Tavon Austin/Stedman Bailey trio of video game numbers will be Houston transfer Charles Sims, who will likely be the starting tailback after three productive seasons with the Cougars.

Texas Tech

Things are getting a little weird in Lubbock, as they are wont to do. It initially looked like redshirt sophomore Michael Brewer would be replacing Seth Doege in new head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s offense. Brewer appeared in a majority of the Red Raider games as the backup, going 34-for-48 for 375 yards and four touchdowns.

But it looks like Brewer might have an injured back, severity unknown thanks in part to a media blackout put in place by Kingsbury. This opens the door for early enrollee freshman Webb Davis, who has garnered some nice reports from practice but isn't a particularly heralded recruit. Kingsbury has said the two were neck-and-neck, but he also did that last year at Texas A&M before naming one Mr. Johnny Manziel as the starter.

Penn State

Head coach Bill O’Brien enters the post-Matt McGloin Era with a couple of interesting options, and according to the second-year coach, there isn’t a favorite at the moment. First you have junior college transfer Tyler Ferguson, a sophomore who arrived in State College in January from the College of the Sequoias in California, where he threw for over 2600 yards and 22 touchdowns during the 2012 season. Competing against him is Christian Hackenberg, one of the top freshman quarterbacks in country (Rivals 24th overall prospect) who didn’t early enroll. O’Brien has stressed that no matter who won the job, the other guy was going to get to play.

Races with starters announced

David Watford was named the starter at Virginia. A redshirt sophomore, Watford appeared in ten games in 2011…To the surprise of no one, Gary Pinkel has named James Franklin Missouri’s starter for the upcoming season via, which is a real website.

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