Quality QBs dot Pac-12 landscape
AP College Football Writer
PHOENIX — The Pac-12 has long been known as the conference of quarterbacks, from Jim Plunkett and John Elway to Matt Leinart and Andrew Luck.
This year’s crop, with 10 returning starters and some talented newcomers, may be the best in the conference’s rich quarterback history.
“I’ve never seen anything like this, where you have multiple guys in our conference that you could say could be the No. 1 overall pick in the draft,” Stanford coach David Shaw said. “Guys who could be All-Americans and could lead the nation in passing; that could be five or six guys this year.”
The Pac-12’s quarterbacks got the season off to a solid start, putting up some big numbers, even if many of them didn’t play full games.
Here’s a rundown of the conference’s quarterbacks, with what they accomplished in their team’s opener and what they have next:
Marcus Mariota, Oregon. A Heisman Trophy finalist last season, he’s one of the favorites to win it this season after deciding to return to Eugene. Agile and accurate, he is the perfect fit for Oregon’s dynamic offense and could be the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s NFL draft. First game: 267 yards, 3 TDs in a half of the 62-13 rout of South Dakota. Next up: No. 7 Michigan State.
Brett Hundley, UCLA. Like Mariota, he passed up a chance at the NFL to play one more collegiate season. One of the most athletic quarterbacks in the nation, he can beat teams with his arm and his legs. First game: 242 yards passing, 60 rushing in 28-20 win over Virginia. Next up: Memphis.
Taylor Kelly, Arizona State. Look at Kelly now and it’s hard to believe there was ever a question about who Arizona State’s starter should be. Since winning a tight QB battle, he’s racked up school records and wins in the desert. First game: 238 yards, TD in first half of 45-14 win over Weber State. Next up: at New Mexico.
Sean Mannion, Oregon State. The fifth-year senior led the Pac-12 in passing yards and TDs last season and cut down on his turnovers. He’s become more of a leader this season and is a perfect fit for the Beavers’ pro style offense. First game: 328 yards, TD in 29-14 win over Portland State. Next up: at Hawaii.
Cody Kessler, USC. He had some shaky moments last season before coming on strong late in the year. Kessler picked up new coach Steve Sarkisian’s offense quickly and had a fantastic start to his junior year by guiding the Trojans to one touchdown after another in a rout over Fresno State. First game: 394 yards, four TDs in 52-13 win over Fresno State. Next up: at No. 13 Stanford.
Kevin Hogan, Stanford. He may not be flashy, but he wins: Two Pac-12 championships and two Rose Bowl berths. First game: 204 yards, three TDs passing, another score rushing. Next up: No. 14 USC.
Connor Halliday, Washington State. Interceptions have been a problem in the past, but Halliday puts up big numbers. He set a school record with 4,597 passing yards last season and tied another with 34 TDs. First game: 532 yards and five TDs in 41-38 loss to Rutgers. Next up: at Nevada on Friday.
Anu Solomon, Arizona. Emerged from a four-way battle to become the starter and set a school freshman record in his first game. Not bad. First game: 425 yards, four TDs in 45-14 win over UNLV. Next up: at UTSA on Thursday.
Travis Wilson, Utah. Wilson nearly had his career come to an end when doctors found arterial damage in his brain. Now that he’s been medically cleared, he’s one of the most exciting passers to watch, which can be good and bad. First game: 265 yards, TD in 56-14 win over Idaho State. Next up: Fresno State.
Sefo Liufau, Colorado. He didn’t become the starter until halfway through the 2013 season, but still set school freshman records for passing yards and touchdowns. First game: 241 yards, two TDs passing, 47 yards rushing. Next up: at Massachusetts.
Jared Goff, California. He was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise-dismal 2013 season, setting freshman school records for passing yards and total offense. First game: 281 yards, three TDs in 31-24 win over Northwestern. Next up: Sacramento State.
Cyler Miles, Washington. Suspended for the opener for his role in two assaults Super Bowl night, he was named the starter this week after Jared Lindquist failed to move the offense in a win over Hawaii. Next up: Eastern Washington.
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