Graduation takes a toll on Big 12 QB production
Charleston, W.Va. • The Big 12's reputation of producing top-notch quarterbacks has been handed a setback by graduation, injuries and ineffective play.
Still, many coaches aren't worried. They believe the next crop of heralded signal-callers will show up eventually.
"Every now and then you get a big graduating class of them and you're waiting for the new guys to step up and carry that reputation," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said Monday. "I'm sure there'll be guys as we go through the next year or two who will be those guys again."
As the Big 12 looks for the next Landry Jones, Nick Florence, Geno Smith or Collin Klein, two QBs have emerged to give the pass-happy league hope that the future will get here quickly.
Fourth-year junior Bryce Petty is the latest quarterback at Baylor, and Texas Tech walk-on freshman Baker Mayfield has posted some staggering numbers entering the start of conference play.
"I know there's some young guys who are doing some good things," said Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury. "But it's way early. Once we hit the heart of the conference, you'll see some of those young quarterbacks emerging as stars not only in this league, but around the country."
Kingsbury is certain that Mayfield could take the star label to heart if he earns it.
Mayfield has completed 64 of 90 passes for 780 yards and seven touchdowns without an interception in wins over SMU and Stephen F. Austin. He'll get a test Thursday night against No. 24 TCU.
"If he can continue to raise his level of play, he could handle the situation," Kingsbury said. "He has a huge chip on his shoulder. He has goals in mind and wants to prove a lot of people wrong. That's going to help keep him focused."
TCU coach Gary Patterson recalled that Mayfield attended a camp in Fort Worth, but the Horned Frogs didn't offer him a roster spot.
"For whatever reason, we didn't pull the trigger," Patterson said. "Obviously we're not very smart in doing some things. But we also didn't offer Johnny Manziel.
"Baker's done an unbelievable job his first two ballgames. I think he's a winner. We've got our hands full this week."
No. 22 Baylor leads the nation in total offense at 737 yards per game thanks in part to Petty, who has completed 32 of 40 passes for 650 yards and four touchdowns without an interception.
Petty waited to start behind Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III and the record-setting Florence last season.
"Bryce's identity is being written as we're talking," said Baylor coach Art Briles. "It's his turn and he's prepared for it."
Several Big 12 teams already have had to play more than one quarterback.
J.W. Walsh had a successful start last week for No. 12 Oklahoma State, going 24 of 27 for 326 yards and four TDs in a win over Texas-San Antonio. The sophomore came on in relief of Clint Chelf in the season opener.
Trevone Boykin takes over at TCU while Casey Pachall is out indefinitely with a fractured left arm suffered last week in a win over Southeastern Louisiana.
Boykin won three Big 12 road games last year as a freshman in replacement of Pachall, who missed the final nine games after leaving school for substance abuse treatment.
No. 14 Oklahoma and West Virginia have struggled to find the proper heirs for Jones and Smith, respectively.
Sooners freshman Trevor Knight suffered a bruised knee against West Virginia, and Oklahoma's Stoops said he'll miss at least one game. Veteran Blake Bell will start Saturday against Tulsa.
And Texas is evaluating quarterback David Ash for Saturday's game against No. 25 Mississippi after he hurt his right shoulder and took a blow to the head in a loss at BYU.
At West Virginia, quarterback Paul Millard is getting some heat from coach Dana Holgorsen after going 21 of 41 for 218 yards with an interception in the loss to the Sooners.
Holgorsen said changes will be made to his offense, although he wouldn't say whether Millard or Florida State transfer Clint Trickett would start against Georgia State on Saturday.
Other new starters in 2013 trying to solidify their footing include Jake Waters at Kansas State, Sam Richardson at Iowa State and Kansas' Jake Heaps, a transfer from BYU.
Whether it'll take a few weeks, a few months or maybe another year, coaches say future headline grabbers are probably already playing.
"There's unknowns right now, obviously," Holgorsen said. "You look at what we're going through. There's a lot of schools that are going through it. That's just the nature of graduating quarterbacks. Last year was a special year.
"There's been other years with a tremendous amount of quarterbacks. You've got guys that have won Heisman trophies and have been first-round draft picks. I think that's what the Big 12's all about. There's probably plenty of good quarterbacks in this league who are young and inexperienced that are going to grow into great players."