With a long history of stellar college Quarterbacks, at one point in time, we were referred to as Quarterback U. Those days have fallen by the way side since the graduation of Mr Husky Killer, Alex Brink. Hell, I got depressed when I did a Google search for "WSU Quarterback."
Some of the auto-generated searches that returned:
WSU Quarterback injury
WSU Quarterback liver
WSU Quarterback in hospital
WSU Quarterback in ICU
WSU Quarterback injured
How flipping depressing is that? Wow, it burns my retinas just looking at that. Now with all that being said, with Coach Leach's vaunted Air Raid Offense being employed this Spring, one thing is for certain. It won't be long before we're referred to as Quarterback U again.
This morning I am going to take a look at our QB sitch heading into Spring Ball, and sometime in the near future, I will be back with a preview of our Running Backs. Click the jump for more.
Yesterday Longball gave you his thoughts on Leach's Zero Tolerance Policy. If you missed out, quite the discussion came about, thanks for all your comments. There is nothing we love more than to hear what our reader's think. Our good friend Victory Bell also shared their thoughts on the situation over he weekend.
With that out of the way, what do you think about the QB sitch on the Palouse? Last year Jeff Tuel goes down amid controversy in the first quarter of the first game, and eventually returns to supplant Marshall Lobbestael by mid-October. Only THEN to go down with a new injury his first game back against Oregon State! Enter RS Fr Connor Halliday, who takes the reins from The Lobster in the first quarter against ASU and throws up one of the gaudiest stat lines in the history of our program (494 yards and 4 TD's)! Then, getting the start against Utah the following week, Halliday struggles early, rallies the team to within inches of the victory, all while playing with a lacerated liver!?!
If this isn't the most intriguing position battle this spring, than I don't know position battles.
Jeff Tuel, Senior, 6'3", 220 lbs
Tuel and the coaching staff are currently petitioning the NCAA for an additional year of eligibility, but until we hear otherwise, let's just assume he's a Senior. Tuel hopes to return to form in his final season, after a disappointing 2011 campaign in which his name was uttered in the same sentence as Foles and Barkley heading into 2011. Tuel has shown the moxie, leadership and grit you want in a quarterback, but it's sad to think he only has two wins in his career(!). I guess that's what you get when the program goes 7-30 and yields 100+ sacks since you started playing. I am a firm believer that Tuel has the arm and accuracy to succeed in Leach's system, but then again, looking at Leach's ten years in Lubbock, which starting QB didn't succeed under the air raid system? The questions here are how is he doing healthwise and how does he handle the competition from Halliday?
Connor Halliday, RS Sophomore, 6'4", 185 lbs
Other than mop up duty against Idaho State and UNLV, Halliday saw his career thrust into the spotlight when he came off the bench to supplant a cold Marshall Lobbestael vs. ASU. How did he respond? With a night for the ages, throwing for 494 yards and four touchdowns in the Cougars’ 37-27 win over Arizona State! Wulff gave Halliday the starting nod the following week, on Senior Night no less. With bowl eligibility on the line, he was shaky at first throwing three picks in the first half against a tough Utah defense. But just when it looked hopeless, Halliday rallied the Cougs in the final minutes. In a downright blizzard, he came just inches shy of pulling off the second upset in as many weeks! And by inches, yes, it was inches.....
After the game, it was revealed that his liver was lacerated (insert "only at WSU!" joke here) after taking a nasty hit from a Utah defender in the first quarter. Not a whole lot of light has been shed on the health of Halliday since the season ended, other than he is recovering nicely from the injury. Like Tuel, it appears Halliday has all the tools to become a star under Leach. But maybe the big question here is will his time be in 2012, or will we it be starting in '13?
Cody Clements, RS Fr, 6'2", 205 lbs
Cody enrolled at Wazzu last summer after a storied senior season at La Habra HS in the Los Angeles area. In Clements' final two seasons in high school, he threw for more than 4,100 yards and a whopping 61 touchdowns against only six interceptions! Prior to his senior campaign, he was rated the rated the No. 1 QB in all of Orange County by the Orange County Register. And some services actually had Clements rated ahead of five star prospect and current USC QB, Max Wittek. While it would take a miracle as epic as the Cougs sweeping the Pac 12 tourney this week to see Clements jump in front of Tuel and Halliday in 2012, it looks as though we the makings of a solid third string QB with upside. I would even say that we should look for Clements to possibly get his first taste of playing time in week two or week three this season when we face Eastern Washington and UNLV. Hopefully he takes to the film room this spring and summer and gets some valuable reps throughout the offseason.
David Gilbertson, RS Junior, 6'1", 200 lbs
Gilby, the son of longtime UW assistant and HC Keith Gilbertson, enters his fourth year in the program and is the definition of an unknown for Coug faithful. According to his bio at WSU Athletics, he was a senior at Redmond HS. But did you know that while playing at Redmond his senior year, Gilbertson was second-team All-KingCo, while throwing for 1,977 yards and 13 touchdowns and four rushing touchdowns?? From the above picture my buddy Grimmace snapped at the OSU game last year, it appears he's really good at relaying plays to the QB. Other than that, speculating on his ability at the Pac 12 level seems a bit, I don't know, how about premature? One would imagine he is the fourth string QB come September, behind Tuel, Halliday and Cody Clements.
I would say our 1-2 Punch of Tuel and Halliday, however it winds up, is as formidable as any in the conference. Since Leach is not only the head coach, O-coordinator and QB coach, there is no doubt that who ever emerges as our starter will have definitely earned the job. It will be interesting to see if Leach names his guy by the end of spring or if he waits right up until the middle to end of fall camp to do so. Call me crazy, I know ya'll did last week, but my money is on Tuel being named starter by April 13th. But there is some good-looking depth here at QB, and that's a good thing.
That's all for this morning. Don't forget to check back soon for my look at Running Backs. GO COUGS!
Let's not forget all of the broken spinal cords.
Amazing when you think about this discussion, and CPW told the media that he simply forgot to play Halliday in the CAL trouncing as Lobster was throwing the game away. Tuel is the man, I believe in CPW and his evaluation of talent.
Looking at the stats available, Tuel has a 59.8% completion rate when throwing out last years injury riddled performance. Halliday has a 57% passer rating from last year. The emphasis on accuracy in Leach's system is what is the driving factor in this offense. That and the ability to make pre snap reads and adjustments. While 59% and 57% aren't great numbers the lack of protection and running game during most of these games skews the numbers down. Both of these QB's have shown the ability to progress through the reads once the ball is snapped. That makes the ability to catch the formations at the line and adjust the calls before the snap and then drop it in the basket as the factor that will determine who comes out on top. I have to give the edge to Tuel and his experience of seeing two years worth of PAC defense in live play. They both will be burning the midnight oil in the film room and who ever is the better study will get it.
I agree with your comment " It will be interesting to see if Leach names his guy by the end of spring or if he waits right up until the middle to end of fall camp to do so." I recently read somewhere a quote from Leach saying he would know within the first week of practice who would be the starter. I also have to agree with Evercoug that I can't wait for the season to begin. It's way to early to be feeling this way.
If hands are anything to go by, if we get down to Cody Clements, there won't be any fumbles! Holy moley, they're big...
Its going to be interesting. In my view, Tuel has to establish himself as THE GUY for the team and for this offense from the get go in spring AND fall camp. With Leach clearly taking the long view toward the program re-build--especially when you consider the youth on defense and at the WR position, you can bet he's licking his chops at the prospect of having another 3 year starter a la Kingsbury.
So, if Tuel is going to be the one hit wonder, Leach is going to have to be convinced that he can be a ONE HIT WONDER.
Personally, I think Tuel is special and I think he'll do wonders for our offense. But I also believe his position is much more tenuous than many believe.
@WallaCoug it has to do with batteries in the keyboard that are dead or rapildy dying. Also a syndrome called "fat fingers". It strikes without notice or remorse.
The nice thing ablut the "stable" QA's and receivers is by mid season Leach can probably trot any combination of them onto the field with success. He says he likes patterns to about 35 yards since that seems to be the best distance for receivers to get downfield before the ball gets there on most plays. Imagine if you will as many as 8 or 9 receivers able to run the DB asses off during the first half then watch them play just enough deeper to complete passes underneath with YAC to really have them looking for their jocks, shoes, breath and then the sideline for help.
Nice scenario don't you think.
The down side is the other team may be able to do something similar to our DB's and linebackers.I personally think Tuel is going to be "the guy". It's his job to lose. Hallilday will be pushing him like crazy. It wouldn't surprise me to see him (Halliday) getting some meaningful PT in the 3rd Qtr if we're ahead. Let him get something more than mop up minutes. Gotta love the depth at some of the positions.
Which ever QB is better at making fast decisions and releasing the ball faster will win the job. Tuel has not exactly been known for this in his time at WSU, but a huge part of that has been the O-line and the previous scheme.
Spring game should be fun.
I too believe we are in a very good place at QB. No matter who the starter is by September, it will be the right choice. Leach loves quick thinking, accurate QB's per some interviews he has given this offseason, and that accuracy is the hardest thing to teach. Both guys when healthy have shown decent arm strength, and Tuel is likely the more accurate of the two. Given he is a senior, a healthy Tuel should be the guy by fall camp! But it will be fascinating to watch it all unfold. Maybe Halliday is so good once he is healthy that they just have to go with him? Cant WAIT!
Our QBs are some tough SOBs.
Their injuries last year were a broken clavicle, compartment syndrome and a lacerated liver. That sounds more like a plane crash than a football season. You gotta hand it to them, not a lot of sprained ankles and blisters on the throwing thumb from these guys. Halladay is a legend for playing a real live division 1 football game (in a blizzard) with a major organ split open and Tuel came back from a dislocated kneecap to play an entire season in which he was sacked just under 300 times.
I think this is Tuel's to lose being that he is more experienced and will have a whole Spring head start in the new offense. I also think this is ideal because in 2013 Halladay will be bigger, stronger, more experienced and behind an O-line more accustomed to their new system. That could mean more 400+ yard games with significantly fewer lacerated livers. That is also the year Blair Bomber will win the Heisman.
Tuel by all rights should go into spring ball as #1. Halliday should be #2 as you say. That said, either could end up the starter come fall. There is no controversy here, only competition, and it will only make the entire team stronger.
With a new coach and system in-place, especially a HC who is so hands on with this position, I don't think the job is Jeff's by any right.
@LucasNurmi I think its simply a matter of one is healthy and will get the majority of the Spring reps and one is not. Whichever one that was would have the advantage.
@LucasNurmi I thought that Tuel was full participant and Connor was still recovering. Is that not the case? If they are both participating equally this thing is wide open.
@Longball I thought Connor was going to be a full participant this Spring? Do we know Tuel is 100%? He was like Franklin Gutierrez last year.
I think Tuel has a huge advantage over Halliday for starter, as he'll be fully healthy during spring, and Halliday won't.
I think that Halliday will push Tuel a bit in the fall, but the job will be Tuel's to lose at that point. And I recall that Tuel had a great spring and fall camp prior to last season.
With Halliday's legendary game against ASU, I think it's easy to see that he has a huge upside, and lots of folks have anointed him as the next great WSU QB. But it's also easy to forget just how good Tuel is.
I'm really intrigued as to how each QB does under Leach. Sturdy did a hell of a job with both QB's, but Leach is supposed to be remarkable at developing the position. Should be really fun to see what he can do with a couple of really talented kids.
The competition will bring the best out in all of them. I am trying to wait and see, but can't help but speculate at the possibilities. If both the offense and defense pick up the new system quickly enough to be effective with it, then I am hoping that translates to some blowouts where the second and third strings get some playing time. I like what I hear about Leach as being one that does not let off the accelerator. He just puts the back ups in and keeps the pedal to the metal. I like everything I have read so far like the fast pace, giving the QB the green light to change the play at the line anywhere on the field, running a receiver long three plays in a row to tire out the DB, then changing out the receiver and going at him again. The first game will be telling. The expectation is high for sure, but how fast can we expect Leach to implement his plan? Leach has some great alternatives for QB so whoever wins the starting role, will surely have the most golden of opportunities before them with an entire Cougar Nation waiting to see how dynamic we can be right off the bat.
I live in Cheney, and with EWU's recent success, a lot of the Eagle fanbase is pretty cocky about their chances against the Cougs in the Cougs first home game of the season back in the newly remodeled Martin Stadium and the beginning of the Leach Era. I just say, let's wait and see and drive away with my new crimson Cougar plates. I've never been so giddy about the start of the football season...and this early too. Is it September yet?
Dude, I cannot wait for football season to start. This season is going to be a total blast.