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Roundtables: PAC-12 QBs.

Which QB will reign supreme?

NCAA Football: Arizona at California Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

With most Pac-12 teams breaking in a new QB, which team do you see needing the most immediate impact at QB? Which teams can take their time breaking in a new QB?

boomtho: My simple answer is that teams with (a) new coaches and/or (b) low expectations don’t necessarily need their new QB to make an immediate expectation, while teams with incumbent starters or higher expectations do need their QB’s to make an immediate impact. Therefore, I’ll go ahead and say OSU, Utah, and Cal, all of which may have new QB’s (though incumbents will challenge), need immediate impact a little less.

Nick Kranz: The three highest profile departures (Rosen, Darnold, and Falk from UCLA, USC, and Wazzu) are all intriguing for different reasons.

UCLA is interesting because of the challenge of finding a quarterback that can make the Chip Kelly offense truly hum. While Devon Modster was listed as a dual threat QB, he hasn’t exactly flashed much as a runner in his (admittedly limited) playing time. Wilton Speights is an interesting transfer but also about as immobile as a quarterback gets. Might Kelly go in a more inexperienced direction? Nobody seems to have much of a clue as fall camp approaches.

Washington State is probably the team that most needs somebody to step up with big production, both because the Cougar defense is likely to take a step back this year and because the Leach offense relies on QB production as a baseline anyway. But they don’t have a QB on the roster who has taken D1 snaps. The QBs on the roster with the best recruiting profiles happen to be 1st or 2nd year players, and the veterans are mostly JC/CC transfers. It is in this moment that we must mention the tragic death of Tyler Hilinski, who would have been the front runner for the starting position.

And USC of course has all the talent they could ask for, but the most likely candidates to replace Darnold aren’t quite the typical blue chip QB recruits one might expect (though they of course have a 5 star true freshman QB arriving on campus this fall). Still, I think there is a legit possibility that USC falls back towards the rest of the conference a bit unless either Matt Fink or Jack Sears impresses quickly.

So to answer the actual question . . . Wazzu needs the most pure production, but it’s USC that needs a strong performance from their inexperienced QB to actually live up to the conference-title-contending expectations that USC has and will continue to have in perpetuity.

Andy Johnston: I’d like to make a case for USC being the team that needs a quarterback to succeed this year. SC fans have been illogically upset with Helton’s record the last few years and we all know how much this team struggled prior to having an elite talent like Darnold. I haven’t gotten to the point of choosing Cal to beat USC on the road but I don’t think this Trojan team competes for the Pac-12 south title unless they catch lightning in a bottle at the quarterback position.

Rob Hwang: I concur with Nick here. Wazzu needs the most production at QB in order for that offense to move the chains and score points. The system is predicated on the QB’s arm to open up the entire offense. On the other side, SC needs to break in a new QB but with that running game that features ridiculously talented Stephen Carr, they could easily run a run-first-play-action offense that lets the QB hit targets in rhythm and protects him from difficult reads with a solid run game. This is interesting because all but 3 teams in the Pac-12 return their starting QBs from last season. Only USC, UCLA, and WSU are replacing starting QBs, but UCLA had Devon Modster take snaps last season due to injury. QB play in the Pac-12 this year could be very good across the board if overall development has even a slight upward trend across the board.