By Shane Bidwell
More than a few teams either having a surplus of talented quarterbacks itching to take the field, meanwhile other teams have a glaring hole at the signal caller position that must be addressed. I decided to look into the major QB battles heading toward the 2018 season, and tried to provide predictions.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish
In contention- Brandon Wimbush, Ian Book, Phil Jurkovec.
How it will shake out- Wimbush started off the 2017 campaign red hot leading the Irish to a 4-1 record heading into the North Carolina game. After the game against the Heels Wimbush’s statistics started to take a dip culminating into a bowl game benching in favor of Ian Book. Book played against UNC as Wimbush was out that came and struggled a bit, however Book did come in for relief in the Citrus Bowl. In the bowl game Book looked polished and played with a chip on his shoulder leading the Irish to a gritty 21-17 victory over LSU. Finally there is Phil Jurkoec the 4 star pocket passer out of Pennsylvania. On film Jurkovec can make the necessary throws and is also a solid game manager, however he did struggle against elevated competition in the Army All America Bowl. Expect Book to get the nod, and Wimbush to pursue transfer options at the end of the 2018 season.
In contention- Shea Patterson*, Dylan McCaffery, Brandon Peters
How it will shake out- I put an asterisk in front Patterson because it is yet to be seen whether he will have his eligibility. If Patterson is granted eligibility this becomes a no brainer and he will start immediately. However if Shea can’t play then the competition should be between Peters and McCaffery. Peters played well in his limited snaps although he did turn in a subpar performance against South Carolina in the Outback Bowl. All reports out of Ann Arbor are McCaffery ran the scout team beautifully, and he is ready to step into a bigger role. Patterson should earn his eligibility and be good to go, however if not expect McCaffery to get the nod and turn some heads this year.
Alabama Crimson Tide
In Contention- Jalen Hurts, Tua Tagovailoa
How it will shake out- Hurts has already won a national title for the Tide and had a better campaign last year than he did the previous year. Despite great stats Hurts really struggled on the big stage against Georgia, thus opening the door for Tua to play. Tagovailoa came in to relieve a struggling Hurts in the national title and capture another national title for Bama. Tua threw for three touchdowns and one pick leading to one of the greatest comebacks in national championship history. Due to his heroics expect a heated battle in Tuscaloosa for the starting job. I predict Tagovailoa will put together a strong performance this spring and earn the starting job for the Tide.
Ohio State Buckeyes
In Contention- Dwayne Haskins, Tate Martell, Joe Burrow
How it will shake out- Martell took a year to redshirt and learn the system, and all signs say he is adjusting to the college game well. The former Gatorade High School player of the year will push the older QBs on the roster for the starting job. Haskins looked sloppy early in the season, but really turned it on against Michigan. In last year’s edition of “The Game” he stepped up and looked like a seasoned veteran in the limited snaps he got. Burrow has a strong arm but isn’t quite athletic as the other two. He can hit tight windows and push the ball down the field, so if Urban Meyer wants to air it out with accuracy Burrow would be the wise choice. The Buckeyes thrive on quarterbacks who can make plays on the ground and through the air. Haskins will get the nod due to his dual threat ability and maturity in the pocket, expect him to make major noise in the Big Ten this year.
In Contention- Kelly Bryant, Trevor Lawrence
How it will shake out- Bryant was less than impressive through the air throwing only 13 touchdowns coupled with 8 picks. While he managed to get the Tigers back to the playoff he often struggled against superior competition. Bryant gave an awful performance against Bama which resulted in heightened talks of a competition. Incoming freshman Trevor Lawrence is one of the highest rated QB recruits of the modern era. Lawrence’s ability to drop balls into tight windows deep down the field has earned him comparisons to a young Payton Manning. The Tigers have typically relied on dual threat quarterbacks in the past, but look for them to make the switch to a pocket passer this year in starting Trevor Lawrence. No matter who they start I could see the Clemson QB becoming a serious Heisman contender.