Who is the best quarterback in the Pac 10?

It’s a simple question, with a not so simple answer. John David Booty, Dennis Dixon, and Alex Brink have moved on to join their other Pac 10 brothers in the NFL. What’s left behind, for probably the first time in years, is the lack of one quarterback really standing in the national spotlight. Before Booty, there was Leinart. Before him, it was Palmer, Anderson, Harrington, and Boller. And now I look at the 2008 conference starters, wondering who is the best of the bunch.

Mark Sanchez. USC: With only 3 starts under his belt, Sanchez is still fairly unknown by the national media. He was once the top High School quarterback in the country, but wasn’t as heralded as J.D Booty. What Sanchez will give you is a Carson Palmer and Matt Leinart rolled into one. He can power the ball downfield with a cannon , or float it in with a light touch. Sanchez also offers another dimension that both Leinart and Palmer did not. He’s a mobile quarterback who isn’t afraid to tuck the ball and run. 2008 should no longer show that statuesque figure in the backfield, though it does increase the injury potential.

Rudy Carpenter, Arizona State: I can just concede that Arizona State’s Rudy Carpenter is the leader of the Pac, based on some mock draft sources already projecting him as a first round quarterback selection in 2009. But that information isn’t really conclusive, because it really only says he’s one of the best seniors in the country. Of the senior starting quarterbacks, Rudy may be the best in the conference. But if pooled with underclassmen, is he? If there is no improvement on the Sun Devils offensive line, we’ll never know how good Carpenter is. The line surrendered 55 sacks in 2007, which only makes for a bad quarterback, and a bad QB he has been.

Nate Longshore, Cal: Nate Longshore’s college career has been hot and cold. At times, he’ll show flashes of brilliance, but other moments can leave you head scratching. He’ll be put through the most severe test in 2008, after losing the targets of Lavelle Hawkins and DeSean Jackson to the NFL, along with Justin Forsett, who provided run support.

UCLA’s Quarterback By Committee: The Bruins have the quarterback guru, in Norm Chow, but don’t have a true QB. Ben Olsen will get the opening start, but only because the named starter (Patrick Cowen) is gone for the season, recovering from a torn ACL in the spring. Ben Olsen was another highly touted quarterback recruit, but has failed to live up to his billing. He possesses a large frame and good vision, but his lack of mobility kills him. Though he’s large, he’s fragile, and it will be interesting to see if he survives the Tennessee game unscathed.

Willie Tuitama, Arizona: Now familiarized with the Sonny Dykes offense, Willie Tuitama may finish the season as the Pac 10 statistical leader for quarterbacks. He should appear in the likeness of Graham Harrell of Texas Tech, where Dykes called plays, before being hired by Stoops last year. Unlike Mark Sanchez, Tuitama is limited in offensive weaponry, but playing in that pass happy Wildcats system should give him more pass attempts, completions, and yards. He showed maturity in 2007, and if he limits his mental errors, he may just be the best quarterback in the Pac 10.

Jake Locker, Washington: Locker is already God-like in the Emerald City. With Dennis Dixon gone, he represents the most mobile quarterback still in the conference. He is the West Coast version of Tim Tebow, but his weapons aren’t comparable. UW’s entire success is based on the play of Jake Locker. Athlon Sports has him on “Heisman Watch”, recognizing Jake as one of the best players in the country. Would that make him the best quarterback in the Pac 10? With only a year behind him, the expectations are high, as the Husky faithful look for him to be the next legend of the Lake.

Sixty percent of the conference is represented in this piece, and I still have no clear cut answer. But that’s why they play the games, so the the listed individuals can provide us with one.

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~ by Anthony on July 20, 2008.

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