14 Programs That Will Have a Hard Time Replacing Their Starting Quarterbacks

Carl Stine@@CFBAllDayCorrespondent IFebruary 10, 2012

14 Programs That Will Have a Hard Time Replacing Their Starting Quarterbacks

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    The 2011 football season was littered with incredible performances by talented quarterbacks.

    Interestingly enough, neither of the top two teams at the end of the season had a quarterback that anybody would consider to be near the top 15 in the country.

    However, there is no doubt that the quarterback position is one of the key positions on any squad.

    This upcoming season, there are several teams that must replace extremely good starters at the position that contributed immensely to their teams' success.

    This list runs down which programs will have a tough time filling that gap.

14. NIU Huskies

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    Chandler Harnish has been the heart and soul of the Huskies offense for the past few seasons.

    Besides his obvious talent as a passer, Harnish had the ability to do damage with his feet, and led his team to the MAC title in 2011.

    Dave Doeren will have a tall order replacing and molding his replacement.

13. Florida Gators

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    John Brantley was nothing to write home about for the Gators, but there was a reason he was the starter in 2011.

    He was the best option.

    While the drop-off is slight heading into 2012, Will Muschamp still has a quandary facing him.

    Jacoby Brissett and Jeff Driskel are the two guys who are likely to compete for the position, and neither of them have been particularly impressive during limited playing time.

    2012 will not be a good season for the Gators offense.

12. Cincinnati Bearcats

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    The Bearcats limped along without Zach Collaros for portions of this season.

    However, Collaros scored 59 total touchdowns over the course of his career, and was the catalyst for a Cincinnati offense during his time with the program.

    The prospects are not entirely grim, as Munchie Legaux is prepared to take over, and will be even better than last season, when he spelled Collaros during his injury.

11. Notre Dame Fighting Irish

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    Yes, Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix are still around.

    However, the Irish have been looking for an adequate replacement for Crist for some time now, and thus far, Brian Kelly has come up empty.

    With Crist's departure for the greener pastures of Kansas(?), the quarterback situation is no closer to being resolved than it was at the beginning of 2011.

    That said, Kelly has been able to foster some great quarterbacks in his coaching career, so he will undoubtedly have some good ones with the Irish...

    ...just not this season.

10. Michigan State Spartans

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    Spartan fans, we are all aware that Andrew Maxwell has been in the program for several years, studying under Kirk Cousins, and is ready to pick up where Cousins left off.

    Let's not underrate Captain Kirk.

    The guy never lost to Michigan, and was one of the most cerebral passers in the country during his time with Sparty.

    On top of that, Maxwell must deal with the decimation of a talented group of receivers.

    It's going to be an uphill climb all season.

9. Arizona Wildcats

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    Nick Foles was the most underrated quarterback in the country.

    This was due to the fact that he played on an abysmal team.

    Nine out of the Wildcats' 12 games in 2011, he threw for over 350 yards, and two of those were 398 yards outings.

    Without Foles' transcendent quarterback play in 2012, Rich Rodriguez is going to have a tough time making any progress toward turning this program around.

8. Texas A&M Aggies

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    The Aggies already have their hands full entering a new conference, especially the toughest conference in the country.

    Toss in Ryan Tannehill's absence, and it could be a recipe for disaster against stout SEC defenses.

    On top of all that, the Aggies have a new coach and must also deal with other key losses to offensive skill positions.

    Tannehill and that cowboy hat will be missed.

7. Tulsa Golden Hurricane

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    Case Keenum was not the only great quarterback to move on from C-USA in 2012.

    G.J. Kinne, Tulsa's quarterback, had some pretty solid seasons, throwing for more than 2,700 yards in each of his three seasons as a starter, and more than 25 touchdowns in each of the past two seasons.

    Tulsa has suffered some turmoil over the past few seasons with a coaching change and some solid play in 2011.

    Will the curve continue upward in 2012 with Kinne's replacement?

    We shall see.

6. Stanford Cardinal

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    It's Andrew freaking Luck for crying out loud.

    Don't tell me that losing him is not going to affect the Cardinal to some degree.

    Whoever winds up taking snaps for David Shaw will also have to learn without the benefit of protection from David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin, two All-American linemen who departed for the NFL.

    The list of potential replacements is long:

    Josh Nunes, Brett Nottingham, Robbie Picazo, Kevin Hogan and Evan Crower are going to battle it out during spring practice, and whoever wins will be under all the pressure that two straight BCS top five finishes can bring to the face of a program.

5. Houston Cougars

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    Case Keenum set FBS records for career total offense and career touchdown passes.

    He is also the only FBS quarterback in history to gain 5,000-plus yards in three seasons.

    Talk about tough to replace.

    It's like trying to replace Charlie Sheen on Two and a Half Men.

    No matter how good the replacement is, he won't ever be that good.

4. Oklahoma State Cowboys

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    Brandon Weeden and his primary target Justin Blackmon have moved on to greener pastures.

    The Cowboys never seem to have much trouble under Mike Gundy in replacing pieces in their offense, but Weeden's contribution to the program must not be undersold.

    Clint Chelf, if he gets the nod, has his work cut out for him.

3. Boise State Broncos

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    Whatever you might think of Boise State, you have to admit Kellen Moore is an iconic figure in the game of college football.

    The man went 50-3 as a starter during his career at BSU, and left holding the record for most wins by a quarterback in FBS history.

    Recent history suggests the Broncos will have some difficulty replacing him, as evidenced by post-Tebow Florida, post-Cam Auburn and post-Colt McCoy Texas.

    Whoever takes the next shot at the quarterback position here, whether Joe Southwick, Grant Hedrick, Jimmy Laughrea or Nick Patti has some legendary shoes to fill.

    Ask John Brantley how that works out.

2. Wisconsin Badgers

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    Russell Wilson, in one year as quarterback at Wisconsin, amazed fans and opponents alike with his ability to avoid pressure, make the play downfield or scramble for positive yardage.

    He led the Badgers to a Big Ten title and Rose Bowl appearance, and was a key part of the success of an offense that averaged over 40 points per game.

    The Badgers have nobody with significant game experience to take his place.

    Incoming recruit Bart Houston could make a splash, but he still has little experience in the college football universe.

1. Baylor Bears

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    Art Briles has his hands full heading into the 2012 season.

    Robert Griffin III is a legend in the history of Baylor football, a track star, excellent quarterback and the first Heisman winner in the history of the program.

    Whoever the Bears field to replace RG3 can not possibly have the deep-ball accuracy or excellent decision making that Griffin brought to the field.