College Football 2012: 10 Quarterbacks Doomed to Underachieve
If your friend would've told you at this time last year that the quarterback from Baylor was going to win the Heisman Trophy in the fall, what would you have said?
Other than the obvious concern for his or her mental health, you would likely have boasted how Oklahoma's Landry Jones and Boise State's Kellen Moore were locks to attend the trophy ceremony, and Baylor could never produce a Heisman Trophy winner because, well, because they're Baylor.
As it turns out, your seemingly crazy friend was right. Quarterback play in college football is highly unpredictable. Who would have thought Jones would still be in Norman? Who would have thought Dayne Crist and Garrett Gilbert would be at Kansas and SMU respectively? Not me and probably not anyone.
As the 2012 season quickly approaches, here are 10 quarterbacks who will receive plenty of attention leading up to kickoff but are likely to disappoint once toe meets leather in less than three months.
James Franklin, Missouri
It's been a busy year at Missouri. First came the move to the SEC in early November, followed a week later by head coach Gary Pinkel's DUI arrest. Once the calendar turned to 2012, however, the news turned to the status of Franklin's right shoulder, which he injured in the spring.
The junior is not yet 100 percent but is expected to be ready for the Tigers' inaugural season in the SEC. However, duplicating his 3,846 yards of total offense last season in the Big 12 will be an arduous task, likely without injured running back Henry Josey and against a schedule that includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.
Iowa State and Kansas aren't around anymore. After a season of facing SEC defenses, Franklin might be wishing they were.
Collin Klein, Kansas State
2011 was a magical season in Manhattan, as Bill Snyder continued his second resurrection project with the Wildcats. Kansas State won 10 games for the first time in eight seasons and earned a bid to the Cotton Bowl.
Luck was on the 'Cats side for much of the season, as the team went 7-1 in games decided by a touchdown or less. However, they also lost by 41 at home to Oklahoma.
Klein is asked to do more than almost any quarterback in the country thanks to his size and threat as a runner. His numbers will still be fantastic but expect the team to take a step back this season against a difficult schedule if they don't catch as many breaks as they did a year ago.
Taylor Martinez, Nebraska
The quarterback known as "T-Magic" burst onto the national scene as a redshirt freshman in 2010 when the Cornhuskers raced to a 5-0 start.
Martinez would fade down the stretch as he battled injuries, and his sophomore campaign was marked by inconsistency. Nebraska finished a mediocre 9-4 after failing to score more than 20 points in its final four games.
Martinez will have backfield mate Rex Burkhead alongside him again, but his passing continues to limit the 'Huskers offensive firepower. It's hard to succeed in the Big Ten with a one-dimensional offense, and Nebraska will fall short of the Big Ten championship game once again.
A.J. McCarron, Alabama
We saw two different A.J. McCarrons last year in the Crimson Tide's two meetings with LSU. The stage appeared a bit big for the sophomore in Alabama's overtime loss to the Tigers in Tuscaloosa. However, two months later with the national title on the line, McCarron was unflappable in a 21-0 victory.
There's little to complain about in terms of talent in Tuscaloosa, but the Tide still lack a big-play threat in the passing game. With Trent Richardson off to the NFL, McCarron is searching for weapons. Nick Saban doesn't often ask quarterbacks to win games on their own. With arguably the best defense of all time, McCarron didn't have to do so a year ago.
Things may change in 2012 with a retooled defense. The offense may have to produce some comeback victories for the Tide to defend its national title. Can McCarron continue to shine with a heavier burden on him?
Stephen Morris, Miami (FL)
There was a mass exodus from Coral Gables this past January, including star running back Lamar Miller, leading receiver Tommy Streeter and stud offensive lineman Brandon Washington. In short, Morris has little to work with as he begins his first season as the full-time starter for the Hurricanes.
Like his predecessor Jacory Harris, Morris has been turnover-prone in his handful of starts over the past few seasons. An interception returned for a touchdown stalled a potential game-winning drive in his only start last year.
With inexperience surrounding him and games against Florida State, Kansas State, North Carolina, Notre Dame and Virginia Tech, it could be a long season for Morris and Miami.
Casey Pachall, TCU
Pachall had the unenviable task of replacing four-year starter Andy Dalton last season and led the Horned Frogs to 11 wins and their third straight Mountain West title. He led a furious rally against Baylor that ultimately came up short and pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the season when TCU upset Boise State.
Now, Pachall and the Frogs face life in the Big 12. Moving to a BCS conference took its toll on fellow former Mountain West member Utah last season, with quarterback Jordan Wynn struggling to stay healthy and the Utes finishing just 4-5 in league play.
Toughness is of little concern for the gritty Pachall, but the upgrade to a new league should cause his numbers to drop a bit from last season.
Tanner Price, Wake Forest
Wake Forest was one of the most surprising teams in the country last year, coming within three points at Clemson of playing in the ACC championship game. The Deacons were led by Price, a scrappy southpaw who is at his best outside of the pocket.
As a sophomore last season, Price topped 3,000 yards passing and threw 20 touchdowns. Don't expect a repeat performance this fall. Leading receiver Chris Givens is gone, and the schedule includes road trips to Florida State, Virginia, N.C. State and Notre Dame.
Price is the type of overachiever whom Jim Grobe has created so often through his decade-plus tenure in Winston-Salem, but the junior may have reached his high point a year ago.
Denard Robinson, Michigan
Everything seemed to go right in Ann Arbor last season, as the Wolverines won 11 games after winning just 15 in the previous three seasons under Rich Rodriguez. Much of the credit for the turnaround goes to Robinson, who adjusted to an entirely new offense under coordinator Al Borges with great unselfishness.
Robinson's greatest weapons remain his legs, but he's asked to throw more than in the previous system. Many of his trademark "moonballs" fell into the right hands last season, but they could work against the Wolverines this season without leading receiver Junior Hemingway.
With expectations now sky-high for the winningest program in college football history, one has to wonder if Robinson and Wolverines can duplicate their success of a year ago against a schedule that includes Alabama, Nebraska, Notre Dame and Ohio State, all away from home.
Logan Thomas, Virginia Tech
Thomas was called "a poor man's Cam Newton" heading into the 2011 season. While he will never be mistaken for the 2010 Heisman Trophy winner, Thomas did have his share of shining moments last year, including a masterful 23-of-25 performance in a comeback win over Miami (FL).
However, the Hokies say goodbye to running back David Wilson and receivers Jarrett Boykin and Danny Coale this season. Thomas will have to carry the load even more so than a year ago.
He's a special talent and will have a great defense to help him out, but a supporting cast full of unknowns could cause his numbers to fall off from last year's pace.
Tyler Wilson, Arkansas
Wilson will be the consensus All-SEC quarterback heading into the season, but the loss of top targets Greg Childs, Jarius Wright and Joe Adams should not be overlooked. In addition, projected starting receiver Marquel Wade was recently arrested, and in case you were stranded on a desert island, play-calling guru Bobby Petrino was fired as head coach during spring practice.
The fifth-year senior had a lot of help last season as the Razorbacks won 11 games for the first time in 34 years. He does welcome back running back Knile Davis who missed last season, but the Hogs are still a pass-first team. Wilson set the bar high a year ago.
Reaching that mark two years in a row in the SEC is no easy task.