For six Big 12 teams; the 2013 season will usher in a new starting quarterback. For most conferences, this would be an unsettling prospect—that's a lot of unknowns in a conference known for prolific passing attacks.
But the talent under center or in shotgun this fall will be spectacular. It's almost unfair. Who are these new young guns? And who will impress us the most?
Bryce Petty, Baylor
The hype is real over Bryce Petty. The junior quarterback went 13-of-15 for 181 yards and two touchdowns under windy conditions in Baylor's spring game. And he did so against a much improved Bear defense.
Head coach Art Briles made us forget 2011 Heisman winner Robert Griffin III when Nick Florence lit up secondaries last year. And now we have Petty to make us forget Florence? The fun never ends in Waco, Tex.
Petty is our new Cinderfella in the Big 12.
Michael Brewer (?), Texas Tech
We can count on new head coach Kliff Kingsbury improving the Red Raider quarterback play dramatically. There is one problem—Kingsbury hasn't named a starter yet. It's between sophomore Michael Brewer and freshman Davis Webb.
Brewer played in nine games last year. According to Texas Tech's website, he went "34-of-48 for 375 passing yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions with a 70.8 completion percentage."
Blake Bell, Kendal Thompson or Trevor Knight, Oklahoma
Oklahoma's offense is loaded but who will be its field general? The sentimental favorite is Blake Bell but he hasn't proven his mettle beyond short-yardage packages. We know he can run for a first down on 3rd-and-2 but can he sustain long drives and put points on the board?
Trevor Knight blew the socks off his teammates and coaches while playing on the scout team. Kendal Thompson is exciting to watch when he takes off and runs but that has to scare coaches. The offseason should see him working on pocket patience and letting the play develop.
If the defense can recover from substantial losses then the onus won't be on the quarterback to make every play and that bodes well for the Sooners.
Jake Heaps, Kansas
This is Kansas football so not a lot is expected after Weis' second year in Lawrence but the team did do some things right last season.
It reduced its scoring differential in losses significantly from 2012's 21.5 points to last season's 17.8. Its defense did have periods of brilliance albeit it hasn't shown that in four consecutive quarters. But Kansas' biggest problem has been its offense, specifically the passing game.
With Heaps under center and running back James Sims back for another year, Kansas should improve. We'll see Weis' trademark—the corner end zone fade—but we should also see a new bag of tricks which will enhance Heaps' abilities.
Heaps could be a real surprise if Kansas can continue to establish the running game.
Daniel Sams or Jake Waters, Kansas State
Kansas State should be set at quarterback judging by these spring game statistics courtesy of the Associated Press:
Ed Zurga/Getty Images
Daniel Sams threw for 391 yards and Jake Waters passed for 249 as the two ended their spring competition Saturday to replace Collin Klein as Kansas State's quarterback.
The purple team beat the white team 76-3 and Waters and Sams each got two quarters with the first-string offense.
76-3? Obviously head coach Bill Snyder didn't employ one of those fancy schmancy scoring systems that gives defense points for stopping a drive or forcing a turnover. The quarterbacks also played against the defense's second string team.
He's a tricky one, Snyder is. His team will probably get minimal respect since everyone is gone. And most sportswriters will be shocked at how well Kansas State bounces back at quarterback in the post-Klein era.
Ford Childress, Paul Millard or Clint Trickett, West Virginia
As exciting as West Virginia's offense and head coach are, this fall will be another exciting season but for all the wrong reasons. Head coach Dana Holgorsen has no idea who will start at quarterback nor at 20 or so other positions.
This is going to be a nail-biter season for Mountaineer fans.
Ford Childress throws a nice ball but is untested. Paul Millard has the playbook down and 50 career passes on his resume. Clint Trickett just transferred from Florida State. There is no doubt that whoever starts at quarterback will eventually succeed under Holgorsen's system.
But not this year. The offense will struggle this fall.
Note: TCU, Oklahoma State, Texas and Iowa State all return quarterbacks who started games last season.