From the "Headlines we never thought we'd write" department, we bring you the following.
But it's obvious through nine weeks in the 2013 season that, with the exception of Baylor and Texas Tech, the Big 12 isn't the offensive juggernaut it has been in recent years. In 2012, seven of the Big 12's 10 teams ranked in among the Top 25 scoring teams, according to NCAA stats. This year? Only three teams can say that: Baylor (No. 1), Texas Tech (No. 19) and Oklahoma State (23rd).
There are myriad reasons why offenses are generally down in the Big 12, but Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy has a theory: nine-game schedules and a lack of NFL-caliber quarterbacks. Via the Tulsa World:
Unless you have an NFL type quarterback playing for you, you’re susceptible every week, based on the other areas that sometimes don’t show up if the quarterback you have playing on your team is an NFL-type player. Otherwise, you’re susceptible.
And I don’t think that’s just this conference. I think that’s all over the country.
Looking around the Big 12, there aren't many players like Brandon Weeden, Sam Bradford or Geno Smith—at least not right now. You'd probably be hard-pressed to even find another Collin Klein.
From top to bottom, the quarterback position hasn't been a strength in the Big 12. Not coincidentally, nine Big 12 teams have, for one reason or another, used more than one quarterback. Only Baylor's Bryce Petty (2,453 yards, 18 touchdowns and a single interception) has been the unquestioned No. 1 in the quarterback spot week to week.
As a result, Petty is a sure lock as the best quarterback in the Big 12, but who's next? It's a question that's already been posed by the likes of ESPN's Jake Trotter and Fox Sports' David Ubben.
It's a muddled group. Four starting quarterbacks—Texas' Case McCoy, Oklahoma's Blake Bell, Texas Tech's Davis Webb and West Virginia's Clint Trickett—didn't begin the season atop the depth chart, but made their way up because of injuries. Other teams, like Kansas State and Iowa State, have been splitting reps among two quarterbacks. Oklahoma State and TCU have gone back and forth between starters.
It becomes harder to rank a position when it's a revolving door.
Technically, Webb has the next-best passing numbers with 1,812 yards, 13 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He's guided Texas Tech to a 2-1 record in three starts and certainly wasn't the reason the Red Raiders lost to Oklahoma in Week 9.
Webb started because of a knee injury to fellow freshman Baker Mayfield, but he's asserted himself as a No. 1 guy over the past few games. He also has the luxury of throwing to the best receiver in the conference: tight end Jace Amaro.
But then there's Bell, who is 5-1 as a starter after taking over for the injured Trevor Knight in Week 3. Oklahoma's offense has been much more run-heavy in 2013, so Bell's numbers (1,348 yards, 10 touchdowns) aren't as prolific.
He's had his ups and downs, but Bell's best game of the season (against teams not named Tulsa) came in that very win over Texas Tech. The redshirt junior overcame a tough start to throw for 249 yards and a pair of touchdowns to Jalen Saunders.
Then, believe it or not, there's McCoy. What he lacks in physical ability, he more than makes up for in confidence, leadership and an uncanny ability to win close games in the final minutes. He's 3-1 as a starter since David Ash was sidelined with a head injury.
"You can see that [McCoy] is very well liked and well respected by his teammates," Kansas coach Charlie Weis said on Monday's Big 12 coaches teleconference. "As a backup QB, it’s tough to assume that leadership role. With McCoy, it’s obvious he’s stepped up into that role."
McCoy has been known to throw a few "arm punts" down the field, but he's also made some pretty throws to receivers Mike Davis and Marcus Johnson against Oklahoma and TCU. McCoy has benefited from a vastly-improved defense and a hard-nosed running game. Those two areas have made McCoy look a lot better and minimized the impact of his mistakes.
You could even throw Kansas State's Daniel Sams into the mix. Sams splits time with JUCO transfer Jake Waters, but the Wildcats' offense has started to pick up as Sams has developed into a key component of the run game. However, Sams and Waters have had their share of turnover problems.
If there's one thing the aforementioned quarterbacks have in common, its their ability to lead, even if they didn't begin the year as the starter. As crazy as it sounds, McCoy has done it better than anyone. So if the question is who is the second-best quarterback in the Big 12, the answer is Case McCoy.
Just don't expect everyone else to feel the same. [/Ducks to avoid flying objects]
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. All quotes obtained firsthand unless noted otherwise. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval.
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