College Football 2011: Pac-12 Quarterback Power Rankings

Sean ClairCorrespondent IAugust 9, 2011

College Football 2011: Pac-12 Quarterback Power Rankings

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    The Pac-12?

    Yes, it may take some time to get used to, but the Pac-10 is gone, and the Pac-12 is here with the additions of Colorado and Utah.

    With two more teams joining the conference, that means two more teams for us to analyze.

    It also means two more quarterbacks are added to the league that is known for its quarterback play.

    The Pac-12 has always been an offensive league, and these QBs should continue that trend this year.

12. Keith Price

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    Keith Price is unproven, and that's why he's so low on the list. He also has a big job in trying to replace Washington legend Jake Locker, who is now in the NFL.

    Price saw some spot action last year due to the injuries to Locker and even played the entire game against Oregon.

    In that game against Oregon Price completed 50 percent of his passes for 127 yards and a touchdown with zero picks. Not bad for your first start ever (especially at Autzen Stadium).

    Price is a guy who can throw and run like Locker, so coach Steve Sarkisian won't have to change the offense too much.

    However, like mentioned above, Price has to replace one of the best (if not the best) quarterbacks in Washington history, and that will be an immense challenge for a young player.

11. Zach Maynard

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    Cal has had some up-and-down quarterback play over the past few seasons, and it's now hoping Buffalo transfer Zach Maynard can fix that.

    Maynard played very well for Buffalo in 2009 when he completed 58 percent of his passes for 2,700 yards and 18 touchdowns, while also running for 300 yards and leading Buffalo to a bowl game.

    Last year for Cal, Kevin Riley and Brock Mansion only managed a combined 2,000 yards and 16 touchdowns, while completing 55 percent of their passes.

    Cal and Maynard are in for no easy task, as the offense loses a big-time playmaker at running back in Shane Vereen to the NFL.

    Cal missed a bowl game last season for the first time since 2002, so Maynard is going to have to find some way to lead this offense and team back to one in 2011.

10. Kevin Prince

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    I kind of had a problem putting Prince here, but the two guys behind him are much more unproven, so I guess he deserves it.

    Prince's problem over the past two seasons has been both the injury bug and inconsistency. However, at times he has shown some rather good promise.

    See his game against Texas last year, when he and the Bruins ran the Longhorns in circles.

    Prince showed good ability in 2009 both running and throwing the ball, but in 2010 he looked terrible in the five games he played, throwing for only 384 yards and three touchdowns with an awful 45 percent completion rate.

    Prince couldn't even practice in the spring due to the knee problem that hurt him last year. However, the opportunity couldn't be taken advantage of by any of the other quarterbacks on the Bruins roster.

    Rick Neuheisel knows his job is on the line for 2011, and he knows he must get better quarterback play from Prince to keep it.

9. Tyler Hansen

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    One of the new quarterbacks to the league will be Colorado's Tyler Hansen.

    The past two years have been up and down for Hansen, as he always had to look over and sometimes move his shoulder as head coach Dan Hawkins' son, Cody, was also a quarterback for the Buffs.

    In 2010, Hansen completed 68 percent of his passes for 1,100 yards and six touchdowns, while playing in the first seven games.

    Both Coach and son Hawkins are now gone, so the job is directly on Hansen for the upcoming season. 

    He has a great tailback in Rodney Stewart behind him, which you think would help him and the passing game.

    Hansen came in with quite a bit of potential, and it's now or never for him to put it on display.

8. Jordan Wynn

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    Jordan Wynn of the Utes came onto the scene in 2009 when he stepped into the team's starting role and performed great, leading to big expectations for 2010.

    He performed well in 2010 despite missing a few games but failed to produce in their two biggest games against TCU and at Notre Dame.

    Wynn completed 62 percent of his passes for 2,300 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2010.

    However, much of that success over the past two years came against the good, but not great competition of the Mountain West Conference.

    Now that Wynn steps up to the better competition of the Pac-12, will he and the Utes be able to perform as well as they have the past few years?

7. Ryan Katz

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    The Beavers were unable to make a bowl game in 2010 due to inconsistent play and a young team.

    Quarterback Ryan Katz had both his high and low moments in his first season as a starter.

    As a sophomore, Katz threw for 2,400 yards and 17 touchdowns while completing 60 percent of his passes despite losing one of his main targets, James Rodgers (knee injury), early in the season.

    Katz will look to build on his performance from 2010 as Rodgers returns from that injury, while Markus Wheaton is back after a great 2010 season.

    Katz will be relied on more in 2011 as the Beavers' leader, Jacquizz Rodgers, in now in the NFL.

6. Brock Osweiler

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    Arizona State is the favorite in the Pac-12 South division for the 2011 season, and for good reason.

    ASU returns a load of starters from last year's team, including junior quarterback Brock Osweiler.

    Steven Threet started much of last season for the Devils, but when he went down at the end of the year, Osweiler stepped in and played well.

    The 6'8" quarterback threw for 800 yards with five touchdowns and no interceptions, with most of that action coming in the last two games of the year.

    The defense proved to be solid for ASU, so for the offense to have success, Osweiler will need to continue his solid play from last year and not his 2009 play in which he could never grab the starting job.

    It's a big year for ASU, as Dennis Erickson's job is on the line, and he will look to ride Osweiler to a much better season.

5. Jeff Tuel

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    Jeff Tuel has been the only good thing the past few years from a terrible Washington State program.

    The Cougars have combined for a 3-21 record the last two seasons. Ouch!

    However, despite the terrible record, the Cougars played better last season and were in some tight games. Much of that is because of Tuel.

    Last season, Tuel threw for nearly 2,800 yards and had 18 touchdowns, while completing 60 percent of his passes.

    Paul Wulff has much to prove this season, or else his tenure at Wazzu is finished.

    Luckily, he has Tuel to rely on and a solid receiver in Marquess Wilson, who is Tuel's main target. Look for those two to build on the success they had last year together.

2. (Tie) Matt Barkley

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    Matt Barkley improved his play in 2010 and has even higher expectations in 2011.

    Despite USC's first season under a postseason ban from the NCAA, Barkley played extremely well, throwing for 2,800 yards and 26 touchdowns, while raising his completion percentage by four points and improving his TD to INT ratio tremendously.

    USC is heading into another season of a postseason ban, which will again leave it somewhat out of the spotlight. However, the Trojans should be better than last year with another season under Lane Kiffin.

    Barkley should look to have an even better season than last, as it will be his third straight season as a full-time starter.

    Running back Marc Tyler is suspended for the first game, but once he gets back, look for Barkley to lead a very balanced USC offense.

2. (Tie) Darron Thomas

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    The Oregon Ducks made it to the national title game last year driven by a high-powered offense.

    Much hype went to running back LaMichael James, but the main reason the Ducks got that far was due to their stellar quarterback, Darron Thomas.

    Thomas is a true spread dual-threat quarterback. He completed 61 percent of his passes for 2,900 yards with 30 touchdowns. He also ran the ball for nearly 500 yards and five touchdowns.

    Jeremiah Masoli proved the Ducks system works in 2009, but Thomas was able to master it in 2010 and put this team on the map.

    Oregon comes into this season ranked third with another championship game on its mind, and to get there, it'll need to ride the shoulders of Thomas.

2. (Tie) Nick Foles

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    The Arizona Wildcats had a terrible finish to the 2010 season, losing five straight games, including an embarrassing loss to Oklahoma State in the Alamo Bowl.

    Nick Foles could take blame for some of it, as he did make some ill-advised throws, but not many, as he enjoyed a rather good season.

    Without any sort of a running game Foles threw for 3,200 yards and 20 touchdowns, while completing 67 percent of his passes.

    He was also fantastic at leading late game-winning drives, doing it twice and what should have been a third against rival ASU if it wasn't for kicker Alex Zendejas.

    The Wildcats must replace their entire offensive line, which could hinder Foles, but he should enjoy another good season with one of the best receiving corps in the country.

1. Andrew Luck

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    Andrew Luck returns for his senior season at Stanford after forgoing being the No. 1 pick in this year's NFL draft.

    You can't really fault him for his decision; with the uncertainty that was of the NFL at the time, it was understandable. He wants to earn his degree, which is great to see from a college athlete.

    Oh yeah, he also has a chance to lead Stanford to another good season and possibly win the Heisman Trophy.

    Last year, Luck threw for nearly 3,400 yards and 32 touchdowns, while completing 71 percent of his passes and rushing for 453 yards.

    Stanford has to replace some key players who graduated and replace head coach Jim Harbaugh, who left for the San Francisco 49ers.

    With Luck leading the team, though, Stanford should enjoy another good season with his name right up there among the Heisman front-runners.