[vc_row][vc_column][vc_single_image image="4021" img_size="large"][vc_column_text]Welcome to Mike Farrell's 3-point stance
National Columnist Mike Farrell is here with the biggest QB questions in each Power Five conference, reasons why UCLA is the sleeper to watch in the PAC-12 South and some offensive player comps in the NFL Draft.
Not all quarterback situations are the same. While teams like Alabama and Ohio State have depth and riches, others need a starter. Here are the biggest QB questions in each Power Five conference.
SEC: LSU - Who wins the free-for-all?
The competition is going to be wide open at camp this summer, as Jayden Daniels joins Myles Brennan and five-star true freshman Walker Howard. On top of that, Brian Kelly will be implementing an entirely new system where each of these three guys has very different skill sets. It's one of the top battles in the country.
Big Ten: Wisconsin - Can Graham Mertz consistently deliver?
The Badgers will go as far as Grahm Mertz takes them next season, and the former no. 2 quarterback recruit in the country needs to make good on his talent if he's going to lead Wisconsin back to the Big Ten title game and the Rose Bowl.
ACC: Clemson - Will DJ Uiagalelei be pushed?
The former top recruit in the country struggled mightily in his first full season as starter. True freshman Cade Klubnik is all the talk of spring camp, so be prepared for a very close battle during the summer. And the Hunter Johnson return is a nice wrinkle on the side.
Pac 12: Cal - Can Jack Plummer be a full-time QB?
The Golden Bears brought in Purdue transfer Jack Plummer to replace Chase Garbers, who had started for the better part of four seasons in Berkeley. Plummer split time with Aidan O'Connell for most of 2019 and 2020 before O'Connell took over full-time last season. It appears that Justin Wilcox and staff are betting that he can be a full-time guy, because there's not a ton of depth behind him.
Big 12: Texas - Can Quinn Ewers live up to the hype?
Ewers shocked many when he reclassified last September and enrolled at Ohio State in large part due to NIL arrangements. However, the former top prospect in the country, and one of the top-rated prep quarterbacks of all time, is back in his home state, and expectations are through the rough. If he can play anywhere close to his ceiling, this is a Longhorns team that should be able to play with anyone.
— We’re almost done with the dark horse candidates in each Power Five conference as we look at the Pac-12 South and five reasons why UCLA can surprise.
Before last season, it was widely rumored that Chip Kelly was on the hot seat, but after a big early-season win over then-ranked LSU, the Bruins finished 8-4 before having their bowl game canceled due to the coronavirus. It was their best finish during Kelly's tenure, and this feels like a program that is moving in the right direction.
2. DTR's fifth year
Dorian Thompson-Robinson returns for a fifth season as the starter in Westwood following his breakout performance in 2021. He had 30 total touchdowns and only six interceptions, finally unlocking all of Kelly's schemes. There's definitely a renewed sense of confidence in both DTR's play and Kelly's play calling.
3. The Return of Zach Charbonnet
It was a bit of a surprise that Charbonnet decided to come back for a fourth season in his collegiate career after a terrific 2021. He proved to be one of the highest impact transfer players in last year's class, rushing for 1,137 yards and 13 TD's. The former Wolverine would have likely been among the top 10 backs taken in this year's draft.
4. Incoming Defensive Talent
The Bruins' defense is losing a lot of guys off of last season's roster, including Jay Shaw, Quentin Lake, and Otito Ogbonnia. However, the Bruins brought in what is easily the best defensive transfer class in the Pac 12. It starts with the Murphy twins, Gabriel and Grayson, who come over from North Texas and are both strong pass rushers. Azizi Hearn is an underrated addition at corner and should be able to take over for Shaw. Add in linemen Gary Smith and Jacob Sykes, and you've got a strong, deep defensive class that should improve on a unit that took a couple of steps forward last season.
5. Chip Kelly's Renaissance
It took a couple of seasons for Kelly to rebuild a UCLA program that had really started to deteriorate at the end of the Jim Mora Jr. era. It all clicked last season however, and at times the Bruins offense was one of the most efficient and effective in the country. With the continuity that they have this season, they'll have a great chance to be right there with Utah and USC this season, especially because they host both of those games in the Rose Bowl.
— And finally how about some comps of the top offensive players in the NFL Draft. Some are to current NFL players, others to former stars and some of these are admittedly lofty.
OT Evan Neal, Alabama — You’re going to think I’m crazy but I think he’s Orlando Pace. Yes, a Gold Jacket guy.
OT Ickey Ekwonu, NC State — No one really remembers Andre Smith do they? He had a very solid NFL career and has same body type and physical nature.
WR Drake London, USC — So easy here — it’s obviously Mike Evans.
WR Garrett Wilson, Ohio State — I see a lot of similarities to Calvin Ridley here as a route runner and high point guy.
WR Chris Olave, Ohio State — Olave reminds me of Ted Ginn Jr. another former Buckeye who had a very solid career.
OT Trevor Penning, Northern Iowa — Kyle Turley and there is no one else.
OT Charles Cross, Mississippi State — He’s Ronnie Stanley to me and that’s a good one for anyone.
OC Tyler Linderbaum, Iowa — Jeff Saturday all day.
OG/OC Zion Johnson, Boston College — Damien Woody went to Boston College as well and played center for 11 seasons.
QB Malik Willis, Liberty — His low center of gravity, ability to run and erratic passing screams Jalen Hurts.
QB Kenny Pickett, Pitt — He’s Andy Dalton to me, an average NFL starter.
WR Jameson Williams, Alabama — He’s a little bigger but I see DeSean Jackson here.
WR Treylon Burks, Arkansas — Give me DK Metcalf.
OG Kenyon Green, Texas A&M — He’s a tough one to me but give me Duane Brown.
QB Matt Corral, Ole Miss — He’s Derek Carr to me which isn’t so bad.
RB Breece Hall, Iowa State — Ezekiel Elliot comes to mind although Hall is a bit more upright as a runner.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]