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How each Big Ten team stacks up at quarterback entering 2013

[ 0 ] August 1, 2013 |

Take heart, Iowa football fans. You’re not alone.

When it comes to the quarterback position, most Big Ten Conference teams are fumbling for answers.

Ohio State’s Braxton Miller is a bona fide Heisman Trophy contender. Nebraska’s Taylor Martinez has accounted for 9,449 total yards the past three seasons.

After that, things get a little dicey.

Big Ten passing yardage leaders in 2012  | Quarterback ratings in 2012

While the Hawkeyes’ three-man drama – featuring Jake Rudock, Cody Sokol and C.J. Beathard – continues to play out, at least six Big Ten rivals are facing some sort of quarterbacking dilemma.

Where does this put Iowa? Well, here’s how each team stacks up at the game’s most important position:

1. Braxton Miller, Ohio State: Imagine what the 6-foot-2, 215-pound junior can do, now that he has a better grasp of the playbook?

“I feel a lot more confident than what I was last year,” Miller told reporters during the Big Ten’s preseason meetings in Chicago. “It just changes my mindset. It’s like ‘Dang, I know what I’m actually doing.’’’

Miller accounted for a school record 3,310 yards of total offense while acclimating to offensive coordinator Tom Herman’s scheme. Senior backup Kenny Guiton broke his right pinky finger this summer, but should be ready when the season begins.

2, Taylor Martinez, Nebraska: A talented runner who improved his completion rate from 56.2 percent in 2011 to 62.0 last season. Matinez finished with a career-best 2,871 passing yards and 23 touchdowns, while rushing for 1,019 more. Redshirt freshman Tommy Armstrong is No. 2 on the depth chart, followed by senior walk-on Ron Kellogg III.

3. Kain Colter/Trevor Siemian Northwestern: The Wildcats boast the best quarterback combo in the conference. Colter spent time as a receiver, with 60 career catches, and has averaged 5.1 yards on 334 rushing attempts. But don’t let that fool you. He’s a capable passer, completing 66.2 percent of his attempts. If the Wildcats fall behind, Siemian is a strong-armed substitute.

4. Devin Gardner, Michigan: When Denard Robinson was sidelined with an elbow injury last fall, Gardner switched from receiver to quarterback. He started five times under center and accounted for at least two touchdowns in each of those games.

5. Andrew Maxwell, Michigan State: It’s unfair to blame Maxwell for the Spartans’ 7-6 finish in 2012. He was a respectable 234 of 446 passing (52.5 percent) for 2,606 yards and 13 touchdowns, with revamped receiving corps.

6. Nathan Scheelhaase, Illinois: Ankle and knee injuries slowed the senior from Kansas City last season. Illini coach Tim Beckman said last week Scheelhaase is the starter “right now.” It seems unlikely Reilly O’Toole or Aaron Bailey would win the job, but it might have been interesting if Wes Lunt were eligible to compete. Instead, the Oklahoma State transfer will have to wait until next season, because of NCAA rules.

7. Cam Coffman/Tre Roberson/Nate Sudfeld, Indiana: All three played last fall, with mixed results. Coffman put up solid numbers: 61 percent completion rate, 2,734 yards, 15 touchdowns. Roberson began 2012 as the starter. Sudfeld has the best arm strength.

8. Danny Etling, Purdue: Highly-touted recruit enrolled early and went through winter workouts, in hopes of being the starter. That doesn’t mean Etling will beat out Rob Henry, who has completed 107 of 200 career passes for 1,212 yards. New coach Darrell Hazell would prefer to settle on one guy.

9. Joel Stave/Curt Phillips/Tanner McEvoy, Wisconsin: McEvoy began his college career at South Carolina, then moved to Arizona Western Community College. His journey took a bizarre turn when he was mugged last Sunday in Madison, Wis. The Badgers get an edge over Iowa and Penn State’s quarterbacks simply because Stave and Phillips have game experience.

10. Jake Rudock/Cody Sokol/C.J. Beathard, Iowa: All three showed promise during spring drills, but none has ever taken a snap for the Hawkeyes. Rudock seems to be a slight favorite, but don’t be surprised if Sokol or Beathard gets a chance to show what they can do once the season starts.

11. Tyler Ferguson/Christian Hackenberg, Penn State: Ferguson is the junior college transfer from California. Hackenberg is the five-star recruit from Virginia. Steven Bench, another possible contender, transferred to South Florida in the spring.

12. Philip Nelson, Minnesota: The sophomore from Mankato, Minn., has plenty of room for improvement. He completed less than 50 percent of his passes as a freshman and threw eight interceptions in seven starts.


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Category: Iowa Hawkeyes Football

About Andrew Logue: Andrew has been with the Des Moines Register for 19 years, covering everything from preps to Hawkeye and Cyclone sports, as well as the Drake Relays. View author profile.

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