Pre-season position primer – The Quarterbacks
For the first season really since the Brink-era (and even then it was never really set in stone), the first string quarterback position is locked down by a single player before the season starts.
Jeff Tuel, from his debut against USC two seasons ago as a true freshman, seemed destined for this position and rightly so. Tuel is a fantastic QB, with dual-threat capabilities, natural leadership and that wonderful thing called “poise.”
Put all of that together, and add in the fact as a very young and green QB, he was thrown in to the gauntlet – Pac-10 play with a terrible offensive line for two seasons – and you’ve got a kid with a dangerous amount of seasoning to go along with all of the above.
The talent is there, the experience is there, and there’s little doubt that the targets are there, but two questions remain: Can the Cougs run the ball and can they keep opposing defenses from planting Tuel in to the ground on every-other pass play?
Let’s suppose that a line comprised of four seniors and one very good sophomore can step up. Let’s also assume that the combination of Logwone Mitz and Rickey Galvin are going to be good enough to at least keep defenses honest.
If that’s the case, it’s going to be a very good season for Jeff Tuel and his corps of impressive receivers.
1. Jeff Tuel 6-3, 223 Junior
As a true freshman, Tuel was thrown in to the fire, making his first start of his collegiate career (and becoming the first true freshman to start a game since Drew Bledsoe) in the Coliseum against USC. He managed to play well considering what he was up against, and saw time in 6 games that season, completing 58.7% of his passes on his way to 789 yards, 6 TDs and 5 interceptions.
Last season, Tuel proved that he was a legitimate threat in the conference and rose to become one of the Pac’s best QBs by season’s end. He threw for an average of 231.7 yards per game, had 18 TDs, 12 INTs, and completed 59.8% of his passes.
Like I said before, if Tuel is given time and has a running game to keep the defenses from sitting back, he will feast this season. You just watch.
2. Marshall Lobbestael 6-3, 215 RS Senior
Having a backup QB with as much experience as “The Lobster” has is truly a luxury. He’s played in 20 games in his WSU career, has started six, and although he saw much less action last season, he knows the offense very well and will certainly step up when called upon.
3. Connor Halliday 6-4, 179 RS Freshman
Halliday red shirted last season after a stellar high school career where he led the Ferris Saxons to a State Championship his senior year.
So far in camp, Halliday has ran heavily with the 3rd string, and had a nice showing in the team’s first scrimmage, completing five of his seven passes for 96 yards.
4. David Gilbertson 6-1, 201 RS Sophomore
Gilbertson, a former walk-on, appears to be buried in the depth chart, but of course, you never know. You’ll certainly remember the situation a couple of years ago when the Cougs held “Necessary Roughness”-like open tryouts for QB.
5. Cody Clements 6-1, 197 Freshman
Clements, barring any horrendous QB injury situations like the one above, will likely red shirt this season. The future is bright for the Orange County product, though. Think about these numbers in his senior season: 66.5 completion percentage. 2067 yards. 32 TDs. ONE interception.