By: Zack Marseglia
With spring practices right around the corner for college football, there are many burning questions facing next years season. Quarterback battles, surprising players, and surprise teams occur every year, but this year is going to be wild.
First, let’s start with the obvious: Who will start at quarterback for Alabama next year? Jalen Hurts, the two year starter entering his Junior season, only has two losses in his career. However, his limitations as a passer we exposed down the stretch. Teams began to force him to throw, and it halted the Alabama offense. Georgia dared Hurts to beat them, and Hurts was 3-8 for 21 yards in the first half, and facing a 20-3 deficit. Tua Tagovailoa played nothing but garbage time prior to the National Championship game. With the game on the line, Tua engineered a stagnant Alabama offense to a high powered engine, going 14-24 for 166 yards and 3 scores to bring the National Championship back to Alabama. This however, has created quite the battle in Tuscaloosa. Who will start at quarterback? Starting multiple quarterbacks is out of the picture; Saban knows it doesn’t work, and he has to pick a guy and roll with him. If it were up to me, I would roll with Tua. His ability to hit sideline to sideline, and his ball placement is excellent for a redshirt freshman. He can also make plays with his legs. If Saban opens up the passing game for this kid, look for his name contending for the heisman, because Tagovailoa is a special talent at quarterback.
Oddly enough, Georgia has a quarterback dilemma on their hands as well. Jacob Eason, the opening day starter, suffered a season ending injury, and thrusted Jake Fromm into the starting role. Fromm responded by falling a miracle comeback short of winning a national title. Eason and Fromm are both very talented quarterbacks, who I feel are very similar. Both need some refining with their footwork, but have the potential to make it at the next level. The question is who do you go with? I think Fromm is the go to guy for next season. Any Georgia quarterback has to do just enough, due to their stable of running backs and stingy defense, and Fromm proved he was capable of adding another dimension to the Georgia offense.
If Shea Patterson is eligible this season, the rest of the Big 10 should we worried. Patterson gives Michigan a difference maker at quarterback, something they haven’t had for a very long time. With Shea Patterson, he joins Donavan Peoples-Jones and Tarik Black to form a respectable passing attack, but the backbone of this team will still be its defense. It feels like we’ve been waiting for Rashan Gary to burst into the national spotlight since his freshman year. The now junior interior defensive lineman is a freak athlete inside for Michigan. However, we’ve only seen glimpses of what he can do. He has yet to put it all together on a consistent game by game basis.
Ohio State loses some important starters on both sides of the ball, but most importantly they lose start quarterback JT Barrett. Redshirt Freshman Dwayne Haskins is expected to win the starting job for next year, and was effective in minimal snaps this past season. Defensively, the Buckeyes are accustomed to roster turmoil. This group continues to produce elite players, and expect many more first year starters burst onto the national scene. Expect Kendall Sheffield to become a household name by seasons end. Sheffield stands 6’, and can turn on the jets. Watch out for him next season.
Finally, Texas has a chance to bounce back into the Big 12 elite. With Baker Mayfield, Mason Rudolph, and Kenny Hill gone, a revamped Texas defense could enjoy be the backbone of a resurgent Longhorn squad. The defense is losing stud linebacker Malik Jefferson, but Texas is bringing in a class with two five star safeties in Caden Sterns and BJ Foster, plus several other high profile cornerbacks. With that haul, look for Texas to make strides in the right direction next season, and breakout the season after that.