Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Catching up: Pickin' quarterbacks

* If Doug Marrone fails as head coach at Syracuse, it won't be because of an inability to drum up interest in his program. Marrone officially named Greg Paulus the starting quarterback on Tuesday, which probably says more about his opinion of Ryan Nassib (No. 1 on the depth chart in spring) and Cameron Dantley (last year's starter) than it does about Paulus, who hadn't picked up a football in four years when he began his quest for a team in April. Paulus might be exceptionally talented, but when you're starting a guy with one year of eligibility who has no college football experience, you're basically just saying, "Yeah, we're gonna be terrible no matter who plays QB, so we might as well make it interesting."

* I can't believe I'm starting this with two notes about Syracuse, but the Orange (that still sounds awkward) decided that they wanted a little of the neutral-site spotlight Army and Notre Dame have been hogging, announcing Tuesday that they'll play at the new Meadowlands against USC in 2012 and the Fighting Irish in 2014 and 2016 (by the way, will Notre Dame be playing any games in regular stadiums anymore?). Unfortunately for Syracuse, Pete Carroll will probably still be at USC in 2012 and Charlie Weis probably won't be at Notre Dame in 2014.

* Clemson coach Dabo Swinney surprised just about everyone on Monday when he named redshirt freshman Kyle Parker the starting QB and former top recruit Willy Korn the backup. Parker is apparently an obnoxiously good athlete (he's also an All-ACC designated hitter for the Clemson baseball team), but Korn has put up impressive numbers in his two seasons as a backup. Swinney said that he expects to play Korn in every game, and while that's a noble gesture to try to keep everybody happy, there's a saying as old as football itself that if you have two quarterbacks, you really have none. So if (or when) Parker struggles, don't be surprised if Tigers fans do this and Korn gets a shot at the starting gig.

* I'm guessing that Texas Tech running back Baron Batch doesn't have magical healing powers, so it seems that there was some misinformation regarding the severity of his arm injury. While reports last week said he'd be out for three to six weeks, Batch apparently is already back at practice and is expected to participate in full-contact drills next week. Assuming that ESPN's "source" is accurate (which may or may not be a reasonable assumption), Batch should be ready to go for the Raiders' opener on Sept. 5.

* Utah quarterback Corbin Louks announced Tuesday that he'll transfer to Nevada, which wasn't surprising after it had become clear that he had slipped from presumptive starter to third on the depth chart. Louks is a fantastic athlete, but he came to camp as the only QB on the roster with FBS experience and still couldn't win the starting job (it's now between true freshman Jordan Wynn and juco transfer Terrance Cain), which doesn't say much for his passing skills. The Utes apparently wanted him to move to safety, but Louks instead will redshirt, sit behind Colin Kaepernick for a year at UNR and then hope to make an impact as a fifth-year senior in 2011.

* It's not easy for the QB of a top-25 team to undergo shoulder surgery and lose his starting job without anyone noticing, but that's what happens when you're located in Corvallis. Lyle Moevao quietly had an strong 2008 season for Oregon State, completing just under 60 percent of his passes with 19 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, but a shoulder injury in a win over Arizona State put him on the sidelines and kept him there until fall camp. Sean Canfield, who started in 2007 but lost the job because of his own shoulder injury, then played well enough late in the season and throughout spring and fall practice that Mike Riley now appears to have come full circle, all but naming Canfield the starter. It's not clear if this is because Moevao isn't fully recovered or if Canfield is just playing that well, but all that really matters for the Beavers is that someone is capable of handing the ball to Jacquizz Rodgers 30 times a game.

* Somebody get South Florida a running back, and do it quickly. After freshman Jamar Taylor -- who was competing for the starting job with senior Mo Plancher and talented but problematic junior Mike Ford -- injured his knee in the Bulls' scrimmage this weekend, Ford promptly went out and got himself suspended for the first two games of the season for a "violation of team rules." No specifics were provided, but TampaBay.com tells us that Ford's punishment matches the school's guidelines for a substance-abuse suspension, which probably isn't a coincidence. Mo Plancher, the stage is yours.

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