With spring games coming to an end, some questions have been answered, but many remain. While most teams enter the summer with their starters solidified, some coaches will have a tough decision at their quarterback spot. In this article, I will dive into three QB situations to monitor heading into the 2022 season and why they could drastically shake up the college football season.
Clemson: D.J. Uiagalelei vs. Cade Klubnik
The Post-Trevor Lawrence Era
With Trevor Lawrence gone to the NFL, D.J. Uiagalelei was primed to be the next in a recent string of phenomenal Clemson quarterbacks. After a statistically disappointing first season, Uiagalelei faces competition for the starting spot from incoming freshman Cade Klubnik. Will D.J. Uiagalelei work out of his troubles, or will Cade Klubnik be the next in a line of Clemson greats?
Heading into the 2021 season, Uiagalelei had the starting QB job at Clemson secured. Following a couple of big performances his freshman year, in the wake of a Lawrence positive Covid-19 test, Uiagalelei had his eyes on being the next great QB for the Tigers. This excitement was short-lived, as he completed a lackluster 2021 campaign with 2,246 yards, nine touchdowns, and ten interceptions. Though he did lead the Tigers to a 10–3 record, much was left to be desired in the Clemson offense. While not all of Clemson’s woes last season fell directly on Uiagalelei, the excitement of a #1 QB prospect coming in could see the end of D.J.’s time at QB1.
In steps, five-star recruit Klubnik, an early enrollee fresh off a 6A State Championship at Austin Westlake(TX), arriving on campus ready to take the starting job. The #1 QB recruit in his class, Klubnik, comes into Clemson with exceptional arm talent and great poise on and off the field. With Dabo Swinney constantly praising Klubnik’s abilities and often comparing him to former Tiger greats like Deshaun Watson and Trevor Lawrence, it would not be surprising to see Klubnik jump into that starting spot.
In the Clemson Spring Game, coach Dabo Swinney allowed a somewhat even snap count between the two QBs. Klubnik finished his day with a 65% completion percentage on 23 attempts for 106 yards and a touchdown. Uiagalelei, on the other hand, ended the game with a 47% completion percentage on 36 attempts for 175 passing yards and an interception. While there is hope that Uiagalelei will work out of his sophomore slump, many fans are intrigued by the potential and upside of Klubnik’s quick arrival. Though the official announcement won’t come until August, there is a chance Klubnik will take the leap and starts in 2022.
Texas: Hudson Card vs. Quinn Ewers
Welcome to the Battle of the Forty Acres
He is a third-year QB in the system with a few starts under his belt, going up against a transfer that has taken two collegiate snaps. This is the story of Steve Sarkisian’s newest dilemma. Quinn Ewers, one of the hottest names in the transfer portal this offseason, is the new man on campus. He will be up against Hudson Card, a veteran Longhorn. After losing former starting quarterback Casey Thompson to the transfer portal, Sarkisian must now choose between Card and Ewers to fill his shoes.
Opening starter of the 2021 season, Card now faces tall odds to begin the 2022 season the same way. Before getting beat out by Casey Thompson, Card posted a 1–1 record as a starter with 285 yards and three TDs, including one rushing. Card made appearances in five other games following his loss of the starting position. He finished the year with 590 yards, five passing touchdowns, and an interception. Card was set to inherit the starting job entering this offseason, but he will compete again for the job.
Though the transfer portal took Thompson, it allowed the Longhorns to bring in the #1 QB in the 2021 recruiting class, Ewers. In the UT spring game, Ewers showcased his talents, making some electric throws, two going for touchdowns. He has the natural ability to take the QB1 job and will thrive under Sarkisian. His deep ball is what excites fans most, but the ability to make throws on all three levels will help Ewers to boost the value of those around him.
Card has been in the system and knows the team and what it takes to win in the Big 12. Ewers is one of the highest-ranking recruits of all time and holds one of the highest ceilings of any unproven talent in college football. I predict Ewers will take the starting spot as Sarkisian looks to improve on a 5–7 season, and devy managers everywhere will get their first look at one of the most coveted QB prospects in a long time.
Texas Tech: Tyler Shough vs. Donovan Smith vs. Behren Morton
There’s something crazy in Lubbock, and it doesn’t just involve the QBs. Following the QB carousel that was the Matt Wells era, new HC Joey McGuire hopes to find his QB1 as he starts his first season with the Red Raiders. Possibly more important than the new Head Coach in this argument is new Offensive Coordinator Zach Kittley. If that name sounds familiar, it’s because Kittley is coming off a record-breaking season as the OC at Western Kentucky. McGuire and Kittley come to Texas Tech with three very different options at the quarterback position.
First is Shough, an Oregon transfer in his second year with the Red Raiders. The starting QB to begin 2021, Shough would only play in four games due to a broken collarbone. In those four games, Shough would average 218 yards/game and have a 6/3 TD-INT ratio. Shough is a prototypical QB, boasting great size at 6’5″ and 225 pounds. The obvious choice for the job, Shough’s biggest knock comes on his reads and timing of throws.
Next is Smith. starter of the last four games in the 2021 season, primarily utilized as a power option QB. His first real playing time came in the Red Raiders game against Oklahoma, and he finished the season posting a 2–2 record as a starter. Almost identical in size to Shough at 6’5″ and 230 pounds, Smith is an interesting candidate for the QB1 job. Smith’s above-average throw power and running ability are his biggest strengths. However, his power running tendency could physically take a toll on him.
Finally, a redshirt freshman and my pick for the job, Morton. At 6’2″ and 200 pounds, he is the smallest and youngest of the three options. A four-star recruit in the 2021 recruiting class, the Eastland (TX) product has the most to benefit from the new coaching staff on campus. Morton has exceptional accuracy and is admired for his ability to improvise on broken plays. He also holds a sneaky rushing upside to escape the pocket with decent speed.
Though Shough took 12 more pass attempts than Morton and Smith in the spring game (32–13–7), Morton wowed everyone when all was said and done. Based on seniority, I would guess Shough will be the starter for the 2022 season. If Shough is named the starter, expect him to be on a short leash, with multiple options behind him. If Morton wins the job this early, he could be an intriguing option to keep your eye on in devy.
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