Kansas State and Texas Tech changed starting quarterbacks midseason for much different reasons.
While true freshman quarterbacks are now starting for both Big 12 teams in the Kansas, and No. 18 Oklahoma is led by redshirt freshman Spencer Rattler, the senior seasons for Sam Ehlinger at No. 21 Texas and Charlie Brewer at Baylor don’t necessarily have to be the end of their college careers.
It is certainly an interesting season for Big 12 quarterbacks.
Such is 2020, with eligibility clocks frozen by the NCAA because of the COVID-19 pandemic, giving everybody the potential of an extra season — for those just getting started and those who expected to be playing their final seasons, though it still is unclear if any of those seniors will take advantage of such an extension.
Will Howard last month became the first K-State true freshman since Josh Freeman in 2006 to start at quarterback. He took over after senior Skylar Thompson suffered a season-ending injury to his throwing shoulder. The Wildcats won his first two starts and were ranked 16th before being held to a combined 28 points in two losses.
At Texas Tech, oft-injured but now healthy sophomore Alan Bowman was replaced a month ago as the starter by Henry Colombi, the former Utah State transfer whose college career began as a backup to first-round NFL draft pick Jordan Love when Texas Tech coach Matt Wells and offensive coordinator David Yost held those same jobs with the Aggies.
Wells said when the change was made that Colombi had “kind of jumpstarted” the offense in relief appearances, but the Red Raiders are 1-2 since the switch and his numbers are similar to Bowman’s. In five games each, they have completed about 65% of their passes, but for less than 200 yards per game. Each has four interceptions; Colombi’s eight TDs are only one more than Bowman.
Rattler and the Sooners went into their open date on a four-game winning streak. He has completed 141 of 208 passes (67.8%) for 2,018 yards (288.3 yards per game) with 18 TDs and six picks. Rattler played last season behind graduate transfer Jalen Hurts, who followed consecutive Heisman Trophy winners in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray.
West Virginia junior Jarret Doege has a league-high 184 completions and is a close second to Rattler with 286.7 yards per game. Doege last week threw for 317 yards in a loss at Texas but couldn’t get the Mountaineers into the end zone twice in the fourth quarter from inside the Texas 20 — both times, Doege’s passes fell incomplete on fourth-and-1. The former Bowling Green transfer is the younger brother of former Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege.
“We as a staff, obviously, feel great about what he’s doing,” West Virginia offensive coordinator Gerad Parker said. “His accuracy’s going up. His leadership skills have went up.”
Ehlinger is having a good season stat-wise (22 TDs passing, seven more TDs rushing), but the Longhorns defense has been the difference maker between 5-2 and 2-5. Ehlinger looks like the beating he’s taken is taking a toll on his body. He’s close to graduating, and hasn’t said yet if he’ll return in 2021, when he would have a chance to overtake Colt McCoy as the school’s career passing leader.
Baylor fourth-year starter Brewer has played 40 games, only two from matching J.J. Joe for the most ever by a Bears QB. Brewer’s 8,867 career passing yards is second only to 2011 Heisman winner Robert Griffin III, by 1,499 yards with four regular-season games left.
Iowa State junior Brock Purdy threw his 50th career touchdown pass last week, the 23rd school record for the Cyclones’ winningest quarterback in league play. He is 15-6 against the Big 12, with at least one win against every other team. He has averaged 211 yards passing a game this season with 10 TDs and six interceptions.
Spencer Sanders began his sophomore season for No. 14 Oklahoma State by suffering an ankle injury in the first quarter of the opener, then missed three games. He has been back the last three.
Max Duggan threw for only 73 yards in TCU’s win over Texas Tech last weekend, but the speedy Horned Frogs sophomore ran for 154 yards and three touchdowns. That included a game-clinching 81-yard score after also outrunning the secondary to the end zone on a earlier 48-yarder.
Kansas senior Thomas MacVittie got his first career start in the opener, but hasn’t played since because of a shoulder injury. True freshman Jalon Daniels has 646 yards passing in his four starts for the winless Jayhawks, and was sacked nine times by Oklahoma last week.
AP Sports Writers Jim Vertuno and John Raby contributed to this report.
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