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Washington State Football Spring Preview: Cougars Need Halliday to Put It All Together

The Cougars open spring practice hoping that junior Connor Halliday can firmly grab hold of the starting quarterback spot.

William Mancebo

If there is one thing that Mike Leach knows, it is quarterbacks. The NCAA record books are filled with passing records set by quarterbacks from Leach's system at Texas Tech, so expectations have been high for QB production ever since Leach was announced as the head coach at Washington State.

With Jeff Tuel deciding not to pursue a fifth year of eligibility, it looks like the reigns of the Cougar offense will fully be handed over to junior Connor Halliday, so one of the key goals for the Cougars this spring, has to be getting Halliday to step up and assume full control of Leach's offense. Halliday has been prolific at times for the Cougars, throwing for more than 300 yards five times in just a handle of starts, but he has also been frustratingly inaccurate at times as he threw 13 interceptions in 2012 and had a completion percentage of 52 percent. The month of October was particularly troublesome for the signal caller as he tossed 5 interceptions without a touchdown.

It might be nice for the Cougars to have a little bit of a quarterback battle during the spring, but without another quarterback on their roster that has any experience, it is likely that the staff is hoping that Halliday can simply step up and firmly grab hold of the position as opposed to opening things up to the inexperienced younger players. Halliday has all of the tools - size, experience, arm strength, confidence and a fleet of talented, young receivers - but it is simply up to him to put it all together on a consistent basis.

If Halliday falters, freshman Austin Apodaca will likely be called upon to hopefully step up and at least provide some competition. The first quarterback signed by Leach, Apodaca is a 6'3 180 and was a three-star recruit coming out of high school in the Denver area. Apodaca does have the slight advantage of being the only quarterback on the roster signed by Leach, but he only has scout team experience at the moment, so it would be very surprising if he truly battles with Halliday. Due to the departures of Cody Clements and David Gilbertson, Halliday and Apodaca will be the only scholarship QBs on the Cougar roster this spring, so it will be imperative that both stay healthy.

The battle might not actually be over this spring though if neither Halliday or Apodaca can firmly grab hold of the starting spot, as heralded Class of 2013 signee Tyler Bruggman will be arriving in the Fall and could provide some serious competition if the starting spot is still up for grabs.