If you were to look on the current football roster at Arizona State you might be surprised to see that there are six quarterbacks listed. For many people that might be a luxury I guess, but for people who know football, having six quarterbacks is not something that you want. Some fans might even say there could be a quarterback controversy brewing in Tempe.
I say no to that thought.
Here are the six quarterbacks listed for the Sun Devils:
· Brady White
· Bryce Perkins
· Ryan Kelley
· Dillon Sterling-Cole
Out of the six, it’s really a two-man race. The quarterback competition will come down to Manny Wilkins and Alabama transfer, Blake Barnett. The third string quarterback will most likely be filled by either Brady White or freshman Ryan Kelley.
What I don’t want to see is the platoon system between Barnett and Wilkins. If the Sun Devils go to the rotating quarterback idea that will say that they don’t have a quarterback. Most coaches will tell you, if you have two quarterbacks, you have no quarterback. Additionally, platooning the quarterbacks is hard on the offense. Every quarterback has a different style in the huddle, a different cadence, and a different way of leading their team. Switching that up during the game makes the offense have to adjust on the fly during the game.
Football coaches like minimal distractions during the game. Switching quarterbacks up during a game creates a distraction that should not be there in the first place.
We will see what happens once summer/fall practices begin and how each quarterback handles the competition.
Through spring practice, one of the words I heard among the Sun Devil players and coaches was competition. The coaches know that with the influx of new players and coaches everybody on the football field has to show their best at all times.
Blake Barnett comes into the Arizona State program with a ton of nice looking credentials. One of the top ranked quarterbacks coming out of high school, played for perennial power Alabama, threw for 5,921 yards in high school, 47 touchdowns, and had major division one school tripping over themselves to attain his services.
Barnett has the physical tools to succeed in the Pac-12 Conference. He’s 6’5”, 200 pounds, has good feet, and can get out and extend plays with his feet. The downside I see with his physical stature is that he is thin. Barnett needs to get into the weight room and put some muscle on that slight frame of his.
The other aspect that will be questioned will be nervousness when he plays in a game. He started the first game for Alabama against USC and was nervous. His play reflected that to his Crimson Tide coaches. All it took for the Crimson Tide coaches was to see this nervousness in the first three games of year and they knew they had to make a change.
Hopefully this has changed for Barnett. A player with all this talent should be able to find a way to get past this nervousness.
Manny Wilkins is the incumbent quarterback for the Sun Devils.
Wilkins has the reputation as being a great locker room guy. Players flock to him due to his personality and leadership style. Being that type of guy on a football is something coaches do pay attention to in making complete evaluations prior to making somebody the starter.
Manny was hampered last season due to injury.
“Manny was hurt the last half of the year and never fully recovered. When he tried to play, it was like he was playing on one leg.” Coach Graham told me at the spring football media day.
The toughness of this player shouldn’t be questioned with me. Manny wants to win and he wants to be the guy to lead the Sun Devil program out of the mediocrity that has plagued the team the last few years.
What has Manny been working on to maintain his starter status?
Manny has been working on going through his progressions on the field and not just focusing in on the first read. In past seasons he would look at the first option and if wasn’t there, he would tuck the ball and run it.
What I saw during the spring practices and certainly in the spring game was his ability to go through the downfield progressions. When he was leading the offense in the spring game he spread the ball all over the field which showed me he was looking at all of his options on any given play.
At the end of the day, with all the quarterbacks that the Sun Devils have, it is only a two-man race. It’s still too early to get a feel for who the Arizona State coaching staff will go with. Coaches will tell you “there is a lot that can happen between now and the end of training camp”. Most of the time, that’s just coach talk. In this instance, it’s the truth.
This is a big year for the Sun Devil program. Coach Graham and his offensive staff have to get this quarterback decision right or it could be the first nail in the coffin for the Sun Devil coaching staff.