At least that's the message conveyed by the quarterbacks who will be reportedly attending 2013 Big 12 media days on July 22-23...
All two of them
Ash is now a proven starter likely poised for a solid (and pray, healthy) year, despite being pressed into action at least two years ahead of schedule. He has solid assets around him and a coaching staff finally committed to riding out the highs and lows in his development. He wrote hopefully...
Heaps has never started a game at Kansas under Charlie Weis, but was a freshman phenom at BYU before losing his starting gig after a disappointing sophomore campaign under offensive coordinator Brandon Doman. Whatever his talent level, he'll provide the Jayhawks with a dramatic upgrade at the position. Count on that.
If you want an explanation for why the league's hierarchy will be dramatically upended from 2012, look no further than the QB position and the decimated defensive depth charts from last year's top contenders.
In 2012, 7 QBs represented their schools at Big 12 media days. Including All-American candidates like Landry Jones, Geno Smith, Casey Pachall (oops!), and Collin Klein.
Of course, the suggested lack of QB confidence does come with some disclaimers.
Mike Gundy didn't bring a QB because he didn't want to alienate either of his talented possible starters in reliable Clint Chelf and the gifted JW Walsh. The Cowboys are doing just fine at QB, whoever holds the reins. When your 3rd string transfer QB is being heavily recruited by solid FBS programs, it suggests good things about 1 and 2.
Gary Patterson didn't bring Casey Pachall because he doesn't want an impertinent blogger turning his ring tone to Eric Clapton's Cocaine and playing it during the Q&A portion. But don't forget that Pachall was quite good in 2011 (25-7 TD, INT ratio, 67% completions) and was killing it in 2012 before his meltdown against SMU and ensuing rehab sabbatical. If he doesn't pan, at least TCU has some promise in Boykin.
And Art Briles, who seems to have a particular gift for the recruitment and development of the QB position in the spread offense, isn't bringing Bryce Petty. But Briles won't be shy about predicting 3800 passing yards and 30+ TDs for the rocket-armed Petty, even with Lache Seastrunk in the backfield.
The other QB situations are interesting, if fluid. At least a couple of these guys will break through with sterling campaigns, but most of them will not. And handicapping which isn't very easy.
Kansas State is relying on former JUCO POY Jake Waters to beat out Daniel Sams. Waters adds an interesting passing element to Snyder's offense while Sams is the superior runner. Neither player is Collin Klein. And a KSU defense decimated by graduation and the NFL draft will put a great deal of pressure on whoever is calling signals, changing the methodical, erosive nature of the Klein offense. Snyder can manage any offense, but it will take some adjustment. While I consider Bill Snyder to be one of the finest pure coaches to ever wear a whistle and compare losing a game to the death of a child, the early conference schedule and a brand new defense does this team - and their QB position - few favors.
Iowa State hasn't seen respectable QB play since Brett Meyer in 2005 and very good play since Seneca Wallace in 2002. That's the Big 12's longest streak of Steele Jantziness in a league where even the dregs (and former dregs) seem to manage Todd Reesings and RGIII's. Indeed, if Iowa State could produce a strong signal caller (they've averaged a feeble 21.7 points per game since 2006) to go along with some of Rhoads' scrappy defenses, they'd have had some 9-3 seasons. Redshirt sophomore Sam Richardson is their best bet to date. He had some promising performances last year as a freshman (8:1 TD, INT ratio, underrated runner), but his supporting cast is inexperienced and uneven (9 returning starters total). Hey, who wants to bet that he leads Iowa State to a big upset over a ranked team while also losing to Kansas? Oh, Cyclones.
West Virginia has an open competition for the QB job with most favoring skinny FSU transfer Clint Trickett to win out over NFL prototype Ford Childress. In either event, when an offense throws more than 1/3rd of its passes behind the LOS, as they say in San Quentin - the catcher is often more important than the thrower. And with no Stedman Bailey and Tavon Austin, the West Virginia catchers are down a bit. Throw in a green OL and average RBs and these WVU QBs don't exactly have a Playstation to operate. Am I predicting WVU to finish last in the league? Yeah, thinking about it.
Texas Tech starts Michael Brewer, an undersized system guy with great feet, a good brain, and lots of plucky winner-ness. Cody Hodges and Seth Doege send their regards. He has legit weapons (Amaro, Ward - Amaro may be a weapon in many senses of the word) and a Kingsbury offense open to improvisation, but I'm curious to see how he performs against the upper tier conference defenses who can contain, cover, and force actual throws.
Oklahoma is the team that won a conference title with Paul Thompson calling signals, much less a long array of heralded college guys with zero NFL future, so it's not hard to imagine them constructing a run-friendly spread option Matt Jones Arkansas style offense that allows Blake Bell to use his legs and size and keep his throws simple. And his WR corps will be the league's best. He has an interesting upside, but, well, how can I frame this delicately? - can he throw a spiral to a receiver that isn't wide ass open? Will it matter in Dallas as Mack Brown pees down his Dockers every time some redneck yells out and Boomer Sooner while deep throating a fried corn-dog?
There are a lot of reasons to favor TCU, Texas and Oklahoma State as the primary contenders for the 2013 league title, with Baylor/OU as interesting dark horse candidates, and it starts at the QB position.