On Campus: Quarterback quandary

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) – Game planning for a season is much
easier when there is a constant under center. However, predicting injuries
is never a factor.

The 2014 campaign is only a month old, but there are a number of programs
across the country that have already been forced to go with “Plan B” at the
quarterback position.

OHIO STATE – The Buckeyes were thought of as a force to be reckoned with
prior to the start of the 2014 season, but the team has gone from a true
national title contender to just another competitor in its own conference with
the loss of Heisman Trophy hopeful Braxton Miller to a shoulder injury. In
Miller’s stead, freshman J.T. Barrett has been thrust into action to mixed
reviews. The Buckeyes had some trouble with Navy in the opener and then were
beaten at home by Virginia Tech. Barrett did break out against Kent State last
time out, throwing for 312 yards and a school-record tying six touchdowns, but
there is simply no way to sugarcoat it – the Buckeyes’ national title hopes
were dashed with Miller’s injury.

UCLA – Much like Ohio State, UCLA is relying on its own Heisman candidate this
season in Brett Hundley. The Bruins’ star quarterback suffered an elbow injury
against Texas and his status is still up in the air. Sophomore quarterback
Jerry Neuheisel entered the game against Texas and did his job, rallying the
Bruins to a hard-fought win over the Longhorns. Doing it for three quarters is
one thing, but doing it for an extended period of time is something else
entirely. Especially with Arizona State looming large on Thursday night.

ARIZONA STATE – The Sun Devils were thought of as a dark horse to win the
Pac-12 title this season. That will be much harder with Taylor Kelly on the
sidelines. ASU’s talented signal caller suffered a foot injury in the win over
Colorado and while the injury isn’t season-ending, it will keep him from
playing against UCLA on Thursday and probably USC on Oct. 4. Those two games
are very important considering ASU’s top competition for the South Division
title are the Bruins and Trojans.

OKLAHOMA STATE – The Cowboys may have lost the season opener to Florida State,
but a close game against the defending national champion on a neutral field
showed just what OSU was made of. However, competing for a Big 12 crown is no
longer a reality after losing J.W. Walsh to a broken foot in Week 2. Enter
Daxx Garman, who will try to fill Walsh’s shoes for the foreseeable future. If
anything, Garman should be well rested, as he redshirted at Arizona in 2011,
sat out 2012 as per transfer rules and did not see any game time in 2013 for
the Cowboys.

TOLEDO – When Phillip Ely transferred from Alabama, the thought was that
Toledo would contend for the Mid-American Conference crown. Things started out
well with a rout of New Hampshire in the opener (54-20), but the Rockets
have struggled since. One of the biggest reasons for that is Ely went down
with a torn ACL in Week 2 against Missouri and is lost for the season
Sophomore Logan Woodside will take over the rest of the way, and he did some
nice things in the recent win over Ball State, throwing one TD pass and
rushing for two more scores. However, vying for a conference crown is
obviously much harder now with Ely sidelined.

BOWLING GREEN – Toledo isn’t the only MAC team scrambling to find an answer
under center. Defending MAC champion Bowling Green had a realistic shot at
repeating, but losing perhaps the conference’s top player in Week 1 has
certainly tempered expectations. After throwing for over 3,400 yards and 25
TDs last season, Matt Johnson’s encore performance was halted right out of the
gate, suffering a hip injury in the season opener against Western Kentucky. He
is shelved for the season, leaving Bowling Green with a huge hole under
center. James Knapke will try to assuage the loss this season, but that won’t
be easy.

UTAH STATE – Utah State is kind of used to not having its talented quarterback
recently. Despite tearing an ACL last season, coach Chuckie Keeton’s squad
went on to play for the Mountain West title. Well, the injury bug reared its
ugly head again in a Sept. 13 win over Wake Forest, as Keeton suffered another
injury to the same knee. The good news is that Keeton isn’t expected to miss
any significant time. He did not play against Arkansas State and the team
suffered a 21-14 loss in overtime. The Aggies are on a bye this week, giving
Keeton an extra week to rest. Getting him back on the field sooner rather than
later would be best though, as instate rival BYU is on tap next.

TEXAS – Charlie Strong was going to have his hands full in his first season at
Texas anyway, but not having David Ash, his No. 1 quarterback, this year makes
things much more difficult. A series of concussions over the course of his
stint in Austin has forced Ash to call it a career. How competitive Texas is
the rest of the season remains to be seen. Tyrone Swoopes has started the last
two games for the Longhorns, but they were both losses to BYU and UCLA. He
should be able to find a little more success this week with Kansas on the