Pac-12 saw some key QB competitions heading into season

Gardner Minshew’s success was something of a pleasant surprise last season for Washington State. Now the Cougars will look to his backup, Anthony Gordon.

Washington State was one of several Pac-12 teams that went through a quarterback competition before the season. Washington was similarly tasked with replacing Jake Browning. Oregon State’s Jake Luton was pushed in his sixth season of eligibility by Nebraska transfer Tristan Gebbia. And Arizona State will start a true freshman at QB for the first time.

Gordon spent the past few seasons behind Luke Falk and then Minshew in head coach Mike Leach’s Air Raid system. Leach named him the starter for No. 23 Washington State’s opener at home Saturday night against New Mexico State.

Gordon beat out Gage Gubrud, a transfer from Eastern Washington who was granted a sixth year of eligibility after he was sidelined for part of his senior season with a toe injury. Gubrud beat Washington State in his first start with the Eagles in 2016, throwing for 474 yards and five touchdowns.

Gordon has big shoes to fill.

Minshew, a graduate transfer, ended up as the Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year, throwing for 4,779 yards and 38 touchdowns for the Cougars (11-2). He ended up as a sixth-round draft pick by Jacksonville.

A look at the Pac-12’s other quarterback situations:

Washington: Similar to the Cougs, the 13th-ranked Huskies are replacing a big-time QB.

Jacob Eason started for Georgia as a freshman but eventually lost the job to Jake Fromm. Eason transferred to Washington but had to sit out a season. He’ll start Saturday when the Huskies host Eastern Washington.

Monte Vista-Danville alum Jake Haener, who was in the mix, left the Huskies after Eason won the job. Eason replaces Browning, who threw for 3,192 yards with 16 touchdowns last season, leading the Huskies to a 10-4 record and the Pac-12 championship. Browning is in camp with the Vikings.

Oregon State: Head coach Jonathan Smith said last week that Luton will start for the Beavers on Friday night when they host Oklahoma State.

Luton had been limited by injuries to nine starts since he transferred to Oregon State in 2017 and was granted a sixth year of eligibility. In Corvallis, he has missed time with injuries to his spine and ankle, as well as a concussion.

“I’m just trying to stay healthy and just trying to be consistent throughout the year. I’m not trying to light up any record books or anything like that,” the 6-foot-7 quarterback said.

Arizona State: Jayden Daniels will become the first true freshman to start for the Sun Devils when they open the season at home against Kent State on Thursday night.

Daniels takes the QB spot after Manny Wilkins’ three-year reign at ASU. Daniels, who’s 6-3, 175 pounds, was one of the top dual-threat quarterback recruits.

Returnees: In the Pac-12 North, the returning quarterbacks are Oregon’s Justin Herbert, Stanford’s K.J. Costello and Cal’s Chase Garbers.

In the Pac-12 South, Utah brings back Tyler Huntley. USC quarterback JT Daniels will operate under the newly installed Air Raid offense. Arizona returns Khalil Tate, and Steven Montez embarks on his senior season at Colorado.

Briefly: Alabama middle linebacker Dylan Moses, a finalist last season for the Butkus Award, has a knee injury that requires surgery. … Nebraska suspended wide receiver Andre Hunt and tight end Katerian Legrone indefinitely. No reason was given. … USC redshirt freshman linebacker Solomon Tuliaupupu will miss his second straight season because of a foot injury.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/Pac-12-saw-some-key-QB-competitions-heading-into-14396454.php.

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