No, I didn't say "Four Horsemen"...
I said..."Four Horse Race" — And that looks to be exactly what we have shaping up for the 2007-08 season of Bronco Football. The race, of course, is to see which player is going to step up and become the starting Bronco QB.
The winner will have sizeable shoes to fill, following Fiesta Bowl hero and NCAA 08 cover boy Jared Zabransky who went 34-5 as a starter at BSU. The QB will also find himself in the shadow of other great Bronco QBs like Ryan Dinwiddie and Bart Hendricks. One thing is for sure, the Broncos have had a hot streak of quarterbacks and have recruited this position very well throughout their history.
So...who's it going to be? Coaches and fans are hoping that a front-runner will emerge as Spring turns into Fall, but at this point it is for the pundits and fans to speculate.
First off is senior Taylor Tharp, who has been an able backup for the last two years, but hasn't blown away fans with his athleticism or other intangibles. Tharp is clearly the most experienced Bronco of the 4, and should know the playbook like the back of his hand, but so far in Spring Ball has not dazzled fans or coaches. Another obstacle that Tharp may face is being a senior...would the coaches rather start an underclassmen to let them evolve or go with Tharp for his Bronco football swan song? The coaches have made it clear that the best man will see the field this year, but if Tharp even so much as "ties" in this race with an underclassman, you can bet that they will get the nod over the senior. Tharp will need to step up in the remaining scrimmages and solidify his position as the front-runner or he may see his time with the first-teamers diminish as we close in on the Weber St. opener.
Next in line is junior Bush Hamdan. Clearly the most athletic of the group and the QB most likely to remind fans of Zabransky. Hamdan does not possess the blazing speed of Zabransky, but he is mobile and has good escapability — he also has one of the stronger arms. Hamdan did very well for himself at the first Spring Scrimmage, completing 8 of 11 passes for 98 yards, but it is hard to tell at this point if the pecking order has shifted. Hamdan is the shortest of the 4 quarterbacks and has somewhat of a sidearm throwing style — this worries some that think this may be a hindrance against tall, http://www2.blogger.com/img/gl.link.giffast lineman. Hamdan did have at least one pass knocked down in the first scrimmage. Hamdan has shown really well in scrimmages the last few years, but was still been unable to snatch the backup job from Tharp, which leads many to believe that some other issues are at play. In an interview recently, coach Chris Petersen hinted that Hamdan's main obstacle right now is mental, in that he gets down on himself when he makes mistakes on the field. Hamdan gives it all on the field and I think he is going to make a very significant run at the starting job this year.
Nick Lomax is a sophomore and the tallest of the bunch. The son of former NFL quarterback Neil Lomax, Nick was the 2005 Scout Team Player of the Year and has had high expectations heaped upon him since his arrival. Lomax is virtually untested, however, and the first Spring Scrimmage was not his best outing, going only 6 of 14 with an INT to boot. Lomax seems to be the slowest of the 4 hopefuls, and does not possess great arm strength. He has a decent pocket presence — and his height is a major positive. If Lomax doesn't make a strong move, and soon, he may see his snap count fall dramatically throughout the remainder of spring and fall as the coaches try to narrow the field.
Last, but certainly not least, is Freshman Mike Coughlin. Coughlin, the 2006 Scout Team Player of the Year, has tremendous upside as he:
• is the youngest of the 4 quarterbacks
• is the second tallest at 6'5"
• possesses very good arm strength
• is familiar with the Boise State offense, perhaps beyond his years, since he ran a very similar one in high school.
Coughlin's stats in the first Spring Scrimmage were just a hair's breadth worse than top-performer Hamdan's as he went 8 of 12 for 90 yards — Very impressive for a Redshirt Frosh. If Coughlin can duplicate his great performance in the subsequent Spring scrimmages, he may be able to buy himself some valuable time with the first team. Coughlin has been the subject of intense hype, but has so far lived up to his billing. Many Bronco fans are salivating at the prospect of a four-year starter, but time will tell whether this youngster can survive the rigors of spring ball to emerge as a favorite for the spot.
If I handicap the race today, here is how my list would look:
I will report back on this after the next two scrimmages and give my input. Please leave your comments here on this topic.
No, I didn't say "Four Horsemen"...