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Breaking down the Big 12 quarterbacks: Part 1

Taking an in-depth look at the quarterback situations around the Big 12, starting with Baylor, Iowa State, and Kansas.

Will Bryce Petty step seamlessly into the starting role at Baylor?
Will Bryce Petty step seamlessly into the starting role at Baylor?

After a truly remarkable run in the Big 12 at quarterback that featured Robert Griffin III's Heisman-winning campaign in 2011 and a host of longtime starters putting up ridiculous numbers last season, the fact that only two schools -- Texas and Kansas -- took their starters at the position to the Big 12 Media Days earlier this week speaks to the conference's high turnover at the most important position on the field.

It's one reason why the conference is expected to be so wide open this year, not to mention one of the advantages Texas holds as possessing perhaps the most proven and reliable quarterback in the conference, an odd phrase to throw at David Ash following a 2012 season that saw some high peaks and low valleys.

Let's look around the league to assess the quarterback situations at each school.

Baylor Bears

Starter/likely starter: Bryce Petty

Experience level: A fourth-year junior, Petty is already a Baylor graduate, but has attempted only 14 passes on the college level, completing 10 for 140 yards.

The take from Briles:

Really, Bryce, a reasonable expectation, first thing that popped into my mind is break every Baylor record there is offensively, which is what we expect him to do and what he plans to do. I don't know what expectation anyone would have other than doing that, which equates to winning every football game we step on the field with, which needs to be his expectation along with ours.

His expectations are to win every game and be the best quarterback in the United States of America.

Expectations: After going through a smooth transition from RGIII to Nick Florence last year, given the quarterback-coaching acumen of Briles, the expectations are incredibly high for Petty, despite the fact he is almost entirely unproven. In fact, there are more than a few people who believe that Petty will have a better season than Ash.

There's no doubt that with his big body and athleticism, he'll provide a different dimension in the Baylor run game -- expect Briles to use a lot of Power zone read to allow junior running back Lache Seastrunk to get his speed to the edge and work Petty in the middle of the field, a potentially lethal combination. At 6'3 and 230 pounds, his size has already earned him comparisons to Tim Tebow from Seastrunk. Blessed also with what is often described as a cannon for an arm, Petty's ability to stretch the field vertically should help Baylor continue to create big plays in the passing game

Projections: 3,800 yards passing | 60% completions | 28 touchdowns passing | 10 interceptions | 650 rushing yards | 15 touchdowns rushing

Iowa State Cyclones

Starter/likely starter: Sam Richardson

Experience level: A lightly-recruited three-star prospect out of high school, Richardson redshirted his first season in Ames before starting the final three games in 2012 as a redshirt freshman after both Steele Jantz and Jared Barnett struggled.

Expectations: The Cyclones have a clearcut starter heading into the 2013 season for the first time since Austin Arnaud was the quarterback as a senior in 2010, which should provide some stability for a program that struggled to find Arnaud's replacement over the last several seasons.

Richardson was pretty sensational in his first start against Kansas, completing 85% of his passes and throwing four touchdowns with zero interceptions. However, his next two starts, against West Virginia and Tulsa, both saw him complete less than 50% of his attempts. He'll have to be more consistent this season, but will suffer from Iowa State losing their top three wide receivers -- the top returning wideout averaged less than 10 yards per reception last season.

The good news for Iowa State fans is that he provides some upside in the running game after picking up 119 yards on 18 carries against West Virginia and breaking off a 34-yard run in the bowl game.

If he can find ways to make a few plays in the passing game every week and avoid turnovers, Richardson should be a net positive for the Cyclones this season.

Projections: 2,500 yards passing | 63% completions | 15 touchdowns passing | 7 interceptions | 525 rushing yards | 5 touchdowns rushing

Kansas Jayhawks

Starter/likely starter: Jake Heaps

Experience level: Barring injury, Heaps will have the distinction of starting games against Texas for two different teams after he was the BYU quarterback when the Cougars lost to the 'Horns in Austin in 2011. A starter for parts of two years in Provo, Heaps transferred after a mediocre sophomore season.

The take from Weis:

I'm going to kind of group Jake and Justin McCay together. Justin transferred from Oklahoma back home to Kansas City, where he's from, and Jake came from when I had recruited him out of Skyline High School out in Seattle, Washington, where he was the top ranked player in the country, and he really wanted to come to that school I was at, but he thought I might get fired, and he forgot to tell me that he was going to be right. He had better foresight than I did.

With that being said, I was very fortunate last year for them, while they were going through a ransfer year where they were ineligible, where they could establish a rapport, where they could be on that practice field every day throwing and catching, and I think that everyone who -- it's been well-documented that anyone who watched us play last year, that although we had a pretty solid running game, we couldn't pass the ball, and we couldn't score points, and I think that that's what I'm counting on this year for us to be a more balanced team on offense.

I think Jake and Justin are two of the people that can help provide that for us.

Expectations: The Kansas coaches are supposed to be quite high on Heaps, who will need the help from McCay to turn things around in the Jayhawk passing game after the team finished 119th in passing S&P+ last season, a truly terrible number. The emphasis on the running game will likely remain with senior James Sims back and Darius Miller now with the team again, while junior Tony Pierson will operate in a multi-dimensional role similar to Daje Johnson that should showcase his big-play ability.

Considering that the Jayhawks were competitive in some Big 12 games last season despite not being able to pass the ball effectively suggests that they could be dangerous if they can get solid play from Heaps this season. He's motivated by the disappointing ending to his career at BYU and ready to prove that he was worthy of the five-star rating he held coming out of high school.

After the Dayne Crist debacle last season, Weis would probably settle for the mediocre play that Heaps managed as a sophomore at BYU.

Projections: 2,350 passing yards | 58.5% completions | 14 touchdowns passing | 9 interceptions

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