Breaking down the Big 12's four undecided QB battles

Even if Shane Buechele doesn't start the season opener, the freshman is sure to see some starts for Texas down the road. John Rivera/Icon Sportswire

A quick review of where things stand with the Big 12's four ongoing preseason quarterback battles:


The contenders: Junior Kenny Hill, sophomore Foster Sawyer

The battle: The competition to replace Trevone Boykin should wrap up soon. Gary Patterson hoped to name a starter about 10 days before the Horned Frogs' opener and that would be ... today. This was a 50-50 deal at the start of fall camp, and Patterson hasn't tipped his hand much since. Hill's maturation during his year off puts him in good shape to win the job. Sawyer hasn't played much but does have two years of practice reps in this system. If TCU plays its cards right at QB, this team contends for a Big 12 title.

Key quote: "We judge a quarterback -- I've said it once, and I'll say it 100 times -- does he make everybody else better when he steps on the field? Does the offense move better? Doesn't have to be the best athlete. Has to be the guy that makes everybody else go." -- Patterson

Key stat: Hill averaged 8.25 yards per attempt and 7.3 yards per rush (excluding sacks) in his stint as Texas A&M's starter. Boykin averaged 8.4 yards per attempt and 6.25 yards per rush (excluding sacks) over his last two seasons at TCU.

Prediction: Hill wins the job and has enough quality talent around him to put together a big comeback season. Getting through a season with one QB is tough, though, and Sawyer will be called upon at some point -- just as he and Bram Kohlhausen were a year ago.


The contenders: Freshman Shane Buechele, senior Tyrone Swoopes

The battle: Buechele became the fan favorite this spring and the perceived frontrunner after an impressive spring game performance. Charlie Strong has praised the freshman's leadership and work ethic throughout this battle and yet, he hasn't won the job. In fact, it’s starting to seem more likely that Swoopes could take the first snap against No. 10 Notre Dame. His experience, size and rushing ability are advantages, and he's adapting well to OC Sterlin Gilbert's offense. Strong has promised both QBs will play against the Fighting Irish.

Key quote: "The decision will be made and the team will know, but I'm not gonna put it out there because I don't want Notre Dame to know who we're going to start at quarterback." -- Strong

Key stat: In the 76 games since Colt McCoy graduated, a Texas quarterback has thrown for 300 yards only 11 times. Swoopes surpassed 300 yards three times as the starter in 2014. Buechele threw for 299 yards in one half in his spring game debut.

Prediction: Texas fans freak out when Swoopes exits fall camp atop the depth chart, but who starts the Notre Dame game isn't as important as who finishes it. Whether it takes a few quarters or a few games, Buechele eventually takes over the starting job, while Swoopes still plays a major role for the Longhorns.

Kansas State

The contenders: Junior Jesse Ertz, senior Joe Hubener, redshirt freshman Alex Delton

The battle: Ertz has established himself as the clear frontrunner in this competition. He represented the Wildcats at Big 12 media days, which seems like a clear indication of where Bill Snyder was leaning. But he does lack game experience -- Ertz suffered a torn ACL on his first play from scrimmage in 2015 -- and the Wildcats' staff is still giving Hubener and Delton a fair shot to keep pushing Ertz. Whoever wins the job faces the tall task of a road start at No. 8 Stanford on Kickoff Week.

Key quote: "[Ertz] is probably one of the best athletes I have ever seen at quarterback. You get to chasing him when you think you have a tackle, but he will make you miss and then turn on the afterburners." -- Kansas State DB Dante Barnett

Key stat: Kansas State's quarterbacks completed 47 percent of their passes last season and finished with a combined QBR of 53.8, which ranked ninth in the Big 12 and 77th among FBS teams.

Prediction: Ertz wins the job for the second year in a row and makes a good first impression. Delton emerges as K-State's top backup and gets an opportunity to play at some point this season.


The contenders: Sophomore Ryan Willis, junior Montell Cozart

The battle: It's sort of surprising coach David Beaty hasn't named Willis his starter yet. He showed promise playing through brutal circumstances in eight starts as a true freshman, but Willis missing the spring with an injury opened the door for Cozart. The veteran has started games in each of the last three seasons and is evidently showing improvement in his comeback from a season-ending shoulder injury.

Key quote: "We've got really good players, so it would be a different deal if I thought we didn't have much to choose from. But those dudes are all really talented." -- Beaty

Key stat: Willis was sacked 31 times during his freshman campaign. Only three FBS quarterbacks took more sacks per game than Willis last season.

Prediction: Willis and Cozart play against FCS Rhode Island before the Jayhawks eventually settle on Willis as their starter. Cozart, a team captain, still ends up making multiple starts over the course of the season.