The search for Masoli II and more 

March, 31, 2010
Position battles take place all over the field each spring, but none is more significant than at quarterback.

You can juggle two tailbacks or receivers or rotate defensive tackles, but anointing a QB is different. Many coaches want to have "a guy" named coming out of the spring, so that QB can take leadership of the team and run the summer 7-on-7 drills. This year's most significant spring QB battles are today's top 10 list. (Caveat: I'm not including programs that have a QB out due to injury.)

1. Oregon Ducks: Nate Costa vs. Darron Thomas
The Ducks went from having a Heisman contender QB (Jeremiah Masoli) and a likely top-10 preseason ranking to a lot more uncertainty when Masoli's off-field issues prompted a season-long suspension. Coach Chip Kelly, though, does have two capable options. Both QBs are very athletic, and they have strong arms. Costa, a senior, has a better grasp and has battled a series of injuries over his career. Thomas is a 6-foot-3, 205-pound sophomore who turned heads two years ago when, as a true freshman, he lit up the Boise State D for three TDs in a relief role. He is seen more as the "upside" guy, but will stability trump youth here?

2. Texas Tech Red Raiders: Taylor Potts vs. Sticks Sheffield:
The Red Raiders had to be one of the few teams that played three QBs in significant game situations and still went bowling. New Tech offensive coordinator Neal Brown comes from Troy and has two QBs that are very different in stature and personality. Potts is a big, strong-armed 6-5 no-BS guy who is very cerebral, whereas Sheffield is a spunky 6-3 QB with better mobility. Both have shown they have the tools to win at the Big 12 level. Brown tells colleague David Ubben there is not going to be any co-starter business once he settles on a QB. "Once we make that decision, there's not going to be a whole lot of flip-flopping," Brown said. "We're going to give that guy some rope where he's not peeking over his shoulder all the time. We're going to hand him the reins and he's going to go out to play."