Better 2013 Stats: Baylor's Petty Or Texas Tech's Brewer?
By Mike Casazza
All it took was some spring football and one surprising roster move, but we now have a better idea about who’s going to be starting at quarterback throughout the Big 12.
Texas has David Ash, Iowa State has Sam Richardson and though without a proclamation, we can safely assume Kansas has Jake Heaps.
There are some mysteries, but ones we can probably solve with a little critical thinking.
Wes Lunt decided to leave Oklahoma State, quite likely because he figured out he wasn’t going to be the starter. That honor seems headed to Clint Chelf. Casey Pachall is back at TCU and, by the sound of it, back in the good graces of the program. Blake Bell has been fine on the field, but also off of the field, which is more than Kendal Thompson can say. Bell’s supposed strongest challenger was arrested earlier this month for public intoxication.
Some are harder to crack. Kansas State coach Bill Snyder has provided the expected amount of secrecy regarding where sophomore Daniel Sams stands in relation to junior college transfer Jake Waters. When ESPN.com’s Big 12 blog conducted a poll this month asking readers who should start, Sams won — with 51 percent.
It’s even murkier at West Virginia. Junior Paul Millard and redshirt freshmen Ford Childress battled throughout the spring, but then made room for Florida State transfer Clint Trickett, who is eligible right away to play his final two seasons. You can use your imagination there.
The quarterbacks seemingly nobody talks about are perhaps the most exciting to discuss, though. We can step out on an extremely firm limb to label Bryce Petty the starter at Baylor and Michael Brewer the starter at Texas Tech. And we can have a lot of fun wondering what they’re capable of in their respective offenses.
Petty is the next gear in the machine coach Art Briles has assembled. Bears quarterbacks the last two years have set school records and ranked No. 2 nationally in total offense. Don’t forget Brewer is about to play in the Air Raid offense coach Kliff Kingsbury helped popularize at Texas Tech before he tutored Case Keenum at Houston and Johnny Manziel at Texas A&M.
So let’s figure this out for 2013: Will Petty or Brewer have the better statistical season?
The Case For Brewer
Brewer has one of the deepest groups of pass-catchers in the Big 12, led by Eric Ward outside, tight end Jace Amaro as a matchup nightmare and running back SaDale Foster mixing things up out of the backfield. But younger players like Bradley Marquez and Jakeem Grant and freshmen Dylan Cantrell and Devin Lauderdale will grow up fast because Brewer is going to throw so many passes.
Perhaps the best argument for Brewer, though, is the system. It’s worked at Kentucky, Texas Tech, Houston, Oklahoma State, West Virginia and Texas A&M, plus all the other FCS and Division II schools that have borrowed ideas or hired assistants from the aforementioned places. There isn’t a so-called blueprint to stop it because the design of the offense builds in its own workarounds.
And that means it can be tailored to the quarterback’s strengths. Right away. The first-year success of a quarterback in the system is pretty consistent and pretty remarkable. Kingsbury passed for 3,412 yards and 21 touchdowns in 2002, Keenum had 5,020 yards and 44 touchdown in 2008, Brandon Weeden had 4,277 yards and 34 touchdowns at Oklahoma State in 2010, Geno Smith had 4,385 yards and 31 touchdowns in 2011 and Manziel had 3,706 yards and 26 touchdowns last season — plus another 1,410 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground.
Manziel presents the evolution of the offense and Kingsbury carries it with him, knowing full well Brewer is a capable runner who gained more than 1,300 yards on the ground his final two seasons in high school. It’s worth noting Kingsbury has worked with three quarterbacks the past three years, including David Piland, who was forced into action when Keenum was injured in 2010. He at least has a knack for getting to the core of what makes a quarterback function.
Brewer is no dummy, either. His high school coach was Chad Morris, the successful Clemson offensive coordinator who ran a complicated, though successful prep offense. They lost just one game their final two years together. Brewer will further benefit from playing in nine games last season for former offensive coordinator Neal Brown. Now the offensive coordinator at his alma mater Kentucky, Brown played receiver for Air Raid patriarchs Hal Mumme and Mike Leach and has used that in coaching. Kingsbury’s offense won’t feel much different.
The Case For Petty
You can point at the system here, too, but the beauty is in its unique nature. While the Air Raid has been copied for almost two decades now, Briles, a Leach protégé, has crafted an offense that requires a certain bravery to mimic. No one has pulled it off just yet and the sometimes confused looks on defense demonstrate its effectiveness. The Bears play with a breakneck pace and utilize the width of the field better than anyone in the country.
Fortunately for Petty and the Bears, Petty has been watching and waiting for three years to get his hands on the controls. Briles is the mastermind, but Petty, a redshirt junior who was committed with Tajh Boyd to Tennessee’s 2009 recruiting class, sat in the meeting rooms with Robert Griffin III and Nick Florence. That’s hard to beat for a young quarterback eager to learn how to play the position. That he’s spent that time with offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Phillip Montgomery, who worked for 14 years as a high school coach in Texas with Briles, helps immeasurably.
Petty looks like a quarterback, too. He’s 6-foot-3 and 230 pounds and can make the wide and long throws the offense requires, but also zip passes into tight spaces to keep receivers on the move.
The difference, though, is the talent. Baylor has the most explosive offensive players in the conference, which is a frightening proposition. Running back Lache Seastrunk will keep defenses honest and that’s great news for the receivers because the offense provides so many Bears to cover across so much space.
They might not lean on someone like Kendall Wright in 2011 or Terrance Williams last season, but there is a pack of players waiting to provide balance — and that theory dismisses just how dangerous the speedy Tevin Reese can be. Levi Norwood and Antwan Goodley will make their names while Jordan Najvar can be a new wrinkle as a tight end in space. Players who sat out last season on a loaded roster, like Kaleb Moore, Lynx Hawthorne and Corey Coleman, or even a true freshman like Robbie Rhodes, could be much bigger names come December.
This is more about picking who’s going to have the better season, as opposed to which won’t be as good as the other. Brewer has experience and savvy and the players around him will help him hit it off nicely with Kingsbury. But there are more reasons and better justifications to pick Petty.
He has more experience. He has better talent around him. It’s hard to say who’s the better passer, but don’t assume Brewer is the better runner. Petty can scoot. When CBS.com’s Bruce Feldman visited Baylor in the spring, he discovered Petty has run the 40-yard dash in 4.55 seconds.
More importantly, Petty will benefit from continuity. It’s convenient to point at how Kingsbury can reach quarterbacks in his first season and how the quarterbacks generally take to the Air Raid, but there are some pretty talented players on that list. It’s not always as easy.
Petty doesn’t have to worry about adjustments with a new coach in a new system. He knows the offense and the surroundings and he’s seen up close how it’s supposed to be done. He’s also lucky to have such sensational help one pass away.