The most important position on the team is up for grabs, and regardless of who emerges as the leader, the Huskies will head into 2011 with little to no experience at quarterback. As it stands right now, the competition is wide open. New offensive coordinator George DeLeone will be implementing a new system, so the field has been leveled in terms of who knows the playbook and who doesn't.
Right now I think it's a four horse race between redshirt sophomore Michael Box, redshirt freshman Scott McCummings, redshirt junior and youtube sensation Johnny McEntee, and true freshman Michael Nebrich. I do not believe 5'9" waterbug Leon Kinnard, who saw time at both wide receiver and quarterback last year, will be a factor.
Last season, as the Huskies played musical quarterbacks, there were whispers amongst both current and former players that McEntee deserved a chance to start. That never came to fruition but with a new staff in place the walk-on should not be counted out.
During the 2009 Blue/White game, while other Husky quarterbacks struggled with gusting winds, McEntee connected on all nine of his passes for 143 yards and a touchdown. He throws a pretty ball and has excellent accuracy, but he's not a guy who's going to hurt you with his legs. It remains to be seen how big of a factor the quarterback's ability to run will be in determining the starter.
Michael Box is the only of the four quarterbacks who will enter next season having thrown a career pass. Last season he drew mop up duty vs Texas Southern and then made his first career start at Louisville on October 23rd. He was ineffective that day, completing just four of 12 passes for 35 yards and an interception, before being pulled in the fourth quarter.
Box suffered a mild concussion in the Louisville game and was not well enough to start the following week vs West Virginia. He was cleared to practice by the medical staff, but Edsall said he saw "some things" he didn't like in practice and asked the staff to take another look at him.
Regardless of the concussion, it was clear Box wasn't ready to be the starter. With another year under his belt he should be more ready compete in 2011.
Box can scramble if need be, but he's more of a mobile pro-style quarterback than he is a true dual threat. He's not a guy who's going to run away from anyone or make people miss.
Scott McCummings, who hails from the same high school as none other than Doug Flutie (Natick HS, MA), is a guy who can absolutely beat you with his legs. He's a big kid, with a strong build, who's tough to bring down. McCummings had an offer from Harvard, and Stanford tried to get involved late, so his wits are not in question. The scuttlebutt around the team is that he's a fast learner and reads defenses extremely well.
Coming out of high school McCummings' accuracy wasn't where you'd like to see it. He completed just under 48% of his passes during his senior season, but if he's made strides in that department, his ability to read the defense and make plays with his legs could make him a viable candidate.
Starting a true freshman at quarterback is not something programs typically like to do, but I think Michael Nebrich has a legitimate shot to win the job. He's got a few things going for him that could aid his rise up the depth chart. The first being that he's a mid-year enrollee, which means he's already on campus, working out and building a rapport with the team.
Secondly, as was mentioned earlier, all of the quarterbacks will be learning a new system together. The other quarterbacks would have had a sizable advantage heading into 2011 had there not been a coaching change, but now all bets are off.
Lastly, Nebrich is the best athlete of the bunch, and will give the staff the most flexibility in their offensive play calling. He's a polished passer with great improv skills, and his ability to make plays while on the run makes him an attractive option.
Although the Huskies head into 2011 with uncertainty at the quarterback position, it looks like they four solid candidates. The competition will be spirited, and the winner will have had to have shown a pretty good skill set. I don't think I'm going out on a limb when I say the quarterback play, from a statistical standpoint, will be better in 2011 than it was in 2010. Whether that translates into more or less wins remains to be seen, but arrow up on the Huskies' quarterback play in 2011.
Spring practice begins on March 15th, and culminates with what should be a very entertaining Blue/White game on April 16th.