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Spring position preview: Quarterback

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — In the days leading up to the start of spring practices at Washington State, we're going to take a quick, capsulated look at each position group, just to refresh everyone's memories. Up first: the quarterbacks.


The players: senior Jeff Tuel, redshirt sophomore Connor Halliday, redshirt junior David Gilbertson, redshirt freshman Cody Clements, redshirt freshman Jesse Brown

The outlook: Mike Leach has made it clear that Tuel and Halliday will compete for the starting job. Leach told me last week that he's not sure exactly how repetitions will be split during the spring, but that he's not adamant that a starter be in place before drills conclude. If the battle goes into the fall, then so be it. … Tuel appears to have a couple distinct advantages, the most obvious being experience. He's started games in three different seasons, only managing to get on the field for three games last year before compartment syndrome ended this season. As a sophomore, he threw for 2,780 yards, 18 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. At the time, it seemed unfathomable that anyone could beat him out. But Halliday made the most of his opportunity after Tuel was injured last season, throwing for a WSU freshman record 494 yards and four touchdowns in that famed 37-27 win over Arizona State. In addition to the numbers, Halliday displayed an impressive amount of moxy, dropping passes into tight spots with confidence beyond his years. Then he suffered a lacerated liver against Utah the next week and his season was over. … Both players have strong arms. Tuel is the better runner of the two.

The gist: Leach's policy is not to discuss injuries, so the extent of Halliday's recovery isn't known. Tuel said in January that he's ready to go. If Halliday is cleared, we could have a quality quarterback competition brewing. If not, Tuel would appear to have a leg up. Regardless, WSU should have two quarterbacks it feels comfortable with by its Sept. 1 opener at BYU.

Christian Caple can be reached at christianc@spokesman.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple


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