This summer, the team at House of Sparky will be voting on Pac-12 Power Rankings and presenting you with a different position group each week. Prior to Week 1 of the college football season, we will compile all of our results and release a composite set of Power Rankings for the Pac-12 teams.
We kick off our Power Rankings series with the signal-callers. This week's rankings are based on the overall quarterback situation of each team. While the first-string quarterbacks figured heavily into our rankings, we also took into consideration the depth that each team has at the position.
This week, four of our staff writers contributed to the Power Rankings. Ryan Bafaloukos, Kerry Crowley, Ben Haber, and Cody Ulm each sent in their marks, and here's what the team at House of Sparky has to show for it.
1. Oregon (3 First Place Votes)
The Ducks were the heavy favorite at No. 1 in our poll in large part because of Heisman hopeful Marcus Mariota. With the loss of Head Coach Chip Kelly, critics wonder if Mariota will suffer through a sophomore slump. However, it's hard to imagine a quarterback as accurate as Mariota struggle. Last season, the Hawaii native completed 68 percent of his passes and threw for 2,677 yards. Furthermore, he rushed for more than seven yards per carry in the Ducks' zone-read scheme.
After Mariota, the Ducks have three unproven gunslingers including senior Dustin Haines and redshirt freshmen Jeff Lockie and Jake Rodrigues. Regardless, it doesn't seem to matter who the Ducks put behind center, as they always seem to find a winner.
2. UCLA (1 First Place Vote)
Like the Ducks, the Bruins receive their spot in the Power Rankings based on the strength of their first-string passer. Chandler native Brett Hundley was sensational in his freshman campaign as he threw for 3,740 yards and 29 touchdowns en route to a Pac-12 South Championship. The Bruins signal-caller can also get it done on the ground, as he finished second in the conference in total offense with 292.5 yards per game.
Behind Hundley, the Bruins face plenty of question marks. Four different redshirt freshmen will compete for No. 2 job, including Jerry Neuheisel, the son of former UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel.
3. Arizona State
While Taylor Kelly may not be the third-best quarterback in the country, the Sun Devils receive a boost in our rankings based on the depth of the position group as a whole. Kelly is a serious dual-threat who runs the ASU scheme well, but in the event of an injury, both Mike Bercovici and Michael Eubank are viable replacements.
Kelly threw for 29 touchdowns in his debut season as a starter, and he'll look to earn the right to keep the ball on every down this fall. Last season, Eubank split time as part of a two-quarterback rotation, but Kelly will hold the starting job heading into this year.
Keith Price returns for his third-year at the helm of the Huskies' offense. The dual-threat quarterback has certainly struggled at times throughout his career, but he oozes potential. Last year, Price averaged 209.8 yards per game, but he'll have to cut down on his 13 interceptions if the Huskies want to improve this season.
Sophomore Derrick Brown will compete with three different freshmen quarterbacks to hold onto the No. 2 job he held last fall. Though Brown played in three games, his only passing statistics were two completions in five attempts against Portland State.
5. Oregon State
While most sets of Pac-12 quarterback rankings have listed Stanford by No. 5, our writers put the Beavers ahead of the Cardinal based on their dual-quarterback system. Junior Sean Mannion appears to be the No. 1 guy, but his injury troubles have allowed senior Cody Vaz to steal the spotlight last season.
Mannion saw action in 10 games last season and threw for 244.6 yards per game, but he threw 15 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. As for Vaz, his 211.4 yards per game don't stack up to Mannion's numbers, but he threw 11 touchdowns and managed just three interceptions. It's a competition in Corvallis, and there are definitely two viable options.
It took the Cardinal a little while to find Andrew Luck's eventual replacement, but they appear to have struck the right chord in Kevin Hogan. The mobile junior took over midway through last season and won each of the five games he started. At 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds, Hogan's tough as nails and the Cardinal coaching staff loves that he can take a hit.
Josh Nunes and Evan Crower will compete for the backup job to Hogan, but it appears as though their thoughts of starting at quarterback went out the window when Hogan succeeded.
Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Matt Barkley...The list of prolific USC quarterbacks goes on. However, this season is a different story as the Trojans are unproven at the quarterback position for the first time in four seasons. Right now, coach Lane Kiffin has three highly touted options to choose from, but will they pan out?
Sophomore Max Wittek played in the Sun Bowl after Matt Barkley was injured last season, but he'll face competition from fellow sophomore Cody Kessler and 5-star freshman Max Browne. Our bets are on Kiffin employing a quarterback-by-committee system, as he'll have to give each of the three an equal shot while still playing the hot hand.
8. Washington State
With the graduation of Jeff Tuel, the Washington State quarterback job appears to rest squarely on the shoulders of junior Connor Halliday. Fortunately for coach Mike Leach, Halliday saw plenty of action last season and displayed enough potential to warrant the starting job.
Halliday threw for 208.7 yards per game, and also threw for 15 touchdowns. His 13 interceptions were likely the result of growing pains, so it will be interesting to see how he adapts to owning the starting role this season. As of now, redshirt freshman Austin Apodaca is listed as the only other quarterback on the Cougars' roster.
A new coach, a new system, and a new quarterback. The Golden Bears know the coach is Sonny Dykes, the system will be a wide-open spread scheme, but now, they have to find the quarterback to run it. Cal lists five quarterbacks on its roster, but only three have a legitimate chance at winning the starting job.
Junior Austin Hinder, freshman Zach Kline, and freshman Jared Goff will go at it for the job. Kline and Goff are the local kids, but because Dykes is new in town, it's hard to get a read on who will ultimately earn the starting role.
The Utes list five different quarterbacks on their spring roster including returning starter Travis Wilson. Wilson saw significant time as a freshman last season, but threw for just 109.2 yards per game as Utah resorted to using a run-heavy offense.
Coach Kyle Whittingham is confident that the Utes can open up their offense this season because they have so many options (six players threw a pass in the spring game), but right now, it's a matter of sorting through those options and finding a winner.
How easy is it to replace the Pac-12 leader in total offense per game? As the Arizona Wildcats will soon learn, it's not that easy. Matt Scott was a solid fit for RichRod's system, but now that he's moved on to the NFL, the Wildcats are in desperate need of finding a replacement.
In the Wildcats' spring game, B.J. Denker and Jesse Scroggins took the majority of the repetitions, and Denker definitely outperformed his competition. However, it remains uncertain if the Wildcat coaching staff will settle on the senior, as they have not yet named a starter.
After a horrendous 2012 season, the Colorado Buffaloes hired Mike MacIntyre to right the ship. His first task will be selecting a quarterback, and no one in particular stands out. Jordan Webb saw time last season after transferring from Kansas, but his lackluster numbers and recent arrest will likely lead MacIntyre to look elsewhere.
Junior Connor Wood has experience, but he'll face competition from three other quarterbacks aside from Webb if he wants to start the rebuilding era as the Buffaloes' quarterback.
Be sure to check back next Friday as we unveil our Pac-12 Running Back Power Rankings.