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Times reporter Bob Condotta keeps the news coming about the Montlake Dawgs.

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July 15, 2008 1:32 PM

Rating the quarterbacks

Posted by Bob Condotta

ESPN.com's Ted Miller, who is blogging more often than Josh Hamilton homers, offered this look at the Pac-10's quarterbacks yesterday.

His conclusion? Arizona State's Rudy Carpenter is No. 1, followed by Arizona's Willie Tuitama, USC's Mark Sanchez and Washington's Jake Locker. The rest of the order: Nate Longshore of Cal, Ben Olson of UCLA, Nate Costa of Oregon, Lyle Moevao of Oregon State, Tavita Pritchard of Stanford and Gary Rogers of Washington State.

Miller writes that if Locker were "surrounded by budding NFL talent, he'd be Tim Tebow,'' notes that he improved on his passing accuracy in the spring, and that it "wouldn't be shocking if he accounted for 3,500 to 4,000 yards of total offense.'' Locker had 3,048 last year, the second-highest total in UW history behind only the 4,273 of Cody Pickett in 2002 when Pickett threw for a record 4,458.

As part of my duties for Lindy's pre-season preview, I helped the magazine compile its rankings by position. The one difference is that we look at the entire position --- including backups --- and not just the starter or starters.

Or rankings looked this way:

1, ASU
2, USC
3, Cal
4, Washington
5, Arizona
6, UCLA
7, Stanford
8, Oregon
9, Oregon State
10, Washington State

And here was our unedited analysis (meaning it might be a little different than actually appears in the magazine but I didn't want to simply copy all of that):

The conference of quarterbacks may be as thin as it has ever been this season in terms of established talent. Proven performers such as Dennis Dixon, Alex Brink and John David Booty are gone and there are only three teams certain to have the same starter as a year ago --- Arizona State’s Rudy Carpenter, Arizona’s Willie Tuitama and Washington’s Jake Locker.

All three could contend for all-conference honors and the player with the most upside may be Locker, a sophomore who has a strong throwing arm and also rushed for 986 yards, most ever for a Pac-10 QB. Locker needs only to improve his erratic throwing to become a superstar. Carpenter and Tuitama should each put up big numbers operating pass-happy offenses and each also has the advantage of being in a set system for a second straight season.

ASU may depend on Carpenter more than ever with a stud receiving corps but an unproven offensive line. Cal has a brewing battle between Nate Longshore and Kevin Riley and having two capable players gives the Bears an overall edge over many other Pac-10 teams.

USC hopes Mark Sanchez can make a seamless transition from the John David Booty era. If not, Arkansas transfer Mitch Mustain is waiting in the wings. UCLA has a potentially volatile situation with Patrick Cowan winning the job over Ben Olson in the spring (EDIT --- Cowan has since suffered a knee injury and is out for the spring). Stanford’s Tavita Pritchard and Oregon State’s Sean Canfield will each have to battle to hang onto their jobs (EDIT --- Moevao now appears to be OSU's starter) and Oregon and WSU are starting over with talented but unproven QBs.

Another ESPN writer, Bruce Feldman, agreed with my premise that the "conference of quarterbacks'' is a bit down this year, listing the Pac-10 sixth in his rating of positions by conference, writing that "the traditional No. 1 on this list is on the downside of the cycle.'' He calls Locker "the most exciting QB out west'' but says accurately that he must improve his completion percentage "if the Huskies hope to go bowling.'' He writes further that Locker and Sanchez are the two Pac-10 QBs who are the "keys for this group to make a big move up.''

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