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September 2, 2005
The two-deep: Depth chart changes and surprises
So each week in the Rivals.com Two Deep column, we'll look at significant depth chart changes around college football.
When a star tackle goes down with an injury, you'll read about his replacement here. If a big-name linebacker is suspended or a major quarterback gets yanked, Rivals.com will provide insight into what the changes mean to the teams.
Heading into the 2005 season, several high-profile programs have waited until the final week of August to distinguish between the starting and backup quarterbacks. Read on to find out what each man under center will bring in the first week of the season.
Tennessee starter: Erik Ainge, So.
But Clausen enjoyed success of his own last season, stepping in when Ainge went down with a season-ending injury. Clausen orchestrated three wins in four games and earned MVP honors at the Cotton Bowl.
Though both quarterbacks have strong arms, UT Coach Phillip Fulmer said Ainge got the nod primarily due to foot speed. "Erik will start the game because we think he gives us a bit more mobility. He went up to the Notre Dame game last year and had not given up a sack," Fulmer said.
Fulmer also noted that Ainge does a better job in the vertical passing game. Even so, Fulmer plans on getting Clausen playing time this week against UAB. Ainge doesn't have a lock on the starting job, so if he struggles on Saturday and Clausen excels, don't be surprised to see the senior get the starting nod against Florida in Week 2.
Coming into fall camp, Bobby Bowden said Weatherford and Lee had an equal shot at the starting job. Though both struggled early on in scrimmages, Weatherford showed the most improvement. Weatherford probably would have won the starting job anyway, but Lee's missed week due to a minor shoulder injury sealed the deal.
Bowden and the Florida State coaching staff have been careful to distinguish that they have named a starter – not a No. 1 quarterback. If Lee is ready as expected for the Miami game, he will see playing time.
With Weatherford on the field, the Seminoles have the quarterback who has improved dramatically over the last couple of weeks. When Lee is on the field, they have a dual-threat quarterback with an extremely powerful arm. Note: Should Lee's shoulder flare-up become something more serious, the backup role would probably fall to walk-on junior Thomas Keane, the only other quarterback on the Seminoles' roster.
Oklahoma starter: Paul Thompson, Jr.
Thompson has been in the Stoops system since 2002. He put up impressive numbers in a reserve role in 2002 and 2003, completing 66 percent of his passes while rushing for 6.3 yards per carry. Bomar, a redshirt freshman, was a five-star prospect in the class of 2004. He's less mobile than Thompson but still racked up more than 7,700 yards of total offense in high school.
Long and Stoops gave Thompson the starting blessing because the junior has collegiate experience. He outplayed Bomar during scrimmages by taking fewer risks downfield. Thompson will throw more quick outs, curls and dumps to the running back. Bomar has a tendency to make big plays on deep routes, but he occasionally gives up big plays to the defense, as well.
Long hasn't ruled out a two-quarterback system, though, and he plans to make adjustments to the depth chart throughout the season as performance merits.
Cal starter: Nate Longshore, Fr.
Ayoob's primary advantage over Longshore is his mobility in the pocket, although with 3,679 passing yards and 35 scores in 2004, his arm can obviously be relied on, as well. But Longshore has had an entire season to learn the ins and outs of Tedford's offense. He showed promise during the spring game when he completed 5 of 6 passes for 102 yards and three touchdowns. With a strong arm and a developing rapport with the speedy Cal receivers, Longshore excelled during fall camp.
Tedford has promised that, though Longshore will take the first snap, both quarterbacks will see time on Saturday. But Tedford doesn't want a quarterback-by-committee approach, so expect a permanent starter to emerge in the coming weeks.
Others to watch:
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