The start of the 2013 college football season is now just over a week away. A slew of college games will kickoff next Thursday, Aug. 29 (including USC at Hawaii) with several more games the following night (including Michigan State hosting Western Michigan), before things really get crazy on Saturday the 31st.
Despite the close proximity to the start of the season, a handful of Notre Dame opponents still have decisions to make at the most important position on the field - quarterback. First year Purdue head coach Darrell Hazell did make his decision earlier this week.
"Rob Henry will be our quarterback for the 2013 season," Hazell announced to the media on Sunday.
Henry is a senior who saw action in eight games last season while splitting time with Caleb TerBush and Robert Marve at quarterback. He played both running back and receive last year as well. Henry was named Purdue's starter entering the 2011 season, but tore an ACL prior to the season-opener.
"I'm excited to be the starting quarterback," Henry said after the announcement. "But more excited to see where this year goes for the team."
Hazell said redshirt freshman Austin Appleby and freshman early enrollee Danny Etling will share time as Henry's backup. Neither has taken a snap in his career. Henry has 1,212 career yards and 11 touchdown passes in 22 games. He led the Boilermakers in both rushing and passing yards in 2010.
Purdue opens its season on Aug. 31 at Cincinnati. The Irish travel to West Lafayette to face Purdue on Sept. 14.
Notre Dame's season-opening opponent is yet to announce just who will start at quarterback when the Owls visit Notre Dame Stadium on Aug. 31. The battle is between senior Clinton "Juice" Granger and redshirt junior Connor Reilly.
First year Temple head coach Matt Rhule said this week that Reilly has "a little bit of a sprained ankle" that has slowed him down this week. Reilly, who also played baseball for Temple in 2012, played in 11 games for the Owls last season, but he was primarily a holder for extra points and field goals. He had a good showing in spring practice that vaulted him to the front of the quarterback derby.
Granger played for two years at a California junior college before transferring to Temple in 2011. He played in seven games last year, with two starts under former head coach Steve Addazio. He passed for 370 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 206 yards and another TD.
"He's throwing the football really well," Rhule told Owlsports.com on Monday of Granger. "We know he can run, but he's throwing the ball real well."
In that same interview, Rhule was far from definitive on who his starter will be when Temple travels to Notre Dame.
"We're gonna keep this thing going until we make a decision as a staff," he said.
The Fighting Irish don't face the Trojans until Oct. 19, but Lane Kiffin still has not decided on a starter to replace Matt Barkley. The Trojans practiced under the lights at the L.A. Coliseum Sunday night and redshirt sophomore Cody Kessler took the majority of the snaps there. Kessler is battling with the slightly more experienced Max Wittek.
"I don't know," Kiffin told the L.A. Times when asked about the recent performances of his two quarterbacks. "We were scrambling around getting different drills done. I've got to go back and look at it. I'm not sure."
Kessler passed for all of nine yards last year for the Trojans. He was the team's placekick holder in 2012 after redshirting as an early enrollee in 2011. Wittek passed for 388 yards with three touchdowns and five interceptions while playing in eight games as Barkley's backup last season. He started against Notre Dame and then Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl (both losses) after Barkley was lost to injury.
Also of note, Southern Cal receiver Marqise Lee has been wearing a yellow jersey at practice to warn teammates against making contact with him as he recovers from a shoulder injury. Lee won the Biletnikoff Award last year (nation's top receiver) after totaling 1,721 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns as a sophomore.
USC opens its season Aug. 29 at Hawaii.
Bob Stoops is still playing coy publicly about naming his starting quarterback. KFOR TV though is reporting that redshirt freshman Trevor Knight has beaten redshirt junior Blake Bell for the starting job. Stoops has made an official announcement though.
"When we're ready we'll say so," Stoops told the media this week. "Nothing at quarterbacks, what else, anything else you guys want to know?"
Knight passed for 27 touchdowns and 2,092 yards with just three interceptions and rushed for 943 more yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior at San Antonio's Reagan High School last year.
Bell is considered more one-dimensional. Known as the "Bell-dozer", the 6-foot-6, 252 pound quarterback rushed for 372 yards and 24 touchdowns in short yardage and goal line situations as former OU quarterback Landry Jones' backup in 2011 and 2012. He is just 10-for-20 for 115 passing yards in that time.
Stoops is expected to officially name his starter this Friday. Oklahoma opens its season on Aug. 31 when it hosts Louisiana-Monroe. The Sooners visit Notre Dame Stadium on Sept. 28.
If Spartan head coach Mark Dantonio knows who his starting quarterback will be, he has not let on yet. Dantonio said going into a scrimmage last Saturday that incumbent Andrew Maxwell "continues to be our starter", but the head coach has kept the competition at the position open this week.
Connor Cook and Tyler O'Connor appeared to be Maxwell's main competition going into the scrimmage, but then true freshman Damion Terry emerged by passing for 240 yards and three touchdowns, including a lot of reps against the Spartan's first team defense, in the scrimmage.
"We've got to see if he's consistent with his performance that he displayed on Saturday," Dantonio said this week of Terry. "We're going to find that out."
Dantonio termed the competition for the job "a four-horse race" by the end of the scrimmage. The head coach has also previously indicated that he will use more than one quarterback in games to begin the season. Michigan State opens its season a week from Friday (Aug. 30) against Western Michigan. The Spartans visit Notre Dame on Sept. 21.