Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 7/24/12
LOS ANGELES Matt Barkley is comfortable carrying the torch for the Pac-12 Conference. Thats good because the gulf between Barkley and the conferences second hottest QB is as vast as the gap between Barkleys USC Trojans and their next closest competitor in the Pac-12 South Division. There is still a lot of talent at the quarterback position, Barkley countered modestly from Pac-12 Media Day on Tuesday at Universal Studios. I don't think it will be just me at all. There will be quarterbacks making a statement all around the country, all across the Pac-12 and I think it's cool to see. It adds more competition. Time may prove Barkley correct, but the league that commissioner Larry Scott last season dubbed the conference of quarterbacks is so inexperienced and unknown this year at the position that its time for a new moniker. How about the conference of question marks? This offseason, the Pac-12 lost four big names in Stanfords Andrew Luck, Arizona States Brock Osweiler, Arizonas Nick Foles and Oregons Darron Thomas. Luck, Osweiler and Foles went in the first, second and third rounds of the NFL Draft, respectively. In their absence, the No. 1 contender status likely shifts to Washington junior Keith Price, who has some impressive credentials. Price threw for 3,063 yards and a school-record 33 touchdowns last season with 11 interceptions. But his real coming out party came in the Alamo Bowl in a showdown with Heisman Trophy winner and Baylor QB Robert Griffin III. In that game, Price threw for 438 yards and accounted for seven touchdowns -- four passing, three rushing -- in a 67-56 Baylor win. I knew it was a big stage, Price said Tuesday. Either you show up or you go home. The next step for me is recognizing defenses and being able to change protections and getting ourselves into the manageable plays without coach (Steve Sarkisian) having to tell me. If Price can take that step, the Huskies could challenge youth-laden Oregon for the Pac-12 North title. As for who will emerge from the rest of the conferences signal callers, its anybodys guess. Utahs Jordan Wynn suffered a season-ending shoulder injury after just four games last season. Washington States Jeff Tuel played just three games due to a variety of maladies but gets to work this season with passing-game wizard Mike Leach. Cals Zach Maynard struggled with consistency and doesnt have a wealth of receivers to help him out. Oregon States Sean Mannion threw more interceptions (18) than TDs (16). Arizona State, Oregon, Arizona, Stanford and Colorado will all be starting new quarterbacks, though Arizona's is a fifth-year senior, Matt Scott, with starting experience. UCLA will conduct a competition between incumbent Kevin Prince, Richard Brehaut and redshirt freshman Brett Hundley, who played at Chandler High School. We would have liked to have made a decision on who our starter was going to be coming out of spring practice, UCLA coach Jim Mora said. That didnt happen. Regardless of who we decide to go with, I think it will be the right person and they will do a tremendous job for us this year. But obviously, the quarterback is a very, very important position on the field.
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