No college football conference is more dependent on its quarterbacks than the Pac-10. But as teams begin to order their depth charts in spring camps, questions abound under center.
While a handful of schools can point to entrenched starters at quarterback — Arizona with sophomore Willie Tuitama, Stanford with senior Trent Edwards and Washington State with senior Alex Brink — seven programs have multiple options at the position.
Here's a quick look at some of the conference's top quarterback duels playing out this spring:
The case for John David Booty: Since graduating from high school early to compete for the job vacated by Carson Palmer, Booty, now a junior, has waited and learned behind Matt Leinart.
The case for Mark Sanchez: Praised for his poise and leadership, the redshirt freshman gained an edge on Booty when the latter was shut down for at least the spring due to back surgery.
On the beat: "The key will be how much (Booty) can do before fall camp. If Booty's not there, I'd be surprised if he starts against Arkansas. (USC coach Pete Carroll) would like a set quarterback, but he's been open to using an early bye to rethink things." - Todd Harmonson, Orange County Register
Projected starter: Booty.
The case for Nate Longshore: The transition from Aaron Rodgers to Longshore was going smoothly until Longshore, then a redshirt freshman, suffered a season-ending ankle injury in the first half of the first game of last season.
The case for the field: Seniors Joe Ayoob and Steve Levy played extensively last year, with Levy out-performing the more-heralded Ayoob in the latter's first year in Division I. Redshirt freshman Kyle Reed was a big-time recruit last spring.
On the beat: "The battle won't be completed until fall camp, but I'm 90 percent sure Longshore will have the inside track." - Bruce Adams, San Francisco Chronicle
Projected starter: Longshore.
The case for Dennis Dixon: A tremendous athlete who fits the Ducks' spread option attack, the junior started in relief of injured Kellen Clemens last season and led the team to the Holiday Bowl.
The case for Brady Leaf: Leaf is a big, pocket passer in the mold of former Washington State star and older brother Ryan Leaf. The junior played extensively down the stretch for the Ducks, who don't shy from platooning quarterbacks.
On the beat: "Dixon has been No. 1 all along and, as (Oregon coach Mike) Bellotti said, 'We've just tended to play our backup more than other people are comfortable doing.' They won their last three regular-season games and they were pleased with the way both guys came on." - Bob Clark, Eugene Register-Guard
Projected starter: Dixon.
The case for Isaiah Stanback: More dangerous with his feet than his arm, the senior incumbent from Seattle made few mistakes and had nearly 3,500 yards total offense in 11 starts.
The case for the field: A better passer than Stanback, junior Johnny DuRocher nearly won the starting job last summer then pushed Stanback throughout the fall until suffering a wrist fracture. Junior Carl Bonnell sat out last year with a bruised thigh but started two games in 2003.
On the beat: "Lock might be slightly too strong, but to quote the offensive coordinator, 'It's (Stanback's) job to lose.’ ’’ - Bob Condotta, Seattle Times
Projected starter: Stanback.
The case for Matt Moore: The former UCLA Bruin threw 19 interceptions compared to 11 touchdowns in his first season in Corvallis, but his experience and the fact that he's a senior with 24 games under his belt plays in his favor.
The case for Sean Canfield: A redshirt freshman, Canfield was a top 20 quarterback recruit out of San Diego and is viewed as the future of the Beaver program.
On the beat: "Moore is the No. 1 guy, no question. The thinking is (Canfield) will be the quarterback of the future once Moore leaves." - Kevin Hampton, Corvallis Gazette Times
Projected starter: Moore.
The case for Ben Olson: A year at BYU, two years on a Mormon mission and a year backing up Drew Olson (no relation) have done little to lessen the hype around the sophomore, who is considered a better prospect than his predecessor.
The case for Patrick Cowan: The UCLA coaching staff insists that the competition to replace Drew Olson is open, but Cowan, a sophomore, was not highly recruited and is likely to become a career backup.
On the beat: "They're making it look like a battle just for the competition aspect in practices, but Olson will be the starting quarterback." - Robert Kuwada, Orange County Register
Projected starter: Olson.
— Compiled by Matt Simpson