WSU Football QB Battle: Will Apodaca or Bruggman Beat Out Halliday in 2014?

Here we are once again, in an interesting conversation about our quarterback “battle”.

Today it’s my thoughts on Connor Halliday’s skill sets vs Austin Apodaca’s. The original question deals with whether Tyler Bruggman could claim the starting job next season. Overall this is a good conversation and although I don’t think there’s any way a redshirt frosh starts over an experienced (if inconsistent) 5th year senior will ever happen with Mike Leach at the helm, I do think the argument is relevant.

I’ll give you a few interesting posts in the debate on the fan boards that this is off of, then my thoughts on the matter are last. Let us know in the comments your thoughts on what will happen.

1: I think Halliday has most of the physical tools, it is his decision making that seems to be lacking at times to me.  If Bruggman shows better football smarts, I think he will have a shot at starting.

I think T Tech has had 2 true Freshman at QB this year, and they are doing well in the Leach offense.

I don’t know if Bruggman is mobile at all, but that certainly wouldn’t hurt his chances.

2: I don’t think Halliday has any more physical tools than Bruggman or Apodaca outside of his height.  Halliday has zero touch, is inaccurate, and does not have the elite arm strength people constantly try to infer.  Bruggman and Apodaca both have a stronger arm and are more mobile at a minimum. I believe the both will be more accurate as they gain experience in the offense as well.

3: Leach will play the best guy.  I agree that Halliday will be the best guy, at least early in the season.  I don’t remember who the third OOC opponent is (EWU I think), but the schedule may allow for someone to get eased into the lineup.  Nevada isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire, and we must have a creampuff at home.  In theory, that ought to mean a chance for the backups to see some PT.

4 (in response to 2): Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong and yes.
It takes 5 years and a lot of luck to develop a 5th yr Quarterback and the braintrust on this board are willing to throw that away and start the process over again with a freshman.

5: Watch TB on the sidelines during games.  The guy is focused.  He hovers over Leach’s shouder each time coach talks to Halliday.  Contrariwise, AA tends to wander and watch the game.  TB seems intent on not missing any opportunity to learn.  I’m sticking to my guns, TB starts in 2013.  You heard it here.

6 (in response to 4):

Zero Touch – Correct (overthrows, underthrows, and lobs balls all the time)
Inaccurate – Correct (completion % is not all that goes into accuracy)
Elite Arm Strength – Not anymore than the other guys
Mobility – Not close to the Freshmen

7 (in response to 6):Halliday can throw the ball on a rope from one hash mark across the body to the other side of the field with incredible velocity.  This is the hardest throw to make in college football and it’s 100% completely predicated on arm strength, and Halliday can make that throw.  Apodaca can’t even come close.  I know, because he’s tried against Stanford.  The ball sailed like a paper airplane and got picked for six.  I think Halliday could easily throw the ball at least 10 yards farther than anything I’ve ever seen from Apodaca, in practice, or live.

Halliday’s arm strength isn’t the strongest I’ve seen at WSU by any means, but it’s most certainly stronger than Apodaca’s.  Any coach or color commentator would agree with me on this one.

As for Bruggman, I don’t know that yet

And finally ACU’s response:

Far as the physical tools’ debate goes, clearly Connor has a stronger arm (Stanford game will show that as you can see both Qb’s for yourself but you can also watch the sideline throw against OSU that floated out like a loaf of bread).

Clearly Connor has touch (rewatch the Auburn, Oregon, Calm Idaho, SUU and first half of Oregon State again, he throws some beautiful football’s). He isn’t the most consistent at knowing when to put air under the ball but he can do it with ease. Also, honestly I think the receivers give up on too many balls that other teams’ receiver go and get. Vs ASU Dom had at least 2 that were “overthrown” by 1 or 2 yards and he completely quit on them at the top of his route. Gabe does this a couple times per game as well. Just because the throw isn’t perfect doesn’t mean you give up on it, that’s the difference between a decent receiving corps and a good receiving corps (the effort on imperfect balls). What makes them great is if they make those catches. Have you seen a “layout” catch over the top this season? I sure don’t remember any (outside of some awesome catches from Cracraft on intermediate routes), but that’s exactly was I’m talking about.

But look at the throw to Mayle in the Cal game for the first td, the two fade routes at Oregon, the two balls to Dom vs SUU and again to Dom vs Idaho, the in-betweener to Ratliff vs Auburn and the first big pass to Dom vs Auburn. There are more.

Clearly he is the more accurate (63% – 50% and Apodaca was in against Stanford’s and OSU’s scouts in the 4th and SUU so no excuses, especially in small sample size).And clearly Apodaca is more mobile, but I think he bails too early which is a common freshman mistake. It is in fact something Connor did last year with regularity. Biggest problem for Connor, he is so worried about getting hit that he throws off of his back foot most of the time. He completes some that way, but he seems to complete them all when he’s confident in the protection and he actually steps into it. I gotta be honest, he hasn’t been right since Murphy drilled him in Seattle. I think the 2 outta 3 bye weeks will give us a better, healthier, more confident Connor Halliday.

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Tags: Connor Halliday Football Washington State Cougars

  • GoldenCoug


    I do see real shortcomings with Connor on the deep balls he throws. Yes it may be that the receiver quits on the route too soon sometimes but just as often they see the ball is over thrown by 2 yards and they can’t get too it. At the end of last season Dom was good on these type of throws and the difference was accuracy from Tuel vs Connor. I also have not seen one deep ball completed down the seam when we have had wide open receivers.

    I will pull for Connor to improve, but whoever can make the throws accurately ( provided they can read the defense) will win the job next fall.

    • Caleb Davis

      Yeah that deep seam route is one I don’t ever think I’ve seen CH complete. IDK what it is about that one but I hope they figure it out this week because it’s ruining the explosive aspect to our offense because people are covering the outside go routes better.

      I’m with you it’s whoever can read the defense the best and deliver the ball with consistency. This year i think it’s obvious that is Connor Halliday even though a lot of people say he’s not that good he’s the best we have right now and considering we’re still playing for something it makes no sense to play guys for the future, you do that when you have no hope at a bowl or even no real chance to win another game.

      I feel like next year Connor will take another step and push himself to the starting job… I look at what happens between someones JR and SR year in most cases and I am sure it will happen. Think back to Marshall Lobbestael. I mean he was never a GOOD quarterback but I’m talking in terms of improvement his senior year I didn’t even recognize him. He went from a 46% completion rate from the previous two years (meaning no improvement sophomore to junior year) to a 61% completion rate his SR year. His senior year he threw more TDs then he did his whole career up to that point and that was 19. My point is Connor will mature in his decision making ability because he finally has a full year of starting under his belt that he can reflect on and learn from. I think these bye weeks are a great chance for that. He even looked better vs ASU to me but then his receivers were dropping everything so saturday I believe is when we will really find out how this kid learns and grows… I’m pulling for him but I want the best guy starting next year, I just believe it’s going to be him

      • Interrogator

        Connor needs to push himself RIGHT NOW, not next year. It seems after all the derogatory comments the Arizona journalist made (see, if the Coaches pass those comments out before the game, that could make a huge impact on them. The vitriolic comments were inexcusable and will make them all mad as h–ll.

  • Interrogator

    One comment mentioned height, but let’s not forget that Johnny Manziel is only 6’1″, so Bruggman will be fine height-wise and may do better than the others with his decision-making. If I were a QB I would study every single game of PEYTON MANNING’s games, because his performance would be imprinted on my mind as the best role model there is in NFL right now. I mean I would replay and replay his games, and envision me making his plays. Not a day would go by that I wouldn’t be looking at those games, especially before bed. That would mature a young QB and give him direction. I also might even try to contact Archie Manning, his dad, and ask him for advice on what I could do to be the BEST that I could be!!

    Connor Halliday has talent. All he needs right now is one thing. To make up his mind to be determined (as he was the last game) NOT to throw any interceptions & to really “connect” with his WR’s, and he needs to tell his teammates that’s what he is doing when he gets INSIDE the huddle, not before. That’s my gut feeling. That’s it.