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Stanford QB battle quickly heating up

Kevin Hogan was drafted as the 162nd pick in the NFL draft, and as a result, for the first time since 2011, he will not be the starting quarterback for  Stanford. After three Pac-12 Championships, two Rose Bowl victories and 36 career wins, Hogan has set the bar high for his replacement.

The battle to replace Hogan as quarterback is between rising junior Keller Chryst and rising senior Ryan Burns as Stanford heads into summer training in preparation for their upcoming season.

Stanford head coach David Shaw insists that neither player has an advantage, and the final decision will not be made until the end of August training.

The annual Stanford Spring Game took place on April 9 and featured both quarterbacks. Since Chryst was recruited from Palo Alto High School, he has been the favored player in the Palo Alto community, but the spring game saw the tide turn in favor of Burns. Burns excelled in pocket passing, going 17 of 23 for 153 yards and two touchdowns.

Chryst took longer to get settled in, but he got rolling later on in the game, with 16 completed passes in 25 attempts for 156 yards and two touchdowns. This was a major improvement for Chryst from the 2015 spring game in which he went 1 for 8 with an interception.

“Obviously they’re both super talented, amazing arms,” former teammate  Zach Hoffpauir said in an interview with ISportsWeb. “Probably two of the best arms in the country or in the Pac-12. But now you can tell they are really commanding the offense, making their checks, their kills, all that stuff, so they are doing a great job.”

Neither quarterback needs to be the best in the Pac-12. because whoever starts will have the aid of elite running back Christian McCaffrey in the backfield.

“The biggest thing is just operating the machine,” Shaw said when discussing the role either quarterback needs to assume for the fall season.  “It starts, first and foremost, with getting in and out of the huddle as fast as possible to give us more time at the line of scrimmage; utilizing the snap-count, redirecting protections, handling the audible system; and getting the ball snapped before the 40-second clock and making great decisions [in live action].”

Even though neither Burns nor Chryst had a significant role on the field during the 2015 season, both had important jobs while on the sideline.

“I have Ryan and Keller check out the [defensive backs], and they always give me a report on the sideline of what [the secondary is] doing,” Hogan said in the days leading up to the December Rose Bowl. “I have no doubt that Keller and Ryan will be special players,” Hogan said.

The Cardinal have won three of the last four Pac-12 Championships, and many wonder if either quarterback can maintain that success. The team is experiencing significant losses on both the defensive and offensive sides through graduation and the NFL draft.

Shaw clearly has a tough decision to make when August comes. However, it should be another very good season for the Stanford Cardinal no matter who leads the team from under center next year.

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