Coming back B1G: Quarterbacks
It’s that time of year in college football fandom. The leaves are turning brown and falling to the ground. You can smell bitter cold on the horizon. The dead period of winter is upon us. So basically, it’s time to make lists of things to get us through the next several months whilst the winds whip and the sun of kickoff seems so far off in the distance, you need a seance just to invoke visions of it.
To start, we’ll go with B1G quarterbacks, both because people like to read/get faux offended by stuff about quarterbacks, and because it’s the most important position in the sport. Without any further ado, the top five:
1. Connor Cook, Michigan State: He might look like a hipster, unconventional pick, but let’s be honest … Cook got it done when it had to be done last year, and before you scoff at his statistics, recognize that he had 21 TD’s and 6 picks, which is not too shabby. Cook’s 58 percent completion percentage leaves much to be desired, but a lot of that is from the first three games of the season, when drops were rampant and he eclipsed 55 percent only once. His only below 50 percent game from there on out was when they scored 41 against Nebraska. Make no mistake, he’s ascending and enters the league as the best returning starter at the position.
2. Braxton Miller, Ohio State: Let this sink in: Braxton Miller is still at Ohio State. I suppose logic dictates that when you start winning a ton of games as a freshman, your college career to the outsider seems like it goes at glacial pace. Injury has nagged Braxton at times, but it’s hard to ignore a guy who returns after slinging 24 TD’s to 7 picks and is an astounding 23-2 in his last two years as a starter. You do wonder about his completion percentage though, eclipsing 45 percent only once in his last four B1G games. The running game won’t be as big of a fall back option this year.
3. Devin Gardner, Michigan: Gardner actually returns as the top QB rating leader from 2013 with over 100 passes completed. He also returns as the leader in yards from scrimmage with 3,500. And his problems with turnovers throwing are much over rated, having thrown only one interception in his final six games. If there’s a negative to what Gardner has done, it’s that he’s holding onto the ball too long with a sieve-like offensive line that gave up 34 sacks to him … and he’s mobile … last season. He figures to improve, considering two years ago he was playing WR and has started only one full season in college.
4. Christian Hackenberg, Penn State: Hackenberg has been like those new french fry dips at Red Robin … every bit as good as advertised. In his last five games in his … ahem … freshman year, he went for 8 TDs to 2 picks. The ails are mostly that of freshman stuff. Early season stats bogging down the season ending total, low completion percentage. He’ll improve. It’ll be interesting to see what James Franklin does, because Vandy QB’s were fairly mobile under him, but let’s not kid ourselves: they’ll both figure one another out and those win things will follow.
5. Tre Roberson, Indiana: It’s hard to believe #5 on this list isn’t a lock/even likely to start, but it’s America, and people buy Daughtry CD’s … to listen to … so anything is possible here. Truth is, that’s a testament to what Indiana has rolling, because Nate Sudfeld could easily be here. Roberson returns as the leader in QB rating at 158.2 after 15 TDs, 4 picks, and 1 sack given. The last is particularly impressive, given that Sudfeld was sacked once on every 20.1 attempts while Roberson was sacked once in 138 attempts. Which means it probably wasn’t the offensive line, it was Roberson. Who knows what comes down the pike with IU’s QB situation (insert cut and paste text from last year), but surely they’ll be in good hands.
Tune in next time, where we’ll do another position and rank the players returning.