Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Ranking the Quarterbacks: 2007

Yep, it's that time of year again. This was a feature I started last summer in order to preview some of Navy's opponents for the upcoming season, and thanks to a fairly significant degree of feedback (for this blog anyway) I've decided to do it again. Let me start of by saying that it was especially difficult to order the given players this year because there was no clear favorite. Last season it was obvious that the likes of Brady Quinn and Trent Edwards were at the top because of their clear NFL potential, but this season we see a good deal of uncertainty at the quarterback position for many of Navy's opponents. For teams that still do not have a clear cut starter going into next year I've either projected a starter or just ranked everyone in the same boat. So, for my purposes, all three Notre Dame quarterbacks in contention are ranked as basically the same guy since Charlie Weis can't seem to find a clear cut favorite. I've listed only those quarterbacks from the FBS, but like last year I'll have a separate preview of Navy's FCS opponent (Delaware) at a later date. As usual, please feel free to disagree in the comment section below.

Riley Skinner, Wake Forest

Hey, why not? Before last season began, everyone assumed the Demon Deacons would go with incumbent Ben Mauk, who had seen significant playing time over the past few seasons and had been a highly touted quarterback out of High School. Fortunately for Wake Forest (although not at the time) Mauk broke his arm in the opener and in stepped Riley Skinner, a 6'1, 200-lb redshirt freshmen who had never taken a college snap. The rest is, as they say, history, although very recent history at that. Skinner wasn't lights out for the Demon Deacons last season, and he's not going to put up huge numbers in Jim Grobe offense, but he does manage the game effectively and most importantly finds a way to win. He's not a phenomenal runner outside the pocket but is willing to carry the football, take hits, and even block for running backs out of the backfield. To be short, this guy is just a winner who is willing to do anything for his team. He threw for just over 2000 yards last season with a 9-5 ratio while completing an impressive 65% of his passes en route to being named 2nd Team All-ACC. With a full year under his belt I expect Skinner to have a better understanding of the offense and for the Grobe and the coaching staff to be more comfortable letting loose the talented quarterback in 2007.

Nate Davis, Ball State

Is Nate Davis the next great MAC quarterback? If his freshman campaign was any indicator, he very well may be, as he completed over 61% of his passes for just under 2000 yards with an 18-8 touchdown to interception ratio. He was one of the most highly recruited quarterback to commit to a MAC school in recent memory, and brandishes one of the strongest arms in the entire conference. He nearly led the Cardinals to a huge upset over then 2nd ranked Michigan in week ten, and threw for more than 200 yards in each of his last three games. With seven starts under his belt from his true Freshman year I only expect Davis to be better in 2007, and with both his top receivers back should be poised to put up big numbers this fall.

Jimmy Clausen/Evan Sharpley/Demetrius Jones, Notre Dame

Well, this certainly isn't going to do anything to break the perception that I'm something of a Notre Dame fan. To be honest, I'm not crazy about putting three untested quarterbacks this high, but it is what it is. All of these quarterbacks were top 15 prospects at the quarterback position coming out of High School, with Clausen being the top overall prospect in the country according to Rivals.com last season. All thee of these quarterbacks bring something different to the offense, and it's not impossible to see them used interchangeably in 2007. I believe that Sharpley will begin the year but think by the time the Navy game roles around the Irish may have Jimmy Clausen at the helm. All the better I suppose, because he annoys a lot of people, including me.

Mike Teel, Rutgers

Admittedly, I'm not sold on Teel or Rutgers. This is a top 25 team and perhaps even a top 20 team, but all this talk about being a legitimate national title contender is getting annoying. Mike Teel has good size and a solid arm as well as two years of starting experience, yet sill has struggled with his accuracy. He threw for 2135 yards last season with a 12-13 touchdown to interception ratio but "only" completed 55% of his passes. Against my better judgement I'm going to list him this high because of his experience and because he has an underrated group of wide receivers to throw to. Rutgers is still going to live and die based on how well Ray Rice and the running game do, so don't expect Teel to be named to any All-Big East teams anytime soon.

Shaun Carney, Air Force

Part of me wants to put Carney higher on this list because numbers wise, the guy looks very, very good. The reality is that Carney is one of the better duel-threat quarterbacks in the country, but the thing is, if he were that good, why would his team be that bad? Sure he puts up the stats, but stats really don't mean much when you can't win on a consistent basis. To be fair, the Falcons have had some bad luck over the past couple of seasons, but Carney's decision to attend the The United States Air Force Academy over the United States Naval Academy doesn't look to good in retrospect, at least from a football perspective. Still, Carney brandishes a surprisingly strong arm despite his 5'10 size., and believe it or not he's been among the most accurate quarterbacks in the nation couple seasons. He'll probably shatter every major Air Force passing record by the time his career ends after this season, but then again he also stands a good chance to become the first Air Force QB to lose four straight starts against Navy.

Pat Bostick/Bill Stull, Pittsburgh

It's tough to rank these two so low because I'm convinced Bostick can be a very good quarterback at the collegiate level in the near future, while Stull has spent a fair amount of time within the system and could easily win the job too. That being said Pitt fans are very concerned about their quarterback prospects for 2007 after the departure of Tyler Palko, who was a very highly touted player who had been in the program since 2002. Bostick was the 6th rated high school quarterback according to Scout.com last season, and a five star recruit with a big arm and great poise in the pocket. Because he's the long term solution I'm projecting him as the starter, but he will struggle in 2007.

Thaddeus Lewis/Zach Asack, Duke

As of right now rising sophomore Thaddeus Lewis is the starter, but don't be surprised if 2005's starter Zach Asack wins back the job this summer. As many of you know, Asack was expected to lead the Blue Devils last season, but a spring plagiarism scandal left him off the team and out of the University, not to mention derailing what little hopes Duke had in 2006. Lewis did an admirable job filling in, but it was apparent the true freshmen was overwhelmed from day one. Lewis hit 52% of his passes last year for 2134 yards while sporting a 11-16 ratio. Asack returns this summer and gives the Blue Devils a solid option if Lewis struggles. Both of these players aren't necessary bad quarterbacks and should be much better in 2007, especially considering the team returns all of their skill position players from 2006.

Dan Nicholson, Northern Illinois

Nicholson has five career starts for NIU and I could have easily put him ahead of the Pittsburgh and Duke duos. He's passed for nearly 15oo yards in his career and sports an 11-8 touchdown to interception ratio while hitting 56.7% of his passes. He ended the season on a high note in the start against Eastern Michigan, going 24-37 for 261 yards but was absolutely overwhelmed in the Bowl game against a swarming TCU defense. With no Garret Wolfe this year he's going to be under more pressure to give the offense a spark, and despite the return of the team's three top receivers I think Nicholson will struggle in 2007.

Carson Williams, Army

If I had to write one sentence about Army quarterbacks Dave Peveto and Carson Williams from all of last season, it would be this; When they don't throw interceptions, they're actually pretty good. Unfortunately for the United States Military Academy and all of it's fans, interceptions were something of a norm last season, as Peveto tossed 14 while Williams tossed ten. When you considered they only combined for ten touchdown passes, you can arrive at the fairly obvious conclusion that Army should be running the ball more. Peveto is a senior this season and has the most experience, but every projection I've read has Williams' quarterbacking the Black Knights next year so for the purposes of this preview we'll project him as the starter. Either way both quarterbacks will have to adjust to a new system, which is usually a struggle. Both of these quarterbacks have the physical tools to be decent players, but until they can show that their propensity to turn the ball over was limited to the 2006 season, I unfortunately can't list them any higher in my assessment. For what it's worth, I really hope this Army program can turn it around sometime in the near future.

Adam DiMichele/Vaughn Carlton, Temple

DiMichele was horrible against Navy last season, while Carlton actually showed some ability to lead the offense down field. During the MAC regular season it was DiMichele who actually played the best though, hitting 65% of his passes for 1050 yards and a 9-6 ratio against the six MAC teams he faced. DiMichele originally accepted an offer from Penn St. a few years back but chose baseball instead. After that tanked he came back to football, although not to the acclaim he had coming out of High School. Temple has a talented group of receivers who should be able to help both of these quarterbacks next season, including Travis Shelton, who runs an alleged sub 4.3 (fat chance, but he is fast.) I look for both of these quarterbacks to make strides and be better players next season, although they're still at the bottom of the list.

Anyone from North Texas

This is basically a wide open race between three quarterbacks who all had chances to start last season and all struggled mightily. The good news here is that new Head coach Todd Dodge is renowned for his ability to mentor quarterbacks on the high school level, including current Missouri star Chase Daniel. This entire unit should improve, but it's clearly the worst of the Navy's opponents from the FBS.

BTW, writing this post (as well as several others recently) has really made me aware that I hate blogger. It's difficult to use and the formatting sucks, so please excuse the lack of symmetry in this post.


Dan said...

I think Dan Nicholson will do ok in 2007. He's got the best arm in the MAC. That TCU game was no indication of the type of pressure he'll face this year (TCU was awesome and manhandled NIU line)
The Iowa game at Soldier Field will be a good indicator.

Gary said...

I think any of these guys could give us trouble (no matter what the past)if we dont put any pressure on them.
Remember Mike Teel who was getting wrote up as the weak link of Rutgers when he came in and torched us because we could not get near him.