College Football QBs Who Will Surpass 3,000 Yards Passing in 2013
You're in Las Vegas and a man, properly credentialed, approaches you with a contest. Pick any eight quarterbacks in all of college football, and if the entire list passes for 3,000-plus yards, he'll pay you out a tidy cash prize.
A guy who throws for 4,000 yards does nothing for you over a guy with 3,001. All you need are the eight safest bets to cross that 3k threshold—everything else is moot.
How would you put together the list?
It's a pretty complicated question. What do you do with Johnny Manziel? How confident can you be that he'll even play this season? Are you willing to risk your wager on such an important unknown?
Of the guys who aren't being investigated by the NCAA, don't there have to be eight better sure-fire bets?
It's not as easy as it sounds.
8. Shane Carden, East Carolina
2012 Passing Yards: 3,116
Carden barely eked out 3,000 yards a season ago, but he remains one of the safest bets to repeat that feat in 2013.
Now a junior, Carden will start to show the poise and command of an upperclassman. Neither of those were necessarily lacking in 2012, but that's the natural progression of quarterbacks at this ripe level.
In wide receiver Justin Hardy, he also has a legitimate go-to target—a front-runner to be this year's non-power-conference receiver who explodes in a national capacity, much like Quinton Patton did for Louisiana Tech last season.
Head coach Ruffin McNeill has never NOT produced a 3,000-yard passer in his three years at the helm. There's no reason to believe Carden will regress and become the first.
7. Brett Hundley, UCLA
2012 Passing Yards: 3,740
Hundley was closer to 4,000 yards than 3,000 as a redshirt freshman last year, and that was with Johnathan Franklin stealing most of the Bruins' touches.
Now, with Franklin playing in Green Bay, Hundley becomes the undisputed first option in Los Angeles. He's a dual-threat guy by definition, but his arm talent is his most impressive trait.
The Bruins' defense should be better this season—especially now that Eddie Vanderdoes is eligible—so there's a small chance they dial back the passes.
But UCLA should still give Hundley more than enough attempts to break 3,000.
6. Aaron Murray, Georgia
2012 Passing Yards: 3,893
Of all the quarterbacks listed, Murray stands the biggest chance of ceding reps to his running game. Unlike most teams whose QBs post gaudy numbers, the Bulldogs have Keith Marshall and Todd Gurley, two of the best tailbacks in football.
But that wasn't enough to stop Murray from posting nearly 3,900 yards last season, and it should't be enough in 2013 either. Georgia's emotional and physical leader is too efficient with his passes—especially his deep ones—to be shut out from the 3k club.
That holds doubly true if Georgia's defense, the team's biggest question mark this season, forces it to keep throwing late in games.
5. Derek Carr, Fresno State
2012 Passing Yards: 4,104
Derek Carr is the latest in the line of great Fresno State QBs and the second in the line of Carrs who were dominant (college) passers.
The younger brother of David, Derek established his own legacy by passing for 4,104 yards as a junior in 2012. He helped turn Davante Adams into a freshman All-American by feeding him 102 catches for 1,312 yards (and 14 touchdowns), and that dynamic duo should be back with a vengeance this season.
The Bulldogs are a trendy sleeper pick to make some national noise and/or crash the final BCS. If they do, Derek might not be known as simply "David's younger brother" for very long.
4. Teddy Bridgewater, Louisville
2012 Passing Yards: 3,718
For someone who makes so much noise as a prospect, Teddy Bridgewater is kind of quiet in putting together his numbers.
He never surpassed 425 yards in a game last year and topped 300 in less than half of the Cardinals' games. But his remarkable consistency—only finishing once below 190 yards—still allowed him to throw for over 3,700 yards on the season, good for seventh among returning passers.
This year, Bridgewater's national title-dreaming unit sees the return of explosive playmaker Michaelee Harris, one of the QB's favorite targets in 2011. It's hard to see his numbers taking much of a (if any) dip.
3. David Fales, San Jose State
2012 Passing Yards: 4,193
Fales might be the most accurate passer in college football, leading the nation with 72.5 percent completions in 2012. But despite rumblings about his subpar arm strength, he still knows how to get the ball down the field.
And even if San Jose State abandons the pistol formation in 2012, there's no way the Spartans will tell Fales to stop airing it out.
2. QB Tajh Boyd, Clemson
2012 Passing Yards: 3,896
Boyd has breezed past the 3,000-yard plateau in each of his two seasons under center. He's never finished with less than 3,800 and might be poised for career bests in his senior campaign.
Even with DeAndre Hopkins gone, Boyd has a plethora of weapons in Sammy Watkins, Martavis Bryant and freshman tight end Jordan Leggett. Bryant, in particular, has the chance to emerge as a household name opposite Watkins; he averaged 30.5 yards on his 10 catches last year.
There's no reason to believe the Tigers defense will be better than it was last season, so Boyd will probably continue airing it out all game.
1. Rakeem Cato, Marshall
2012 Passing Yards: 4,210
Cato is the top returning passer in college football, leading the country in both completions and attempts last season.
Doc Holliday hasn't been a traditionally high-octane coach, but he let personnel dictate his play-calling in 2012. Even if his natural inclination said to dial things back, his players suggested a pass-heavy approach.
Cato has one of the nation's best receivers, Tommy Shuler, back in Huntington, which means it should be more of the same this coming year.