There are the Haves, and the Have-nots. Two distinct groups of teams who are either going into Summer completely set at the quarterback position, or embroiled in a chaotic, fact-finding mission to figure out who will be their leader. In either case, here are the teams who have a chance to make it to the BCS bowls by virtue of their quarterback, and others who have no prayer at all.
Oklahoma. Sam Bradford is da bomb, and the most under rated quarterback in college football. He has a 8-36 pass ratio, throws 69.5%, averages over 220 yards per game and has an astounding 176.5 QB rating. When are the football analysts going to give him props? Boomer Sooner.
Ohio State. Not only do they have Boeckman back, but a killer back field to take the pressure off of him and keep the D honest. They also have the anointed one- Terrelle Pryor. They are stacked. The Buckeye's season starts or ends on September 13th against USC. Boeckman's pass ratio (14-25) and QB rating (148.9) are solid. The Bucks are solid everywhere.
Florida. Gee, having a Heisman winner who can run and throw is about as good as it gets. But it could get better if the Gators had a more established running game and a possession back who can take some of the pressure off of Superman. Losing to Michigan in the Capitol One Bowl was a bummer for Tebow, but then again, no one really expected a lot from the Gators in 2007. Details, minor details.
Graham Harrell. Here is a perfect example of a brilliant quarterback not getting enough attention. Sure he's partly brilliant by being the product of the Red Raiders' system, but who cares? He plays in the Big 12! Chew on these stats: pass ratio is 14-48, QB rating is 157, and he has a 71.8% completion rate. Are you kidding me? He also has the best receiver in college football to throw to: Michael Crabtree. Tech is loaded and raring to go.
Illinois. Surprised? Don't be. The Fighting Illini have the Juice and Arrelious Benn as the one-two Dynamic Duo knockout punch, but no Mendenhall. Still, they have the goods to get it done. Their first game is at Mizzou, so this could be an early sign of where the Illini are at in terms of replacing some key starters.
Mizzou. Climb aboard the Chase Daniel bandwagon. Last year was no fluke. And let's be honest here, Mizzou got the short end of the stick on BCS Selection Day, so they have revenge on their minds. Look for Chase to be one of the contenders for the Heisman and the Tigers to challenge (again) for the Big 12 crown. If they could just get past Oklahoma.
South Florida. Matt Grothe likes to fly low under the radar. Unfortunately, the word is out on him. Grothe has been bestowed with Big East honors, but what he really wants is the championship. This is the year that he'll get his best chance. If they can get RB Mike Ford more involved, then the pressure wouldn't be so great on him. His stats aren't great- 121, 59%, and 14-14 ratio- but this year he will improve greatly.
West Virginia. See Pat White pass. See Pat White run. See Pat White in New York in December. Like Grothe, he probably doesn't get the respect he deserves because he's in the Big East. That'll change this year. But he can't lose big games at the end of the year. His 151 QB rating is nothing to sneeze at.
Kansas. Todd Reesing put on a great show last year with a 7-33 pass ratio and a 148 QB rating. This year, he has another chance to shine under Mangino's genius mind. The problem for Kansas is a bit more daunting this year- they aren't going to sneak in the Big 12 and surprise anyone. It''s tough when you have a bulls-eye on your back.
Clemson. Cullen Harper set 21 school passing records last year. With a very good 2007 under their belt and fifteen starters coming back, they could give the usual ACC suspects- Va Tech, Florida State and Boston College- something to think about. Scratch that. A lot.
Arizona State. Rudy Carpenter, so far, has filled those big shoes that Sam Keller left when he transferred to Nebraska. He stats are good- over 61% completions, 10-25 pass ratio, and a 145 QB rating. The Sun Devils are picked by some to challenge the USC Trojans for the Pac-10 crown. With Dennis the Menace at the helms, it could be a good bet.
USC. Now before you start jumping up and down saying Mark Sanchez is a first year starter so how can the Trojans be on this list, bear this in mind. While he was back-up, he was 2-1, losing to a Dixon-led Ducks team. With Aaron Corp and Mitch Mustain as back-ups, both of whom can take over the reins in case of injury, SC is loaded at QB. If Sanchez can minimize his Brett Favre-like heroics (after all, he is not Brett Favre) and keep his head on straight under pressure, he could be one of the best quarterbacks USC has ever had..
Michigan State. Here's a team flying low, low, under the radar. The Big Ten has not represented well, and the Spartans have an opportunity to make a jump in the standings with Michigan and Penn State not looking too promising this year. Brian Hoyer has a QB rating of 132, and 59% pass completions. If he can lower his interceptions (pass ratio is 11-20), then the Spartans may be the new darling of the Big Ten.
On the fence:
Texas. Colt McCoy hasn't realized his potential yet. While his pass completion percentage is 65%, his pass ratio of 18-22 is alarming. So far, life after VY has not been rosy. Could it change this year? With the Big 12 looking to be the most competitive conference this year, it's too hard to say. Cross your fingers, Longhorns fans.
Notre Dame. Jimmy Clausen had a bad year. His 6-7 pass ratio was dismal, and his 103.85 QB rating reflects a horrible 2007. However, it's not his fault. He started as a freshman, and his O-line was like a sieve. If the Irish can shore up their pass rushing, then Clausen could have a fine year. Their first game is against San Diego State- perfect for a young quarterback to get his confidence up. If he doesn't have a 200 yard game, then we will know the hype was just that- hype.
Georgia. Everyone has the Dawgs picked to be in the Championship game, but it's not due to their quarterback, Matt Stafford. Can we be honest? He's average. His stats: 55% completion rate, 129 QB rating and a 10-19 pass ratio. Does that matter? No. The Dawgs are probably the best team in college football, judging by how they ended their season. But Stafford needs to improve a lot if he wants to keep the D from focusing entirely on Knowshon Moreno. Then again, maybe he won't have to?
Nebraska. Sam Keller was the great white hope for 2007. This year it's Joe Ganz. After six games, he has a great QB rating of 163.4, a 7-16 pass ratio, and 58% pass completions. Ganz should do well, especially with Marlon Lucky taking some of the pressure off of Ganz by running wild in the secondary. New coach Bo Pelini will make headway into the Cornhuskers' hearts, but Ganz needs some more experience; playing in the brutal Big 12 this year could bring him back to earth.
South Carolina. Chris Smelley had a very inconsistent year last year, as evidenced by his 7-9 ratio, 57% completions and 127 QB rating. The hope was that Stephen Garcia would lead the Gamecocks to the promised land, but Garcia is no longer a guarantee anymore. Someone needs to step up during the Summer, or Spurrier's visor will be turf-laden by mid-season.
UCLA. The Bruins have had horrible luck with their big two getting hurt. Cowan had a season-ender leg injury in Spring practice, and Big Ben is currently hurt. The depth is there, but all of the back-ups have little experience and are young. Couple in a young and inexperienced O-line, and the Bruins will struggle to keep any quarterback injury-free this year.
LSU. With the heir-apparent now at a 2A school, LSU faces a tough challenge. Andrew Hatch, Jarrett Lee, T.C. McCartney....who are these guys? OK....this is LSU, the defending champs, so there will be talent in the position, but all the chips were on Perrilloux. All of them.
Michigan. Chad Henne is gone, and Ryan Mallett transferred to Arkansas. Now what? Rich Rodriguez has some tough shoes to fill with his new no-huddle spread. The quarterback issue could be addressed if RR uses the run-oriented spread, but a lack of leadership at the helm of a ship with a new engine doesn't look promising.
Penn State. This should be interesting. If anyone can solve the woes at State, it's Joe Pa, but not this year. Pat Devlin looks like the early fave, but one can't help but think that the Nits threw all of their eggs in Terrelle Pryor's basket and they lost out. Their previous QB, Anthony Morelli, was inconsistent and the cause for a lot of Nits fans' headaches. And he was the best they had.
Florida State. Sorry Noles fans, but Weatherford hasn't lived up to the expectations. His QB rating is 118.5, and he has 56% pass completions. About as average as you can get, but he fits in with the rest of the under-achieving Seminoles. It's going to be very quiet in Tomahawk land.
Wisconsin. As much as we all think the Badgers will be ready to go, their QB situation is downright scary. They have Allan Evridge and Dustin Sherer on their depth charts, and three freshman not even listed. Evridge has attempted twelve passes total, and the results were horrific: 41.7% completions. Sherer has no stats. Scary situation for a team that is considered a contender in the Big Ten.
Less than ninety days until the first football game. Going crazy yet?
*pass ratio is interceptions to touchdowns.