College Football: Quarterbacks That Teams Can't Afford to Lose

InTheBleachers.netSenior Analyst IJune 9, 2008

Like it or not, some teams’ records ride entirely on the shoulders of the man under center.  If he gets hurt or has a bad year, that team could go from having 10 or 11 wins to only seven or eight wins.

Looking through college football, I found at least five quarterbacks who have to stay healthy all year if their teams want a chance at success this season.

Question: how do you find a replacement for someone who threw for 3,200 yards and 32 touchdowns, while running for 895 yards and 23 touchdowns?  The answer—you don’t.

With an improved defense, the Gators have all eyes set on the SEC Championship and another BCS Championship.  The one person that could derail all of those plans is 2007 Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow.

With the type of offense that Urban Meyer runs, Tebow takes a lot of hits.  Luckily last season, when Tebow broke his non-throwing hand, the Gators had a few weeks off before their bowl game.

I suspect this year Meyer might not be as liberal with Tebow late in games with the lead.  As Gator fans know, Tebow is the horse that will pull Florida's buggy this season.

Along the same lines as Tebow, this player led his team in both rushing and passing in 2007.  Pat White threw for 1,700 yards and 14 touchdowns while running for another 1,300 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Under new head coach Bill Stewart, the Mountaineers can expect to run the same type of offense as in years past with the coach whose name I will not mention.  West Virgina did lose Steve Slaton to the NFL draft, but expect Noel Devine to pick up on his missing productivity.

If you take a look at the two losses West Virginia had last season, against South Florida and Pittsburgh, there is one thing that stands out in each of those losses—the Mountaineers lost Pat White for the majority of the game due to injury.  In those two games they scored a combined 22 points.

Needless to say, Patrick White must stay healthy this season if West Virginia wants to go BCS bowling and possibly play for the BCS Championship.

A final dual threat quarterback that has to stay healthy this season is Central Michigan’s Dan LeFevour.  The Chippewas were the 2007 MAC Champions due mainly to the play of LeFevour.  In 2007, like Pat White, he was the leading passer and rusher for the team, throwing for 3,600 yards and 27 touchdowns while rushing for 1,100 yards and 19 touchdowns.

The Chippewas have three decent BCS teams on their schedule—at Georgia, at Purdue, and at Indiana.  If LeFevour can put a good showing up against those teams, he will get serious mainstream media attention.

Regardless, with LeFevour in the lineup, one would expect that CMU is one of the favorites to win the MAC this year and head back to the Motor City Bowl.  Without him and his offensive production, Central Michigan will be lucky to get the six wins needed to become bowl eligible.

Moving toward more traditional drop back quarterbacks, we have Texas Tech’s record-setting passer Graham Harrell.  Harrell’s passing numbers last season are mind-boggling—he threw for 5,700 yards, 48 touchdowns, and a 71% completion percentage.  It helps to have a great go-to receiver like Michael Crabtree, who caught 134 balls for almost 2,000 yards.

It isn’t a secret that the Red Raiders are going to air the ball out when you play them.  Sometimes Harrell will put the ball in the air upwards of 70 times in a game.  They use the short passes to supplement their lackluster running game.

This will be Graham’s third year as a starter for Texas Tech, and it's hard to believe that his backup could put up numbers half as good. The Red Raiders are on a lot of lists to be a surprise team this year, and the only way they will do that is if Harrell stays healthy all season.

One of the surprise teams of 2007 was the Arizona State Sun Devils.  It was a big joke around the college football world when former coach Dirk Koetter listened to his players and named Rudy Carpenter the quarterback in 2006.  Koetter got fired after the season, but Carpenter continued to shine.  In 2007, Rudy threw for 3,200 yards and 25 touchdowns for an Arizona State team that went 10-3.

Carpenter is back for his senior season and the Sun Devils are hoping not to repeat the end of the 2007 season, when they lost three of their last five games. One can’t really blame Carpenter because he played well in all of those games.

He brings three years of starting experience to the table for Arizona State, and with a schedule that has Georgia coming to town and road games at USC and California, Carpenter has to stay healthy for the Sun Devils to come close to repeating what they did last season.