College Football Rankings 2011: Ranking the Mountain West Conference QB's
With the start of fall camp underway, I’ve decided to get into the mood by ranking the starting quarterbacks across the Mountain West Conference as I see them heading into the 2011 college football season.
While some quarterbacks are obvious locks, some unproven players could easily work their way up the list as the season goes on; it’s just hard for true freshmen to come in and make an impact every year.
If you disagree with any of the rankings, feel free to comment and list your order below.
This post was originally published at MattLStephens.com.
1. Kellen Moore, Boise State (Senior)
Easy choice here for the best quarterback in the MWC. Moore will be entering his fourth year as a starter at Boise State and will surely be trying to add a little extra sparkle to his game that will catch the eyes of NFL scouts. But standing only six-feet tall and weighing under 200 pounds won’t help his case to make it to the next level.
Moore has completed at least 64 percent of his passes in the three previous years with an astonishing 71 percent as a junior in 2010. On top of his stellar completion percentage, Moore’s career TD/INT ratio stands at 99:19, with 2009 being the best year at 39:3.
He might be a senior, but with the Broncos being new to the league, why not make Moore the preseason newcomer of the year favorite?
2. Ryan Lindley, San Diego State (Senior)
Another three-year starter, Lindley benefited the past two seasons under coach Brady Hoke’s offense and offensive line, which gave up only nine sacks in all of 2010.
Lindley isn’t quite as accurate as Moore, and benefited greatly from having some of the best wide receivers in the conference like DeMarco Sampson and Vincent Brown who are now playing for the Arizona Cardinals and San Diego Chargers, respectively.
With his top two targets gone, a new head coach who’s more of a defensive mind and a new offensive coordinator (Andy Ludwig) who likes to run more than throw, Lindley might not have the numbers this year fans hope for.
However, assuming SDSU remains balanced both through the air and on the ground, it could help prepare Lindley for the NFL.
3. Tim Jefferson, Air Force (Senior)
Yet another quarterback entering his fourth year as a starter; for the past two offseasons we heard the debate whether Jefferson or Connor Deitz should start under center for Air Force’s option attack.
Well, not this year.
You would be hard-pressed to find a quarterback in the country who runs the triple-option better than Jefferson. He’s the size of a pocket passer at 6'1" and 200 pounds with solid but not blazing speed and has easily the most underrated arm in the MWC.
Jefferson doesn’t get to throw the ball that often (well, unless it’s against Colorado State, then it might as well be an air raid with all of those run blitzes), but when he does, it’s usually with success. Jefferson had easily his best season through the air in 2010, throwing for 1,459 yards, 10 touchdowns and six interceptions.
He was also second on the team in rushing behind Asher Clark with 794 yards and 15 touchdowns.
4. Pete Thomas, Colorado State (Sophomore)
In 2010, Thomas set the NCAA record for the highest completion percentage by a freshman quarterback at 64.7 percent.
Who held the record before Thomas?
A guy by the name of Peyton Manning, who completed 61.8 percent of his passes back in 1994.
While the completion percentage for Thomas was padded by the fact that CSU ran a lot of short routes, that’s not a bad record to have.
Thomas has now completed his second set of spring drills with the Rams, and with a full season of starting experience under his belt, there’s a lot to look forward to for the next three seasons.
Now it’s just a matter of making the smarter throws to cut down on some very bad interceptions.
5. Tarean Austin/B.R. Holbrook, New Mexico (Sophomore/Junior)
As much as I like to rip New Mexico—mainly Mike Locksley’s fists of fury—I do think its quarterbacks have a big upside if the Lobos' offensive line could block a little better.
Austin and Holbrook were sacked a combined 13 times in 2010 while the Lobos other two quarterbacks, Brad Gruner and Stump Godfrey, were on their backs 14 for the total 27 sacks allowed. It’s hard to rack up good passing numbers when you’re always running for your life.
Austin and Holbrook will be battling for the starting gig in 2011, and both have significant experience under their belts, though neither has a positive TD/INT ratio.
If one is going to truly prosper, and I think it’s extremely likely, Locksley is going to have to stop running this quarterback platoon system and stick with a guy so he can get some confidence to give New Mexico some much-needed stability under center.
6. Casey Pachall, TCU (Sophomore)
I probably could have put Pachall at No. 5; it’s just a matter of having really no experience at the collegiate level yet, though he was No. 2 on the depth chart as a redshirt freshman behind Andy Dalton a year ago.
Pachall only attempted nine passes in 2010, completing six of them, including a touchdown at UNLV. Mainly used in mop-up duty, Pachall at least has a lot of experience during practice with the offense in Fort Worth.
At 6'5" and 208 pounds, he’s a prototypical guy when it comes to what you want in a quarterback and is a good scrambler.
Pachall was rated as a four-star recruit by Rivals.com and threw for more than 6,000 yards during his three-year high school career.
7. Caleb Herring, UNLV (Sophomore)
I know a starter hasn’t been named by Bobby Hauck yet, but I still think it’s Herring’s to lose. Sean Reilly was a strong candidate to bring in from a quality Saddleback program in California, but I still see him as a backup.
Herring played in a total of eight games in 2010 for the Runnin’ Rebels, completing exactly 50 percent of his passes for 356 yards, four touchdowns and three picks.
Watching him play last year, Reilly reminded me somewhat of Omar Clayton (which isn’t exactly a great omen), except a little quicker.
I feel the job is Herring’s to lose, and he could become the future for UNLV, helping Hauck take his success from FCS to FBS.
8. Adam Pittser/Brett Smith, Wyoming (Freshman/Freshman)
Although Austyn Carta-Samuels might have had a sophomore slump in 2010, there was no denying he was one of the toughest, scrappiest quarterbacks in the MWC the past two seasons.
With him gone, a lot of pressure is put back on that open slot under center for Wyoming.
The two candidates are true freshmen Pittser and Smith, each of whom have similar styles of play as Carta-Samuels.
Both are about the same size (in the 6'2", 200-pound range), had decent mid-major offer lists and should fit Dave Christensen’s system quite well.
Now it’s just a matter of adapting to the college level.
According to the Casper Star-Tribune’s Eric Schmoldt, Christensen said both could see significant playing time once the season starts if neither pulls out in front by the time fall camp is over.
Even as a CSU graduate, I liked watching Carta-Samuels play. It would be nice if Pittser or Smith could bring that same spark in Laramie, Wyo.