Pac-12 home to plenty of QB talent

first_imgEach week, ESPN’s Pac-12 college football blog ranks the conference’s top-five quarterbacks. Though the list is an attempt to showcase notable performances more than anything else, this Tuesday’s rankings — which put USC redshirt junior Cody Kessler in the fifth slot — got me thinking.If you had to start a college football team, which Pac-12 quarterback would you pick up first? This isn’t a fantasy draft — sorry Connor Halliday — but an honest attempt to figure out the best man for the job. In a conference laden with talent at the position, this isn’t an easy task. So to all you die-hard Kevin Hogan supporters out there, my email address is in the attribution. Anyway, here’s my Pac-12 top-12.The cream of the crop1. Marcus Mariota (Oregon)2. Brett Hundley (UCLA)3. Cody Kessler (USC)I know, I know. One of these guys is not like the others. But let’s take a blind look at some stats. Player one has completed 72 percent of his passes for 1107 yards, 10 touchdowns and no interceptions. Player two: 74 percent, 1135 yards, 13 touchdowns, no picks. Player three: 72 percent, 1041 yards, seven scores, one pick. These are all solid, comparable numbers, right? So before you knock Cody Kessler -— he’s player one, by the way — for being nothing more than “efficient,” you might want to attribute that label to Mariota (player two) and Hundley (player three) as well.Yes, in the past Mariota and Hundley have been far better with their legs than Kessler will ever be. This season, however, that hasn’t necessarily been the case. Mariota is averaging just over 50 yards on the ground per game, while Hundley, in one less game, is averaging just under 50. Though these numbers are far better than Kessler’s, they aren’t staggering enough to knock him down a peg.Let’s remember, two of these guys were considered preseason Heisman candidates, and Mariota is probably still the frontrunner for the award. This has to be frustrating for USC fans, who have watched Kessler develop into a picture of consistency while playing for a team that is anything but.As to why Mariota takes the top spot? A 94.4 Adjusted Total Quarterback Rating says just about everything I could (that score is out of 100, by the way).The stat-sheet Stars4. Jared Goff (Cal)5. Taylor Kelly (Arizona St.)6. Sean Mannion (Oregon St.)7. Connor Halliday (Washington St.)Cal’s Goff was ESPN’s top choice this week, and for good reason: the sophomore put up a ridiculous 458 yards and seven touchdowns in a thrilling win over Colorado last Saturday. Though he -— along with Halliday and, to a lesser degree, Kelly — benefit from offensive systems that throw the ball about 300 times a game, Goff gets the nod among this group for consistently putting up crazy numbers on a team that lacks, uh, a lot. Couple his youth with an arm reminiscent of a former Bears gunslinger that now wears green and gold, and Goff seems like a better version of Kelly and Halliday.The 6-foot-5 Mannion is the most prototypical NFL prospect in the conference, but has not carried over his impressive 2013 output into this season. The Beavers offense looked sluggish against USC, and Mannion seemed content to check the ball down or throw it away when he couldn’t find an open target. As much as those conservative sensibilities will help him at the next level, he can’t measure up to the playmaking abilities of Mariota or Hundley.The enigmas8. Kevin Hogan (Stanford)9. Sefo Liufau (Colorado)10. Travis Wilson (Utah)What can you really say about these guys? Hogan has two Pac-12 championships on his resume, but has thrown for over 300 yards in a game just once in nearly two full seasons as a starter. As solid as he looked earlier this season against the Trojans, no one would argue that Hogan was the MVP of either of the last two Stanford teams.Liufau took over Colorado’s starting job with seven games remaining last season, and proceeded to throw eight interceptions. Though he has shown promise in 2014 — the Buffaloes were on the losing end of a score-for-score shootout with Goff and the Bears on Saturday — Liufau’s team has yet to win back-to-back games with him at the helm.Wilson, on the other hand, is just a plain old good story. A concussion nearly ended his promising career midway through last season, and the junior was only cleared to play this season after passing multiple extensive tests. Unfortunately, Wilson hasn’t quite performed up to his usual standards this season, and didn’t manage a touchdown pass in the Utes’ one-point loss to Washington State on Saturday.The new guys11. Anu Solomon (Arizona)12. Cyler Miles (Washington)Though there isn’t much to say about Miles just yet, Solomon has been quietly making a name for himself in the desert. I mean, It’s fitting that the second-to-last last quarterback on my list already has a 47-yard game-winning Hail Mary to his name. Solomon, just a redshirt freshman, found wideout Austin Hill with a remarkable pass on the last play of the Wildcats’ wild come-from-behind win over Cal a few weeks ago. Suffice it to say, if you start at quarterback in this conference, you’re probably pretty damn good. Will Hanley is a junior majoring in political science and communication. He is also the sports editor of the Daily Trojan. His column, “Sports Willustrated,” runs Thursdays. To comment on this story, visit or email Will at [email protected]last_img

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