The Mountain West is up this week in The Comeback’s 2017 college football preview coverage. For our position previews, I’ll take a look at the league’s signal callers, and tell you what to expect in 2017.
Q. Who are the top returning quarterbacks in the Mountain West Conference?
3. Kent Myers, Utah State – When he’s completely healthy, he’s as good as any quarterback in college football. In three years at Utah State, he’s connected on 60.5% of his throws for 4,853 yards and 31 touchdowns, which is pretty impressive considering that he plays in a run-first offense. Myers also fared well in his lone outing against a ranked opponent, completing 25 of 37 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown versus USC last season. Look for him to post even bigger numbers in new offensive coordinator David Yost’s scheme this fall.
2. Josh Allen, Wyoming – Exactly how good is Allen? One NFL scout said that Allen was better than first-round pick Patrick Mahomes. While reasonable minds can agree or disagree with that statement, the fact of the matter is that he is one of the best quarterbacks in college football. Although he did struggle at times with turnovers (15 INT), Allen did finish in the top 20 in both touchdowns (20th) and yards per attempt (13th). He was also impressive when the Cowboys fell behind by more than a touchdown, completing 37 of 53 passes (69.8%) for 614 yards and eight touchdowns in those situations. As great as these numbers are, he could be even better in his second year as a starter.
1. Brett Rypien – If Allen might be a first-round NFL draft pick, why is Rypien in the top spot? For starters, he’s a two-time All-Mountain West selection at quarterback, which means that the league’s coaches feel that he’s the best in the league. Even if Rypien hadn’t earned these postseason honors, I would have picked him because he’s posted better numbers than Allen (or anyone else in the league).
In two years at Boise, he’s completed 62.7% of his passes for 6,996 yards with a solid 44/16 TD-to-INT ratio. He also had some huge games against top competition last year, including a 442-yard effort against BYU, a 305-yard performance against Baylor, and a 299-yard outing against Washington State. By posting numbers like that against bowl teams, he’ll definitely get the opportunity to play at the next level.
Q. Which quarterback will have a breakout season?
Without question, it’ll be Christian Chapman of San Diego State. He hasn’t been asked to do much over the past two seasons because no one could stop running back Donnel Pumphrey. Now that Pumphrey is a member of the Philadelphia Eagles, the offense will need for Chapman to throw more often. He proved to be a more-than-capable passer in 2016, connecting on 61% of his throws with a respectable 20/6 TD-to-INT ratio. With more opportunities to throw, he will easily eclipse last season’s numbers.
Q. Which newcomer should we keep an eye on this fall?
The newcomer I’m keeping an eye on is San Jose State redshirt freshman Montel Aaron. Yes, he still has to beat out Josh Love for the starting job, but I think he’ll eventually do that. He had an outstanding spring and made some great plays in the spring game, including a 95-yard TD pass to Bailey Gaither. Considering that he also ran the ball four times for 30 yards in the spring game, I feel like he’s the perfect fit to run Brent Brennan’s up-tempo offense.
Q. What is the most intriguing quarterback situation in the Mountain West Conference?
While there are some spirited competitions this fall, the most intriguing quarterback situation is at UNLV. Thanks to injuries and inconsistent play, the Rebels started three different players under center last season. The quarterback that won the job at start of the season (Johnny Stanton) is back, as is the quarterback that held the job at the end of the season (Kurt Palandech).
However, redshirt freshman Armani Rogers had a huge spring, and is listed as the starter going into fall camp. It’ll be interesting to see if he tightens his grip on the starting job or whether one of the two veterans makes a last minute push to make things interesting.