Earlier today, we started our trek on the long and winding road to the college football season by rolling out the first of our weekly roundtables. This afternoon, we are back with another installment as TSS Associate Editors Bart Doan and Terry Johnson join Kevin Causey and a rotating special guest in our weekly roundtables discussing all things college football.
This morning we asked which college football quarterback you would pick to lead your team and be the face of your franchise. This afternoon, we ask the same question but exclude all of the quarterbacks in the Power 5 conferences as we are joined by Tyler Waddell of AAC Football Fever.
Question: You are the head coach of a prestigious University, which non-Power 5 QB would you pick to run your team?
On Twitter @Tyler_Waddell
Hey, unless I’m Urban Meyer and can choose between three Heisman-worthy starting quarterbacks, I’d take a flyer on Cincinnati’s Gunner Kiel – no matter which program I’m coaching.
Maybe Kiel didn’t come in and blow the entire college football world away (as some actually expected him to do, thanks to his five-star rating and prolonged recruiting process), but he did incredible things at times that made you sit back and wonder how he ended up in the American Athletic Conference.
When healthy, Kiel was the best quarterback that the AAC could provide – and that includes Shane Carden, Paxton Lynch, and Greg Ward, Jr. He finished with 3,254 passing yards and 31 touchdowns during an injury-plagued rookie campaign, placing 21st among all FBS quarterbacks in yards per attempt (8.4). But it was the rib injury he sustained in the first half of the Memphis game that would end up defining what would likely have been a record-breaking season.
Through the first three-and-a-half games, Kiel had completed 61 percent of his passes for 1,257 yards, 15 touchdowns and three interceptions – including a 50-28 loss to Ohio State in Columbus. From that point on, he was taken in and out of games battling the deep bruise in his ribs, as he struggled to throw the ball accurately under pressure. His touchdown-to-interception ratio also took a hit, as he posted a 16-10 mark during the Bearcats’ final nine games. It also didn’t help that his defense allowed 30 points or more seven different times.
I’d take the risk and choose a healthy Gunner Kiel, which we will see in 2015. He has all the intangibles that every coach wants in a quarterback: prototypical size (6-foot-4, 210), a quick release, enough athleticism to make him a threat out of the pocket, great short- and mid-range accuracy, and an incredible deep ball (seriously, he has to be one of the best in college football). He’s the kind of guy that I want running my pro-style offense – one that I wouldn’t mind taking plenty of risks due to his pure, raw ability.
Besides, wouldn’t you want the potential No. 1 quarterback for the 2017 NFL Draft on your team?
On Twitter @TheCoachBart
Hopefully the return of this Chuckie goes better than the colossal flopping the last famous Chucky went out with, of late 1980s – early 90s horror movie fame. Since that series, everyone named Chuckie (regardless of spelling) has been subjected surely to countless quips about how their name relates to a stupid fantasy character, but it would have been more tolerable had it just been left for dead after the first three movies and the world not been subjected to Bride of Chucky and Seed of Chucky and after that we just wanted to put Chucky in a blender.
At any rate, Chuckie Keeton (of Utah State) is back to finish a really brilliant on-field career if only he could stay healthy. Keeton, a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender should he stay upright, has seen the last two seasons robbed from him due to injury. He was granted a fifth year recently.
Keeton is an electric if not completely unlucky talent. Last we really saw full Keeton was in 2013, where he amassed 18 touchdowns to 2 interceptions before missing 8 games with a brutal ACL and MCL tear. Last year, he missed 11 banging up the same knee.
Obviously the hard part is the mental aspect of his return. I’m sure his arm is still live and his head can still pick apart the game. But the second the pocket collapses, the second has has to make a play with his feet and there’s a linebacker diving at his knees, the moment he needs to dive into traffic on a fourth and one, that’s where you’ll find out how far he can go.
The body often heals quicker than the mind. But there’s absolutely zero denying the talent when he’s healthy. Hopefully, this version of Chuckie ends up better than the movie series. It’s a low bar to cross, to be honest.
On Twitter @CFBZ
My first inclination when looking at this question would be to look at two guys who have dual threat and leadership ability and that’s BYU’s Taysom Hill and Navy’s Keenan Reynolds. With Hill coming off an injury, I’m apprehensive and with Reynolds I have to have a quarterback who can throw it around the yard a bit more.
I’m looking for a guy who can throw the ball at a high percentage, values the football and isn’t going to break when he’s under pressure. I’m grabbing the Walter Payton Award winner for 2014, Villanova’s John Robertson. Despite breaking his non-throwing hand last year mid-way through the season, he was still able to lead his team to a 10-2 regular season with the losses being by a combined two points. In 2014, Robertson had a TD:INT ratio of 35:3 (!) and completed 65% of his passes despite the injury. Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that Robertson is also a dual threat? He eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark for Nova in 2014 on the ground and added 11 rushing TDs. Robertson gives me the dual threat ability that I want and the leadership ability that I need.
On Twitter @SectionTPJ
If forced to choose a player from outside of the Power 5 conferences, I’d select Vad Lee of James Madison to be my starting quarterback.
This selection will undoubtedly raise a few eyebrows. In fact, I can already hear my friends over at All Sports Discussion saying, “Surely, you can’t be serious!”
I am serious – and don’t call me Shirley.
All kidding aside, there’s a reason why I’d want Lee as my signal caller: versatility. There’s simply nothing that he cannot do.
He certainly made an impact at Georgia Tech right away. In his first extensive action for the Yellow Jackets, Lee threw for 169 yards on just six completions and added 112 yards on the ground, turning an early 14-7 deficit into a 68-50 victory over North Carolina. He took over as the starter the following season, finishing third on the team in rushing, while throwing for 1,561 yards (8.7 per attempt).
However, Lee proved last season that he’s more than just an option quarterback. At the controls of James Madison’s high-octane attack, Lee threw for 3,462 yards with a stellar 30/7 TD-to-INT ratio. His rushing numbers also went up in the new system, as he ran for 826 yards on 183 carries. That total was 313 yards more than he ran for during his final season at Georgia Tech (513) on just one extra carry.
More importantly, Lee’s presence in the lineup helped the Dukes qualify for the FCS playoffs after finishing 6-6 the year before.
Adding all of these things together, it’s easy to see why Lee would be the perfect candidate to lead a team. Whether it’s running the option, airing it out, or some combination of the two, Lee can do whatever takes in order to make the attack successful.