A special thanks to Adam Nettina for keeping this blog afloat for the past few weeks. Even though he has a strange infatuation with Phil Steele, he does great work and is a big asset to In The Bleachers. You will see Adam hopefully throughout the offseason and into next season. I apologize for my lack of writing, the NHL Playoffs have been keeping my mind off of college football, but I am re-energized and ready to start talking more about the 2008 season.
My favorite position to analyze is the quarterback, they are the ones that are either the heroes or the goats of the game. If a quarterback is lucky enough to start as a sophomore or freshman, they are given a little more leeway since they are younger and are more prone to mistakes. But what makes them an elite quarterback is their ability to take the "next step" to that higher level. I have identified 7 quarterbacks that have the talent, started early, and now it is time for them to take the next step.
|Deacon Fans have high
hopes for Skinner
In 2006, the Wake Forest Demon Deacons were the feel good cinderella story of the year and one of the big reasons why was the play of their freshman quarterback Riley Skinner
. Skinner had a good year as freshman quarterback throwing for over 2000 yards with 9 touchdowns and only 5 interceptions. In his second year his passing yards went up a little, as did his completion percentage, but his interceptions went up to 13
, and he missed two games in the 2007 season. He did have 12 touchdown passes, but you always want your QB to have more passing touchdowns than interceptions. For Skinner to make that next step, he has to improve on those interception numbers and not turn the ball over as much.
The next person on my list, might be a bit of a surprise, but if you look at his play from one season to the next you will understand why he is on it. Colt McCoy
had a stellar freshman season with the Longhorns, which landed him on many lists for Heisman hopefuls in early 2007. But McCoy's play early on in 2007 was very much less than stellar. In his first 5 games against less than average opponents, McCoy threw 8 touchdown passes and 9 interceptions
. He ended the season with 22 and 18, and with a lower completion percentage than the year before. With the losses in the skill positions on offense, the pressure is going to be even greater on McCoy to protect the ball and produce points. So we should find out early if Texas will get back the McCoy of his freshman year or not.
has been a big pain in the neck to Big East coaches his first two years at South Florida. Each of his first two seasons he has hovered around the 1 to 1 touchdown to interception ratio, which as I stated earlier must improve for him to become elite, but also Grothe disappeared down the stretch
for the Bulls in the later half of 2007. Teams have focused on him and now it is up to the Bulls coaching staff to become creative and find ways for Grothe to exploit opposing defenses. USF has the chance to vault to the top of the Big East, but the Bulls will only go as far as the arm, and legs of Matt Grothe take them.
|Ty's job is riding on
Some call him the savior, some call him the second coming of Ron Paulus, but any way you put it Notre Dame is excited to have Jimmy Clausen
under center. I will be honest here, I was not a big Clausen fan, but he did well in his first season under center considering the fact that Notre Dame had no rushing game and their offensive line had more holes in it than a cheese grater. But as we all know, Domer fans are not patient, they want results now. Hopes are high for Clausen after his
performance (10-of-27 passing for 183 yards) in the Irish's spring game
. Clausen has a strong arm and the toughness to be a good quarterback, but whether he takes that step up this year or next is another question. If the Irish are going to go bowling this year, it will be because of this man.
At 6 foot 3 inches and 225 lbs, Jake Locker
has a big frame which he needs to play quarterback the way he does. In his first season as Huskies quarterback, Locker threw for over 2000 yards and ran for over 900 more. The two glaring bad points with him are that his completion percentage was below 50% and he threw one more interception than touchdown. Not bad at all for a freshman, so why is he on this list? Well his coach Tyrone Willingham, the guy who recruited Locker, is running on borrowed time. He needs to win now to keep his job for another season, and for that to happen Locker has to improve his offensive output, and decrease his turnovers. That is not going to be an easy task playing in the Pac 10 where the Huskies won 2 games last year, and 4 overall.
I save the best for last, well the quarterback with the best name. John Parker Wilson
will be a three year starter when the 2008 season begins for the Crimson Tide. It will be his second year under Nick Saban. Unfortunately for him, he will no longer have his favorite target DJ Hall to throw to, but with the way the Tide have been recruiting, there will be some young freshman ready to step in. The main problem with Parker Wilson is his consistency. He will go stretches of games where he is just plain lack luster, even against team where he should be padding his stats. The past two years Alabama snuck into bowl games with a 6-6 record, and I don't think Tide fans would be happy if they had anything less than 9 wins this year. Parker Wilson is a senior now, the leader of the team. He needs to completed over 60% of his passes and keep his interceptions below the double digit mark. If he does that, you will see the Tide challenging for the top of the SEC West, if not, no New Years Day bowl for Alabama.