Which teams have the best QB groups heading into 2015?

It’s Wednesday and that means it’s time to reconvene our college football roundtable for more discussion of the sport that we love. TSS Associate Editors Bart Doan and Terry Johnson join Kevin Causey and a rotating guest in our weekly roundtables discussing all things college football.

Last week we discussed the coaches you would turn to in a must win situation and which coach you would want to build your program from scratch. Coming off of an 8-5 season, Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly voiced a vote of confidence in his quarterbacks, which leads us to our question which focuses on the quarterback position. Joining us this week is Matthew from the ACC-centric All Sports Discussion and The ACC Weekly Podcast.

Question: Brian Kelly said he would take his QBs over Ohio State’s. Realistically, which group of QBs would you take if you could take any in the Nation except Ohio State’s?


On Twitter @HokiesSmash:

How about we make that visit to Southern California and the Men of Troy? Yes, I am visiting USC to find my group of QBs, including Cody Kessler, Max Browne, and Ricky Town. According to Bovada, Cody Kessler’s odds of winning the Heisman Trophy next season are 12-1 – and Kessler (coming in at 6’1” and 210lbs) is almost certainly going to be an All-American. We’re talking about someone here who has completed 553-of-815 passes (67.9%) for 6,803 yards with 59 TDs and just twelve interceptions in his career (yes, you heard that right, twelve interceptions in three years). In 2014, Kessler set USC season records for completions (315), completion percentage (69.7), passing efficiency (167.1) and interception rate (1.11) and tied USC season marks for TD passes (39) and 300-yard passing games (7). Did I mention this guy has only thrown twelve interceptions in three years? TWELVE (!!!).

We come in behind Cody Kessler – to find Max Browne – your prototypical physical pro-style QB – coming in at 6’5” 220 lbs (we’re homers for players with the big physiques). Browne, a Sammamish, WA resident and Skyline High School graduate, came to the USC Trojans as a @247Sports five-star QB (these are the kinds of players, by the way, that the University of Washington has to keep at home – I’ll be interested in future years if Chris Petersen can keep any of them). While Browne has seen limited action (he is a third year sophomore), he has the talent and pedigree that is synonymous with USC QBs of the past who have gone on to the NFL.  I can’t think this will be any different.

Finally, USC has a @247Sports four-star QB early enrollee in Ricky Town.

Life has to be really good if you are Steve Sarkisian, right?

Bart Doan:

On Twitter @TheCoachBart

I guess I’ll be the guy that thinks Brian Kelly made a lot of sense. You always go with your guys, and if you don’t have that ultimate faith in them, how are they to have it in you? I believe Kelly when he said what he said, and I think he was absofreakinglutely right to say it. How would Kelly want his players to respond when asked about who they’d most like to have as a coach? Think of it that way. Or when your girlfriend asks you if she looks prettier than (insert obviously super cute bartender serving you both). There’s only one answer, folks.

All that said, you can’t go wrong with Kelly’s tandem of Malik Zaire and Everett Golson. You could probably make a decent case for Southern Cal’s group of highly recruited studs led by senior Cody Kessler and then the allegedly much-improved Max Browne, but at this point I’ve got to take a guy who’s been under center for an unbeaten regular season (I swear, if I get one “he shared time with Tommy Rees and that’s why ND was so good e-mail …”) and Zaire has been good enough to push him for the starting job says a lot.

Zaire in his own right looked pretty darn swell to close the season in a win against LSU and looked slightly better than Golson in their annual spring game, at least statistically. But all of that can be misleading. Spring game stats are the singing in the shower of sports. Not a wild indicator of how talented someone is but you’ll find plenty of folks who act like it is.

Golson has a rocket for an arm. Zaire seems to be on par with being able to make all of the same throws. Kelly joked after the game that maybe they’ll just play two quarterbacks and let people worry about game planning for it. Well, that’s a luxury very few have.

Kevin Causey:

On Twitter @CFBZ

From a pure talent standpoint I think Alabama and Georgia should be in the discussion for this one. I know, I know. Sounds crazy, right?

Let’s take a look at what Alabama has: Blake Barnett is an early enrollee who was rated as the No. 2 QB in the Nation in his class and is a 5-star prospect. David Cornwell from the 2014 class is a 4-star prospect and was rated as the No. 3 Pro Style QB in his class. Cooper Bateman from the 2013 class is a 4-star prospect who was rated as the No. 4 Pro Style QB in his class. And finally, Jacob Coker is a former three-star prospect from the Florida State class of 2011 (the year before Jameis signed). Not a bad group, huh? Oh yeah, what if Braxton Miller (as recently rumored) were to transfer to Alabama. Would that make them No. 1 with a bullet?

Ok, so what about Georgia? Even though they don’t even have a starter, they feel so strongly that they didn’t even sign a QB in this years class although that could be because they have the verbal commitment from Jacob Eason, the No. 1 guy in the class of 2016. As far as guys that are actually on the roster…Jacob Park is a four-star prospect from the 2014 class that ranked as the No. 5 Pro Style QB in his class. From the class of 2013, Georgia signed four-star prospect Brice Ramsey who was the No. 3 ranked Pro Style QB. From the 2012 class, Georgia has three-star prospect Faton Bauta who ranked as the No. 7 Dual Threat QB.

As you can see, even though they don’t even have starters…Alabama and Georgia are loaded and as Ohio State proved last year…all some guys need is a chance.

Even though I’ve just lauded the QB corps at Alabama and Georgia, they aren’t my choice but it just goes to show (as Ohio State did last year) that if guys are given a shot…there are many teams in the country that could be at the top of this list.

I’m going to cheat a little here and go with a team that has a heavily “rumored” transfer about to join their ranks and one of the best QBs in the game…TCU.

Trevone Boykin is a legit Heisman candidate if not one of the out-right front-runners. He threw for 3900 yards last year and 33 TD and added over 700 yards of rushing and 9 rushing TDs. He’s a stud.

In addition to Boykin, they have two three-star red-shirt freshmen in Grayson Muehlstein and Foster Sawyer, a three-star sophomore in Zach Allen and a former three-star veteran in Bram Kohlhausen who is a former Houston Cougar.

Not a bad group but what puts it over the top is if they get Kenny Hill from Texas A&M. Hill showed a ton of promise with the Aggies last year before he fell out of favor. He completed over 66% of his passes and had 23 TD to 8 INT. He would be an ideal replacement next season for Boykin and without question would give TCU one of the best QB corps in the Nation.

Terry Johnson:

On Twitter @SectionTPJ

Before I answer this question, I’d like to point out that this story is like an episode of Seinfeld. It’s a show about nothing, yet people are still talking about it.

Let’s be honest: everyone – including the “pundits” over at the four-letter network should have expected Kelly to publicly express confidence in his top two quarterbacks. Even if both had struggled this spring – which is clearly not the case – there’s no way that any college coach would go on a Jim Mora (Senior) type of rant about how bad the situation is. Doing would set the wrong tone for summer workouts and fall camp.

Despite the obviousness of the situation, this story is still one of the most popular topics in college football right now.

So, is Kelly right?

No. In fact, his group of quarterbacks wouldn’t be the deepest in the ACC this year.

That honor belongs to the Louisville Cardinals, who have four battle-tested signal callers vying for the starting job.

Make no mistake about it: Bobby Petrino has a wealth of talent under center this year. Will Gardner won the starting job last fall and turned in a solid season with 1,669 yards passing and a very respectable 12/3 TD-to-INT ratio. When Gardner was injured, Reggie Bonnafon stepped in and got the job done, throwing for 864 yards and sparking the team to a win over Notre Dame. Similarly, third-string QB Kyle Bolin turned in a Cardale Jones-like performance over the final two games, throwing for 381 yards in three quarters in a 44-40 win over Kentucky, while adding 300 more against Georgia in the bowl game.

In addition, former Penn State QB Tyler Ferguson (7-for-11, 125 yards vs Ohio State in 2013) will be a factor in the race after sitting out last season as a transfer.

With four players that have shown flashes of brilliance when their number was called, the Cardinal quarterback situation is as good as any other in the country. Considering that they’ll play under the leadership of Bobby Petrino – one of the best in the business when it comes to developing signal callers – this group will only get better as the season progresses.

It’s a shame that Louisville doesn’t play Notre Dame this season, so we could see this issue settled on the gridiron… where it belongs.


Previous Roundtables

Which returning starter at QB will show the most improvement in 2015?

Which first year starter at QB is poised to have a breakout season?

Which non-Power 5 QB do you want as the face of your franchise?

Which Power 5 quarterback do you want as the face of your franchise?

If you could have attended any game in the history of college football what would it be?

Reliving our favorite college football memories

Who was the greatest team in the history of college football?

Who was the most underrated team in college football history?

What’s the most intriguing spring practice storyline?

What changes should be made to spring football?

In a one-game scenario, which college football coach would you turn to for a win?

Which coach would you turn to if building a program from scratch?