I can not stop thinking about the upcoming season for BYU Football! Last week, I ranked the opposing defenses BYU will face, and we discovered just how difficult that first month is going to be. This time, I’m focusing on the quarterback situations of all the teams, with BYU included this week. If you could be so kind to notice, I’m looking at the situation as a whole, not just the talent at quarterback. A talented quarterback who has a new head coach and offensive coordinator might be ranked lower than a similarly (but slightly less) talented one who has the same coaches carried over. I do that because I feel the success will be more easily sustainable. Let’s dive in!
Note: All statistics are strictly from the 2018 season. I feel this will be a better indicator for future success than allowing an underwhelming freshman year or whatever to drag down their numbers.
Number 13 - Idaho State
Once again, the lone FCS team on BYU’s schedule has the weakest position. I’m going to be honest, this is most likely going to become a trend. The Bengals lost their starter from last year, and the only quarterback on their roster with any game experience whatsoever is Gunnar Amos, a senior who appeared in one game last year.
Number 12 - Umass
Looking at the quarterback situation for Umass feels very messy. They had two guys see real minutes for them last year, Andrew Ford and Ross Comis. Comis graduated, and Ford declared for the NFL Draft. The Minutemen have 5 quarterbacks on their current roster, but only one, Michael Curtis, has really played significant minutes and that was in one game two years ago. It’s possible they have hidden talent somewhere in this group, but I highly doubt it.
Number 11 - San Diego State
We finally come to a team with an established starter! Ryan Agnew is a redshirt Senior who started 12 games for the Aztecs last year. He completed 51.6 percent of his passes, with 10 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. But, in an interview with the San Diego Union-Tribune back in January, head coach Rocky Long said “Ryan’s the starter. We’re looking for a graduate transfer that could compete with Ryan to be the starter.” When I read between the lines there, it kinda feels like there isn’t a whole lot of confidence. Hmm.
Number 10 - Liberty
Try not to be surprised when BYU plays Liberty this year. Stephen Calvert is a Senior who started 12 games last year and threw for over 3,000 yards last year and 21 touchdowns. He’s a gunslinger who isn’t afraid to throw it, and that shows most obviously in his 18 interceptions. 18!! That’s the most out of any of the quarterbacks in these rankings.
Number 9 - Boise State
Brett Rypien is gone. If he was still there, the Broncos would have been a few places higher on the list. Now, they’re trying to fill a void at quarterback, and they haven’t really found an answer yet. The leading candidate is Hank Bachmeier, a true freshman out of California. He’s rated highly as a 4-star recruit, and Rivals rated him as the #6 pro-style quarterback in his class. Be on the look out as well for Chase Cord, who tore his ACL in the middle of last year. Even though Boise State has solid coaches, the inexperience and just overall unknown is why they are ranked #9.
Number 8 - Toledo
Mitchell Guadagni will be a Senior in 2019 and returns after starting only 7 games last year due to injury. In those 7 games, he threw 13 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions. His average yards per attempt was 8.8, the highest of any of these quarterbacks. What sets him apart from the others is his running game, where he averaged 5.6 yards per rush, also the highest on this list. Guadagni is a talented quarterback that fits well into Toledo’s system.
Number 7 - Tennessee
Tennessee returns their starting quarterback, Jarrett Guarantano, a redshirt Junior. Over 12 games as the starter, he threw for 1,907 yards and 12 touchdowns. That averages out to 159 yards per game and 1 touchdown. That really isn’t all that great, and it’s because Guarantano really tailed off at the end of the year. Still, I like to look at the teams he was facing. I believe his drop-off has more to say about the defenses in the SEC rather than his talent as a quarterback. He’s best when the Vols are able to play ball control offense. It’s just extremely hard to run the ball in that conference unless you’re Alabama and sometimes Auburn. Jarrett also has coordinator issues as he is about to start his 4th year at Tennessee with his 4th offensive coordinator.
Number 6 - South Florida
USF is a very offense-heavy team. They will go up against anyone in a track meet. To do that, they need to have a reliable quarterback, and they do in Blake Barnett. Barnett began his college career at Alabama, redshirted his freshman year, then played garbage minutes as a redshirt freshman with the Crimson Tide before transferring to Arizona State. He participated in only 2 games at ASU, after which he transferred to USF and absolutely thrived last year. Barnett completed 61.1 percent of his passes, with an average of 7.7 yards per attempt. His issue - this year he will have his fifth (5th!!) offensive coordinator in his college career.
Number 5 - Utah
Utah will have a very talented team this year. However, the quarterback position is usually a question mark for them. Tyler Huntley will be a Senior this year coming off a year cut short by a broken collarbone. In the 9 games he played, Huntley was good with 12 touchdowns to only 6 interceptions. What puts Utah at number 5 is the injury risk Huntley brings with him and the fact that Jason Shelley is a drop-off in production.
Number 4 - USC
There are a few things I like about the quarterback situation at USC. JT Daniels is coming off an impressive freshman year. He threw for 2,672 yards and 14 touchdowns with a 59.5 completion percentage. Don’t forget, he graduated high school early and was the USC starter as an 18 year-old. He was only the second true freshman to start Week 1 for the Trojans. This kid has lots of talent. Another thing I like - his new offensive coordinator Graham Harrell. In the mid-2000’s, Harrell was the quarterback for Mike Leach at Texas Tech and did extremely well at running the air raid offense. If he can bring some of that the USC, JT Daniels can have a big year.
Number 3 - Utah State
I am very high on Utah State this year, and perhaps the biggest reason for that is Jordan Love. The Junior returns after starting all 13 games last year and throwing for over 3,500 yards. He completed 64 percent of his passes, with an average yards per attempt of 8.6. Being that consistent while constantly throwing it downfield is very impressive. Don’t forget about his 32 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions. The one big thing that is holding him at #3 and not higher is the coaching situation for the Aggies. Love lost both his head coach Matt Wells and offensive coordinator David Yost to new jobs at Texas Tech. We’ll see if these new coaches can continue the offensive excellence up in Logan.
Number 2 - BYU
I apologize, my bias might be showing. But, please allow me to defend myself. BYU returns all their coaching staff, most of their offensive line, the most productive receivers from last year, and they have decent, if not solid, running backs. Finally, Zach Wilson is coming back. And for the BYU fans who feel there should be a competition for the starting quarterback spot, just stop it. Have you forgotten the bowl game? Wilson was 18-18 (PERFECT!) for 317 yards with 17.6 average yards per attempt. After his stellar freshman year, Zach is the starter until he actively loses the position, and that doesn’t happen just because of a minor injury. BYU may only see one quarterback better than their own this year.
Number 1 - Washington
Washington is the best team BYU will face this year, full stop. That is also true for their quarterback situation. Jacob Eason first busted on the scene as a freshman at Georgia in 2016, where he only started all 13 games and threw for 2,430 yards. Early in his sophomore year, however, he got injured and lost the spot to Jake Fromm who went on to lead the team to the championship game. Eason then transferred to Washington and sat out last year behind Jake Browning. Eason is a 5-star guy from Lake Stevens, Washington who balled out for UW’s scout team last year. And if he doesn’t work out as planned, they have a red-shirt freshman in Jake Haener who might just win the starting job anyway.
BYU will face off against quarterbacks, from the great to the meh. Most of the great quarterbacks they’ll see in the first 6 weeks of the season. It will be tough to go against all that talent, but if things go the way I expect, BYU will see the 2nd best quarterback of their schedule in practice each week.