Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dubious Rankings of Questionable Validity.....

Well it seems like the expansion brouhaha might actually die down for a bit so we thought we'd engage it the time honored tradition of every football blogger: ranking things. Yes, it's that time, that wonderful moment where we begin to quantify & qualify what we think about teams & players around the college football universe. We'll of course end up by ranking the ACC teams but that's a ways away. After all, we've got to fill 81 days before toe meets leather. So today it's ACC quarterbacks.

A brief note on ACC quarterback play in 2010. First, the position is both very deep & experienced; the league returns eight of twelve starters & another two QB's with more than fleeting game experience (Verica & Robinson). In fact, one might argue that any of five players has a legitimate shot to be the All-ACC QB at the end of 2010: Ponder, Nesbitt, Harris, Wilson, & Taylor. Hell, you could argue that any one of those guys could be a darkhorse Heisman contender. That might be wishful thinking but each has a shot to make a lasting mark on the ACC this season. That's not just depth but quality depth. It's one of the best years I can remember for quarterbacks in the ACC. Here's my ranking of ACC QB's heading into the season:

  1. Christian Ponder (SR), FSU: I'd love to put Nesbitt at the top but Ponder is more deserving & is the better QB. In fact, before injuring himself & missing the last three games of 2009, Ponder was almost single-handedly winning games for a FSU team that played almost no defense. In 9 games last year, Ponder threw for 2717 yds with 14 TD's & 7 interceptions, completing a gaudy 69% of his passes. He also ran for 318 yards & offers that dimension when needed. Simply put, he's the best QB in a very strong year for ACC QB's. While we're not sure about all the Heisman hype, we are glad that the only time we might face him this year is in the ACC Championship game. The fact that Bobby Bowden won't be whistlin' showtunes through the headset during critical offensive possessions may also help......
  2. Josh Nesbitt (SR), Georgia Tech: the returning 1st team All-ACC quarterback who led his team to the ACC Championship & Orange Bowl last year, Nesbitt may be the most important player on any team in the conference as the trigger man for the spread option. Critics of my pick will go on & on about his 48% completion rate last year and blunderbuss of an arm. My response is simple: he plays in a run first system & is THE KEY to the league's highest scoring offense. He ran for over 1000 yards last year (1037) & accounted for 28 touchdowns (18 rushing, 10 passing). And some will argue (Frank is a leading proponent of this school of thought) that all of Nesbitt's pitches should be considered simply short passes. Sure, it's a hometown pick. If you don't like it, take it up with Mr. Nesbitt. Think there's a tougher, more determined player in the ACC?
  3. Tyrod Taylor (SR), Virginia Poly: it seems like yesterday the heir apparent to Michael Vick was just stepping on campus in Blacksburg. Well three years later Taylor has finally developed into an efficient, dual threat quarterback. Taylor had a fine season last year, ranking 13th nationally in QB rating at 149.39, & throwing for 2311 yards & 13 TD's versus 5 interceptions. He also ran for 370 yards. His game saving heave against Nebraska, where he scrambled around to buy time for himself & his receivers, was a thing of beauty. Taylor is a very good QB but the biggest thing holding him (and Virginia Tech as a whole) back is offensive coordinator Bryan Stinespring. With the focus this year on the tremendous backfield due of Ryan Williams & Darren Evans, VT would be wise to take advantage of defenses loading up to stop the run by allowing Taylor more freedom to operate. Taylor has also shown the under-appreciated ability to stay away from pitbulls, McDonald's & under-age women, something other VT QB's from his neck of the woods failed at......
  4. Russell Wilson (JR), North Carolina State: this will make Pack fans howl (drumroll....I'll be here all week) but I can't place Wilson any higher until his team wins more consistently. I realize the problem wasn't really the offense last season and sure the numbers are terrific: 3027 yards with 31 TD's & 11 interceptions in 2009. Can't argue with those numbers other than to point out that they came against some very poor defenses (FSU, Gardner-Webb, Murray St., Maryland). Wilson may top the list by the end of the season but I'd like to see better performances against elite defenses before he moves up.
  5. Jacory Harris (JR), Miami: if this was a fashion show/swagger award Harris would top the list without any competition. Easily the most pimp-tastic of all ACC signal callers. A sartorial wonder, if you will..... But pimpin' ain't easy & neither is playing QB. The arrival of offensive coordinator Mark Whipple saw Harris take a giant lap forward as his vertical passing game suited the tall & lanky QB. Harris completed 59.6% of his passes last year for 3352 yards & 24 TD's (17 INT's), a fine year for a true sophomore. And it's certainly likely that Harris will improve with another year under Whipple. But for Harris to really take a leap forward he's got to improve his mental toughness. First off, anyone that watched a Miami game can easily see the kid doesn't like contact. Of any kind. Pop Harris a couple times & you can see how it effects his game. It was readily visible against both Clemson & Wisconsin in their bowl game last year; Harris became flustered after taking repeated hits. Miami could be very good this year but Harris will have to toughen up for then to be a top 10 team nationally. If you wanna' keep yo' corner, you gotta' stay strong....
  6. Kyle Parker, (JR), Clemson: assuming he sticks around & foregoes baseball for another year, Parker has a chance to grow into an elite ACC QB. Parker's numbers as a sophomore last year (55.6%, 2526, 20-12) are very similar to Christian Ponder's as a sophomore. Good company. Parker possesses all the physical tools but will have to improve his decision making if he's to continue on to be a top-flight ACC QB. And for the record, a QB's performance is certainly helped and or hindered by many factors (offensive line, skill personnel, & play-calling are three crucial factors); Parker will need to overcome challenges in all those areas if he's to improve on last year. The Napier/Swinney offensive brain trust is still a work in progress (estimated completion time, 2098....)
  7. Sean Renfree, (SO), Duke: the former Tech signee has found a comfortable home in Durham under the wing of one of college football's best QB tutors, David Cutcliffe. Renfree missed spring ball as he recovers from a torn ACL but got valuable snaps last season & showed he could handle himself against ACC competition. The fact that Duke returns three very good receivers in Austin Kelly, Connor Vernon, & Donovan Varner should also help Renfree in his transition to starter. Duke will throw the ball & Renfree is smart enough & a good enough athlete to have a career path similar to the recently departed Thaddeus Lewis.
  8. Bryn Renner (r-FR), UNC: so here's my first big departure from the norm: Renner will beat out incumbent TJ Yates & end up starting for Carolina this year. He certainly looked the much better player in their spring game this year. After three mediocre years Butch Davis is pretty sure of what he's got in Yates. My hunch is he goes with Renner, a strong armed youngster with a much higher upside that Yates. There will be growing pains but that terrific defense can mask enough of them until Renner gets comfortable under center. You're wasting Little, Pianalto, Boyd & Highsmith if you play Yates at QB. The strong supporting cast will help ease the transition.
  9. Dave Shinskie (SO), Boston College: ahh yes, the 27 year-old sophomore. Chris Weinke he is not. So Shinskie is back with Marscovetra & Rettig on his heels, pushing for playing time. I expect after his long baseball hiatus that it was quite the adjustment for Shinskie last year. That year of learning should help. But there's not too much upside here. The arm is okay but he's immobile & threw almost as many interceptions (14) as TD's(15). Montel Harris & a very good offensive line will carry the load for the Eagles.
  10. TJ Yates (SR), Carolina: see Bryn Renner above. If Butch Davis & the Heels want to have to kind of year they are capable of they need to keep Captain Checkdown, Master of the Three Yard Dump-Off, one TJ Yates, off the field. Sure he's experienced: at mediocrity. The rest of ACC is hoping to see Yates under center in September. I really hope that's the case on the 18th....
  11. Tajh Boyd (r-FR), Clemson: Boyd will be the man if Parker heads off to join the Rockies. Boyd has a world of talent; good feet & an electric arm being his biggest two assets. What he lacks is what many young QB's do; quality decision making skills & an understanding of the offense he is running. This will come in time but if Clemson has to start him this season there will be some significant growing pains.
  12. Jammarr Robinson (JR), Maryland: well we know he's fast & can run. After that, it's pretty much guesswork. At one point I would have ranked him higher based simply on the Freidgen factor but no longer. It really seems like Ralph could give a shit right now. He's even losing weight. Clearly his priorities right now are all messed up. So Robinson hangs out at the bottom until we see what he brings to the party (Russian hookers are always a good choice & would vault his ranking up significantly).
  13. Skylar Jones (JR), Wake Forest: a QB named Skylar? Well, seems like Ted Stachitas has been bypassed in the QB race up in Winston-Salem. Shame, any man whose name invokes images of mustachioed '70's porn stars should be starting in the ACC. Alas, I digress. We'll see the Deacons & Grobe throw less & option more with Riley Skinner's departure. I don't expect too much from Jones.....
  14. Marc Verica (SR), UVA: the only time this guy has ever played worth a shit was when he beat us 2008. Go figure. Mike London is rebuilding & Verica must be the best option in an obviously bare cupboard. There's little upside here & if he beats Tech again I'll do something drastic......


  1. If nothing else, "The Play that Fired Bobby Bowden" will always be a fan favorite at Tech. Joshua will always be remembered at Tech.

    This is quite a conference slate of QB's. I don't know of another conference with a better lineup.

  2. Parker should get a one slot boost for bringing MILF to the party.