I will be starting a list of the leagues top players from each positions and today I start with the glamor position of QB's
Brian Johnson, Utah
- Reasons for this spot: 2892 passing yards and 18 TD's to 7 INT's, 478 rushing yards and 8 TD's. Those yards are within 400 yards of what Alex Smith did for the Utes in 2004. Yes he sat out last year, but with 3 other teams breaking in new QB's and with BYU and TCU among those teams this seems the logical choice. The receiver position is LOADED with Brent Casteel, Freddie Brown, Brian Hernandez, Derrek Richards, and perhaps Marquis Wilson (still pending issues after DUI in late spring).
- Reasons not this spot: The obvious is that Johnson is coming off where he tore his ACL to New Mexico in 2006 late in the year. He needs to control the ball better and not turnover the ball as much, and he must improve when in the red zone. Even though he has great athleticism and speed he did not attack the line when running the option, plus the running game is a question mark.
Caleb Hanie Colorado State
- Reasons for this spot: Well, he is the most experienced QB in the conference by starting for 2 years at CSU. The return of RB Kyle Bell who should be back from injury will help make the Rams offense more balanced and keep defenses more honest. Hanie is also the returning leader in passing yards and he completed 61.1% of his passes.
Reasons not this spot: He threw 11 TD's to 12 INT's and when CSU played any team with a decent defense he threw for under 200 yards. Also, the offensive line allowed 37 sacks or about 3 per game.
Max Hall BYU
- Reasons for this spot: Max Hall was recruited and spent his red shirt year at Arizona State University. Won multiple awards while in high school ranging from all-area player to all-state and player of the year. The BYU offensive is potent and should put up good numbers and the return of stud freshman Austin Collie will help.
- Reasons not this spot: He has not played competitive football since high school in 2003, because he red shirted at ASU, served a 2 year LDS mission, and sat out last season for transferring. Then BYU lost key players in Johnny Harline, Daniel Coats, and Curtis Brown.
Karsten Sweed, Wyoming
- Reasons for this spot: Once Karsten took over he lead the Pokes to a 5-3 record and one of those loses was a double overtime loss to Syracuse on the road and he did beat a respectable Utah team at home. Sweed did complete just over 60% of his passes.
- Reasons not this spot: While he did go 5-3 only one win came against a team with a winning record. Sweed also threw only 8 intercetptions, yet he competed just 9 touchdown passes in the 9 games he started.
Marcus Jackson TCU
- Reasons for this spot: He plays for TCU and has a good defense behind him to help the young quarterback succeed. He will also have the teams leading rusher back next year in Aaron Brown. Brown shared time last year and still had over 800 yards, and this year as the main back he should increae his output and help Jackson do well early on, especially the Texas game.
- Reasons not this spot: He only played in 2 games last year in the first game he came in as a reserve to lead TCU past Baylor, and then again he came in as an injury reserve against Utah, but was not successful that time. In both games where he played at least 3 quarters he threw less then 200 yards each time.
Rocky Hinds/Travis Dixon, UNLV
- Reasons for this spot: The reason to add 2 players here is that Dixon really shined in the spring game with his running running portion of the offense, he was only 1-3 passing, but he controlled the offense well especially in the run option portion. Dixon moved up to the backup spot after the performance, and might need to be ready in case Hinds who had a minor ACL tear does not fully recover. After transfering from USC Hinds and Coach Mike Samford have yet to bring positive numbers to the spread offense that was successful when at the University of Utah. Very inconsistent he did bookend the season with 300 plus passing yards against Idaho State and Air Force both happended to be their only wins of the year. In the spread option Hinds needs to be more of a running threat and also his completion percentage needs to be much higher in this offense, with all the short passes that are in the offense. Only threw 8 TD's to 9 INT's
- Reasons not this spot: Hinds had the talent to get recruited by Pete Carroll and USC, so the talent is there, but he has yet to fully show his potential at UNLV. The Rebels return 7 offensive starters including their leading receiver Ryan Wolfe who was also first team all Mountain West and offensive Rookie of the Year. There is potential there and if the 3rd year of the Mike Samford offense show any signs of improvement the Rebels, should be able to be more competitive in the conference and win a few more games.
Donovan Porterie New Mexico
- Reasons for this spot: Donovan played in sparrinly in 8 games throughout last year, while only 3 of those games Porterie played in their entirety. In those 3 games he played in only 1 where he passed for over 3oo yards which was a great game for New Mexico where they came back to beat Utah. While the other 2 games he threw for under 175 in each contest
- Reasons not this spot: Porterie gets the nod to be the man for the entire season and will not have to come in mid game here and there. During the spring game he was very sharp throwing over 2oo yards in the spring game. Plus the Lobos return their top receiver in Travis Brown and returning league rushing leader in Robert Ferguson to help out Porterie.
Kevin O'Connell San Diego State
- Reasons for this spot: O'Connell won the spot over Kevin Craft in spring ball, but then transferred so the job is O'Connell. He played sparingly last year and had his best game against New Mexico where he threw for 272 yards but managed 14 points. He was the starter in 2005 before losing it to Craft, but is now back in the spot. The Aztc offense was inept last season and do not expect this to change too much.
- Reasons not this spot: The Aztecs return 10 offensive starters which should help out with O'Connell and should help the teams overall cohesiveness and production.
Shaun Carney, Air Force Academy
- Reasons for this spot: I am not saying Carney is a bad quarterback, but he has been in an option system while at Air Force. This year will be a transition for not just Carney but the whole team, and getting players to switch systems and getting the correct players will be tough.
- Reasons not this spot: He knows how to throw because he is a quarterback and he is a great athlete. These guys at the Academy are smart guys and Carney could move up this list if the players pick up the system. I do not expect Carney to end at the bottom of this list, but for an example look at Nebraska that is just now getting to their level after 3 years of moving from the triple option to a pass offense.