Welcome to this week’s edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” For the next few weeks, we are going to focus on how teams performed at various positions. We will be starting with quarterbacks.
Brett Rypien was the offensive player of the year, so this was a pretty easy choice. Rypien had his best year as a starter, and he did it with a shaky offensive line and an unproven group of receivers. Thanks to a canceled bowl game, Rypien missed out on a chance for a 4,000 yard season, but Rypien finished with 3705 yards and 30 touchdown passes while completing over 67 percent of his passes. All of these were career highs for Rypien. I discussed Rypien’s legacy in a feature last week. The Broncos will undoubtedly have big shoes to fill at the quarterback position.
Jordan Love showed some promise in 2017, but his emergence as an elite quarterback was unexpected by some. Love’s sophomore campaign was impressive by any standard; he had over 3500 yards passing and 32 touchdown passes to only six interceptions. Love’s biggest test as a quarterback will come during his junior campaign where he will have a new offensive coordinator and head coach. The Aggies also have a much tougher schedule in 2019.
The Bulldogs struck gold on the transfer market with Marcus McMaryion; his emergence as the starter in the early part of the 2017 season played a big part in the resurgence of Fresno State. McMaryion had a strong 2018 campaign as he led the Bulldogs to a victory in the conference championship game. This was far and away his best year as a quarterback; he finished the year with over 3600 yards passing, completing nearly 69 percent of his passes. McMaryion’s strong performance helped the Bulldogs overcome a shaky running game.
The Rainbow Warriors were difficult to evaluate. The team was radically inconsistent, and their passing numbers are over-inflated because of the offense they run. However, this season was a success for the Warriors, as most experts had them staying home this postseason. They led the conference in passing yards and touchdowns, but they were also sacked more than any team in the league. Hawaii was playing two quarterbacks late in the season, which will be something that their fans should keep an eye on this offseason.
The Falcons passing attack is difficult to evaluate. Their quarterbacks are not asked to throw the ball a ton, but they play a major part in the run game. Isaiah Sanders and Donald Hammond III shared the load at quarterback. Air Force is usually able to eat the clock and be super efficient on offense; this team should be measured by wins, and they failed to make a bowl game again.
If you are looking at numbers alone, you could argue that the Rams’ passing attack should fall under the “good” category. However, the Rams’ running game was a mess this season, and the team was often forced to rely on the passing game after falling behind. KJ Carta-Samuels began the year as the starting quarterback, but he eventually lost his job to Colin Hill. Carta-Samuels had respectable numbers, but became the scapegoat for a struggling team. It was smart to give the job to Hill, who is likely the future at quarterback.
Expectations were sky high for the Nevada, passing attack entering the 2018 season, but the Wolf Pack struggled to be consistent. Some of that can be attributed to Ty Gangi playing part of the season with an injury. But, for a quarterback that was expected to challenge Brett Rypien as the top quarterback in the league, the final results were a bit disappointing.
San Jose State
The Spartans were a bit of a mess at the quarterback position, but it could have been worse. They played up to three quarterbacks in a game. Their leading passer, Josh Love, had less than 2000 yards passing. It will be interesting to see how the Spartans approach the quarterback position in 2019.
Do you remember when people were saying that Tyler Vander Waal would be as good as Josh Allen, or the ESPN announcers proclaiming that the Cowboys were contenders for the G5 spot? Well, poor quarterback play prevented the Cowboys from having a great season. Wyoming had the same amount of passing yards as Air Force. Yep, you read that right: Air Force. Backup quarterback, Sean Chambers, looked decent at the end of the year and is more mobile than Vander Waal.
This team was never the same when Armani Rogers went down. The Rebels were expected by many to be the surprise team in the Mountain West, and Armani Rogers was a dark horse, all conference pick. However, the injury to Rogers and struggles of backup quarterback, Max Gillam, prevented the Rebels from having a special season.
This is another team that was an inconsistent mess at the quarterback position. New Mexico was still a run heavy team even though they did not run the traditional triple option like they have in the past. Sherion Jones was the leading passer for the Lobos at over 1400 yards, but New Mexico only accounted for 2100 yards through the air. This team needs to find an offensive identity next season.
San Diego State
Easily the most perplexing team in the Mountain West. The Aztecs looked elite at times and incompetent at others. Whether the quarterback was Ryan Agnew or Christian Chapman, the Aztecs struggled to be consistent through the air. For years now, it has felt like San Diego State is a good quarterback away from being in the national spotlight.
Stay tuned; next week’s edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly,” will feature the running backs of the Mountain West.