College Football Betting: First-Year Starting Quarterbacks
It’s that time of year for bettors to start sifting through college football’s returning starters and no position gets more attention than quarterbacks. Each season and number of signal callers put up impressive numbers and results only to depart via graduation or leave early for the NFL. Throughout the preseason, the media and various prognosticators want to convince their audience that the loss of a three-year, all-conference starter will be impossible to overcome. Yet year in and year out we see once no-name quarterbacks step in and perform at or above the previous player’s level (see: Washington State’s Gardner Minshew). Plug-and-play isn’t always seamless however. At times, especially with a freshman, there is a drop off in performance. Below we take a look at some of the more high profile teams that will feature a fresh face under center this season.
Out: Kyler Murray
In: Oklahoma supporters were spoiled as Murray was able to immediately step in and match Baker Mayfield’s production. Keep in mind we’re talking about two no. 1 draft picks. Former Alabama starter Jalen Hurts is obviously not on that level. And he’ll be working behind an offensive line that lost four starters to the NFL. Coach ’em up, Lincoln.
Washington State Cougars
Out: Gardner Minshew
In: There is no clear-cut starter with freshman Gunner Cruz and FCS graduate transfer Gage Gubrud the two likeliest candidates. Mike Leach is a well known “quarterback whisperer” but it’s hard to project Cruz or Gubrud matching Minshew’s numbers.
West Virginia Mountaineers
Out: Will Grier
In: First-year head coach Neal Brown is likely to choose between Oklahoma transfer Austin Kendall and last year’s backup and Miami transfer Jack Allison. Allison started last year’s bowl game after Grier decided to sit. He didn’t perform well (17-35, 277 yards, 1 INT) but the entire team and coaching staff essentially mailed in the game. Under Brown, Troy managed to win 10 games last season despite playing two quarterbacks. Both Kendall and Allison have eligibility remaining beyond 2019 so look for Brown to take his time and give both a shot to become the full-time starter.
Ohio State Buckeyes
Out: Dwayne Haskins
In: Georgia transfer Justin Fields looks the part of a Ohio State quarterback with a big arm and plenty of mobility. And if Fields for some reason doesn’t pan out, first-year head coach Ryan Day has multiple replacement options.
Fresno State Bulldogs
Out: Marcus McMaryion
In: McMaryion quietly put up a 156.9 QB rating, good for 13th nationally. That was a better mark than Derek Carr’s final season when he threw for 50 touchdowns. Fresno is one of the least experience teams in the country including a completely revamped offensive line. Jorge Reyna is expected to get the nod under center after backing up McMaryion for two seasons. Betting markets already showing an anti-Fresno stance as USC was bet up from -10.5 to -13.5 in Week 1.
Boise State Broncos
Out: Brett Rypien
In: Rypien was a four-year starter who attempted over 1,600 collegiate passes. Also gone is running back Alexander Mattison and two senior receivers who combined for over 120 catches and 1,800 yards. And projected starting quarterback Chase Cord is coming off of an ACL tear. Tough spot with having to play Florida State in Jacksonville in Week 1.
Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders
Out: Brent Stockstill
In: Stockstill was the face of the program for four seasons. Asher O’Hara was Stockstill’s backup and if named the starter will be working behind a very inexperienced offensive line. Stockstill wasn’t an NFL-caliber player but there’s little chance the Blue Raiders come close to matching everything he brought to the table.
NC State Wolfpack
Out: Ryan Findley
In: The Wolfpack got into a number of shootouts last season thanks to Findley, a host of offensive weapons, and a defense that was gutted by the draft. The offense will hit the reset button with last year’s backup Matt McCay and a “green” offensive line. Head coach Dave Doeren is also going the always questionable co-offensive coordinator route.
Out: Drew Lock
In: Lock’s numbers dipped last season after offensive coordinator Josh Heupel was replaced by the more conservative Derek Dooley. Still, Lock was a four-year starter and managed to get himself drafted. Enter Kelly Bryant who transferred from Clemson after losing the starting job to Trevor Lawrence. Bryant has the pedigree though it’ll be interesting to see the impact the postseason ban (currently being appealed) will have on this season.
Out: David Blough
In: Not a bad situation for Jeff Brohm. Blough and Elijah Sindelar spent the last three seasons vying for the starting job. Blough won it last year and put up decent numbers but Sindelar, when healthy and not turning the ball over, has similar talent. In theory, stay healthy and get the ball to Rondale Moore is all that is required for Purdue to put up points.
Duke Blue Devils
Out: Daniel Jones
In: Jones may have the body, the arm, and the smarts but the reality is he was a above average college quarterback at best. Quentin Harris has been with the program for three seasons and has shown the ability to run the football but not much else. Based on Duke’s offensive returnees and losses, David Cutcliffe is going to being drawing up plenty of conservative, clock-chewing game plans this season.
Penn State Nittany Lions
Out: Trace McSorley
In: McSorley regressed in a big way last season in large part because the offensive line was weak and Saquon Barkley left for the NFL. Sean Clifford is expected to step in after it was recently announced Tommy Stevens was transferring. The Nittany Lions’ offense returns only 30% of last year’s yardage.
Out: Jarrett Stidham
In: It was well documented Stidham and Gus Malzahn spent much of last season not getting along. It showed as Auburn’s offense looked lost for much of the season. But optimism is running high after War Eagle hung 63 on Purdue to close out the year with Malzahn calling plays — something he will do again this season. Joey Gatewood or Bo Nix are projected to start. Reports indicate that Gatewood offers similar size and skill set to that of Cam Newton. Stidham was a solid player but his departure and Malzahn’s renewed interest in running the show should yield better numbers.
Out: Clayton Thorson
In: Clemson transfer Hunter Johnson has garnered a ridiculous amount of hype. Not because he’s guaranteed to be a star but Northwestern simply doesn’t get this caliber of player. He’s a former 5-star recruit and should have no trouble exceeding Thorson’s mediocre production.