The final edition of Big Ten Quarterback Rankings. Where are all the
heavy hitters competent starters reside. Read on for wisdom.
3. Iowa Hawkeyes
Starter: Cade McNamara
Backups: Joey Labas, Deacon Hill, Marco Lainez
Well, this was a tough one. When ranking quarterbacks, I definitely take into the account the system and coaching staff and their success (or in this case, lack thereof). Iowa has been the epitome of futile the past couple seasons, so much so that Brian Ferentz had his annual pay reduced to a paltry $850,000 a year. `His contract situation also depends on the team averaging 25 points a game and winning seven games. Kirk better draw up some more pick sixes.
In any event, Iowa has been bad. In walks Cade McNamara, a year removed from leading Michigan to a pretty shocking playoff appearance and ending OSU’s dominance over the program. He was pretty accurate (64%) and efficient with Michigan, though his lack of big arm and big plays eventually led Harbaugh to put him out to pasture. He’s also still recovering from a knee injury. However, the chip on his shoulder is growing to Biblical proportions. He’s going to be motivated, and his reputation of a game manager should fit in great with Iowa’s game managing offense.
Outside of him is a bit adventurous. Joey Labas was the lone returnee in the room, but he has apparently been supplanted by Wiscy transfer Deacon Hill as the backup. Lainez is a freshman who won’t arrive until fall. Nothing very exciting there. At the end of the day, Iowa is one of two programs with a starting quarterback who piloted a Big Ten team to a playoff appearance. That’s gotta be worth something. If the Hawkeyes jump back to being a merely average offense this year, tMcNamara is the best QB in the league.
2. Maryland Terrapins
Starter: Taulia Tagovailoa
Backups: Billy Edwards, Cameron Edge, Robert Long
Time comes for everyone. Tagoavailoa is now entering his fourth season as the Terps trigger man. He is the Old Man in the conference this year. Watching Taulia reminds me of people talking about their golf game. “I shot pretty well - I just need to work out that slice out of my game.” Why do people play golf? We may never know. Still, Taulia can look great most of the time, then throw in a game where looks barely more qualified than the fry cook at Scheetz.
Working that out is probably the key to Maryland looking like a contending team. Well, that and playing defense and whatnot. Anyway, Billy Edwards got some duty last year when Taulia was hurt, and he didn’t embarrass himself. Cameron Edge and Robert Long are freshmen, so we don’t expect to see much of them. It’s a sneaky big year for Mike Locksley, who has slowly improved every year, but not by the margin that gives anyone confidence in the future. If the Terps are going to show up as a contending team, you might expect it to be a year with a veteran quarterback coming back to show he can play in the NFL.
1. Michigan Wolverines
Starter: J.J. McCarthy
Backups: Jack Tuttle, Davis Warren, Alex Orji, Jayden Denegal
A pretty easy choice here. McCarthy beat out Cade McNamara for the job last season, then was really solid the whole year. He finished second in the conference in passer rating behind the dearly departed C.J. Stroud, not to mention beat OSU and won the Big Ten. Michigan returns plenty on offense and there is no reason to expect a drop off. In fact, he is one of the few returning guys who could make a Big Leap Forward. He never really got uncorked running the ball despite clearly having some ability there. On the other hand, it also felt like Harbaugh never quite trusted him to let it fly due to some issues throwing picks, something that turned up in their playoff game.
Anyway, behind him is pretty solid too. Jack Tuttle comes over from Indiana. He was never actually good but can come in and hand the ball off with the best of them. David Warren is probably 1B on the backup list (or is that 2B). Orji and Denegal are freshmen who likely won’t see much of the field unless things have gone horribly wrong. We can only dream.