Quarterbacks off to stellar starts in ACC
There will be three quarterbacks picked later this fall for spots on the All-Atlantic Coast Conference team.
That might not be enough.
Here’s a snapshot of just some of what the ACC has at quarterback this season: The Heisman Trophy frontrunner, a starter from last season’s national championship game with the goal of getting back to the College Football Playoff, the nation’s current leader in completion percentage, the most prolific sophomore in the country and one of the most highly touted juniors in the game.
Star power isn’t lacking in the ACC, with six teams in the AP Top 25 this week — and quarterback play is a big reason why, especially with so many shredding defenses with both their arms and legs.
“That’s what’s going on in college football,” said Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher, who delivered some impassioned remarks this week about how the rules of the game so heavily favor offenses right now. “You run your quarterback, and you do it. That’s the reality of it. The numbers on offense are going through the roof across the nation . ... That’s where the game of football is at in the college game right now.”
No one best personifies what Fisher is talking about than Louisville’s sensational Lamar Jackson, the widely presumed Heisman frontrunner who is a quarterback who just happens to lead the ACC in rushing yards per game right now.
Keep in mind, it’s not just the run-pass option that’s causing fits.
It’s early, but passing numbers in the ACC are soaring compared to where they were a year ago.
So far, five ACC quarterbacks — Syracuse’s Eric Dungey (346), North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky (342.2), Jackson (325), Virginia’s Kurt Benkert (291) and Duke’s Daniel Jones (282.8) — are averaging more passing yards per game than Clemson’s Deshaun Watson did last season, when his 273.6-ypergame clip not only led the ACC but helped carry the Tigers into the national championship game.
Watson ranks only — only being a relative term — seventh in yards per game among ACC quarterbacks this season. That speaks to how strong this crop of ACC quarterbacks is right now.
“Their quarterback is arguably the best player in America right now,” said Boston College coach Steve Addazio, whose team faces Watson and the Tigers on Friday. “Arguably. Phenomenal.”
North Carolina is on pace so far for the nation’s best completion percentage since 2008, with Trubisky leading the country by completing 76 percent of his throws.
And it might be easy to overlook how sharp he’s been, given how the Tar Heels have won in each of the last two weeks in dramatic finishes — including a 54-yard field goal to snap what was a 22-game home winning streak by Florida State last weekend.
In this file photo, Clemson quarterback Deshaun Watson (4) looks to throw against Georgia Tech in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Atlanta. With enough games played to have a reasonable sample size, the AP begins its Heisman Watch.