Quar­ter­backs off to stel­lar starts in ACC

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Tim Reynolds

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.

JOHN BAZE­MORE — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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.

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