Power 5 QB Camp Competitions

Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz ( Photo: UW Athletics)

Wisconsin QB Graham Mertz (Photo: UW Athletics)

QB battles are beginning to rage all round the country now that camps are opening up this week. I give my prediction for who will be under center in Week 1 for each team having a competition. As we get closer to the end of August, we’ll get clarity on most situations, but some coaches keep things tight lipped. Next to each player’s name you’ll find their recruiting ranking from 247Sports as well as their 2018 stats. All rushing statistics will be presented as non-sack yards. This blog will be updated as fall camp continue.

Arizona State

Contenders: Dillon Sterling-Cole (r-JR), Jayden Daniels (FR)

Sterling-Cole- 4-star (.8923) 2 attempts in 2018

Daniels- 4-star (.9832) #35 overall player in 2019

One thing is certain; whoever takes the snaps for the Sun Devils at home against Kent State will be an inexperienced college QB. Sterling-Cole has spent a year learning the offense but Daniels participated in spring practice and reportedly looked even with the older player. Both QB’s are dual threat options but Daniels is a superior athlete.

Projected Winner: Herm Edwards showed in 2018 that he’s willing to play true freshman in order to build a long term winner at ASU. Because they open up the season with two cupcakes, I expect Jayden Daniels to win this job. He’ll be able to get the requisite freshman mistakes out of the way early without costing the team a win. Daniels is the highest rated QB recruit the Sun Devils have ever signed and I think Edwards wants to prove a point that his freshman is the program savior immediately.

Betting Impact: I typically look to fade true freshman QB’s in their first start but I’m not rushing to the window to play Kent State +25.5. I make them +24.5 in that one but Daniels is a transcendent talent and the Golden Flashes are one of the worst defenses in the country. Daniels absolutely raises the ceiling of this ASU team and if he’s great right away, watch out.

Updates:

7/30- BetOnline sets the odds at +100 for Sterling-Cole and +200 for Daniels to win the job

8/6- BetOnline has taken this competition off the board. Practice reports are mentioning Daniels as the leader through the first week or so. Fellow Freshman Joey Yellen has forced his way into the competition as well.

8/12- Jayden Daniels has won the job. This raises Arizona State’s floor considerably.

Arkansas

Contenders: Ben Hicks (SR), Nick Starkel (SR)

Hicks- 3-star (.8560) 2,582 YDS, 56%, 19 TD-7 INT at SMU.

Starkel- 3-star (.8671) 1,793 YDS, 60%, 14 TD-6 INT in 2017 at Texas A&M. He didn’t play much in 2018 for the Aggies.

Arkansas received such bad quarterback play in 2018 that coach Chad Morris brought in not one, but two graduate transfers for 2019. He snagged in his QB at SMU, Ben Hicks, as well as Nick Starkel from SEC rival Texas A&M. Hicks is obviously very familiar with Morris’ system but he’ll be experiencing a big jump up in competition.

Projected Winner: I believe Morris brought in Ben Hicks to be his starting QB. He knows the offense very well and he has more game experience than Starkel. Starkel does have experience playing in the SEC though so I wouldn’t be surprised if both guys start games at some point this year.

Betting Impact: I don’t think there is a real discernible difference between these two guys. They’re both grad transfers so they’ve seen a lot of college football. Arkansas travels to Ole Miss in Week 2 and I currently make them 5-point ‘dogs in that one. I have Ole Miss as my second worst SEC team so Hicks will get a soft landing to begin league play.

Updates:

7/30- BetOnline installs Hicks as a -200 favorite to win the jobs. Starkel is is listed at +150.

8/6- BetOnline hasn’t changed their odds on this one. Starkel and Hicks seem to be locked in a very tight one right now.

8/12- Hicks appears to be the guy Arkansas is going with.

8/26- Ben Hicks has been named the starting QB for week 1.

Auburn

Contenders: Joey Gatewood (r-FR), Bo Nix (FR)

Gatewood- 4-star (.9759) 1 attempt in redshirt 2018 season #1 ATH in 2018 class

Nix- 5-star (.9857) #1 QB in 2019 class

Auburn is going to be incredibly green at the quarterback position in 2019 but they certainly won’t lack talent. Both Gatewood and Nix are athletic QB’s that are great fits for Gus Mahlzan’s offense. Gatewood played in a two-QB system in high school so he’s never had experience as “the guy”. Nix, who enrolled early and participated in spring practice, is seemingly the perfect Auburn QB. He’s mobile, his is dad played quarterback for the Tigers, and he holds almost every passing record in the state of Alabama.

Projected Winner: While Nix seemingly has it all, Joey Gatewood is reportedly leading this battle as fall camp begins. This is one of the closest battles of camp season and I bet it takes all of August to declare a winner.

Betting Impact: Unfortunately for the Tigers, they’ll be breaking in a freshman QB against Oregon in Week 1. I’ve already made a bet on Auburn -2.5 for this game and it’s since it’s move to -3. I would hold off for now though because I worry about Gatewood having been the “running QB” in a two-quarterback system in high school. I’d be much more comfortable with my bet if Nix is named the starter. I wouldn’t be surprised to see both guys play against the Ducks.

Updates:

7/30- BetOnline makes Gatewood a -150 favorite while Nix is listed at +110

8/6- BetOnline has removed this competition from the board. Reports out of practice are saying that Bo Nix has pulled even with Joey Gatewood. He’s looked better throwing the ball.

8/12- It sounds like Nix is going to win this job. Both QBs play but I expect Nix to be the main QB going forward.

8/20- Bo Nix is named the starter for week one

Georgia Tech

Contenders: Tobias Oliver (r-SO), Lucas Johnson (r-JR), James Graham (r-FR), Jordan Yates (FR)

Oliver- 3-star (.8423) 167 YDS, 44%, 2 TD-0 INT/897 YDS, 6.1 YPC, 12 TD

Johnson- 3-star (.8272) no attempts

Graham- 3-star (.8958) #17 athlete in ‘18

Yates- 3-star (.8687) #18 dual threat QB in ‘18

Georgia Tech will be making the most drastic scheme change in the FBS this year as they move away from the triple option after hiring Geoff Collins. Gone are the days when a glorified running back can be under center for the Yellow Jackets. Oliver has the most in-game experience of this foursome but he’s very behind as a passer. Johnson has been called the best passer former coach Paul Johnson ever recruited to run the triple option. He’s never played but his passing chops are well known. Graham is a massive question mark for 2019 but he does have big upside. That Collins recruited Yates himself shows that he fits what Georgia Tech wants to do and that he’ll still consider dual threat QBs.

Projected Winner: I think that Lucas Johnson wins this one in a landslide. They only quarterback on the roster that’s known for his passing, Johnson fits what Collins is trying to do on offense. Oliver will see the field but I doubt it’ll be in obvious passing scenarios.

Betting Impact: Georgia Tech is going to have a down year in 2019 and there isn’t much these QBs can do about it. Johnson is the quarterback that Bees bettors should want in the game. If not, they’ll be very one dimensional.

Updates:

8/6- Oliver has been a little bumped up to begin practices. Johnson being the better thrower seems to have the edge.

Illinois

Contenders: Brandon Peters (r-JR), Isaiah Williams (FR)

Peters- 4-star (.9684) 672 YDS, 53%, 4 TD-2 INT at Michigan in 2017

Williams- 4-star (.9479) #6 athlete in ‘19

For the first time in what seems like forever, the Illini have legitimate, 4-star talent in the quarterback room. Peters was a massive recruit for Michigan in 2016. He had a 4 game look as their starter in 2017 and didn’t perform too badly for a young kid. He was eventually passed up by Ole Miss transfer Shea Patterson. He’ll have two years of eligibility at Illinois. Williams arrives on campus as the highest rated Illinois QB signee since Isiah “Juice” Williams. The two time Missouri Gatorade Player of the Year bring elite elusiveness and a strong arm.

Projected Winner: Offensive Coordinator Rod Smith has coached Pat White, Denard Robinson, and Khalil Tate. Illinois is hoping that Williams is the next great dual threat QB under Smith’s tutelage. But first he’ll turn to pro style QB Brandon Peters. Smith has stated he wouldn’t mind throwing the ball a little more and now he has the man for the job.

Betting Impact: While Williams is likely the long term answer at QB, this Illinois staff needs to win right now. Peters’ passing ability along with a talented running back group will keep the offense balanced. If the Illini hand the reigns over to Williams, that will signify that they fully trust him as a passer and he’ll be on the fast track. There is no more playing for the future for this staff.

Updates:

7/30- BetOnline installed Brandon Peters as a -250 favorite to win the job. Williams is listed at +170.

8/1- 5Dimes makes Peters the favorite at -310. The field is listed at +230.

8/6- BetOnline hasn’t changed their odds on the competition. 5Dimes has moved the odds to Peters -300 and the field to +220. Practice reports say that Peters hasn’t looked special but he’s far and away the leader for this job.

8/12- Williams is starting to gain confidence but I’d be very surprised if Peters doesn’t take the first snap on Week 1.

8/20- Brandon Peters was named the starting quarterback for week one.

Indiana

Contenders: Peyton Ramsey (JR), Michael Penix Jr (r-FR), Jack Tuttle (r-FR)

Ramsey- 3-star (.8386) 2,875 YDS, 66%, 19 TD-13 INT/513 YDS, 6.1 YPC, 5 TD

Penix Jr- 3-star (.8749) 219 YDS, 62%, 1 TD-0 INT

Tuttle- 4-star (.9321) #8 pro style QB in ‘18 for Utah

Ramsey started most of the games for the Hoosiers in 2018 but he made far too many mistakes. His 13 interception eventually led to Michael Penix Jr getting a chance late in the year. Penix was excellent in a game against Penn State before tearing his ACL and ending his season. Penix missed spring camp due to the injury. Tuttle is a Utah transfer that would be the highest ranked Indiana QB of all time. He’s obviously very talented but doesn’t have much experience. Possibly leveling the playing field is Indiana’s hire of new offensive coordinator Kalen DeBoer. All three QBs will be learning his spread offense as they go.

Projected Winner: Due to the injury to Penix and Tuttle’s inexperience, the nod has to go to Peyton Ramsey. Ramsey certainly isn’t the sexy pick but he has the experience and has looked good at times. I’d wager that this battle will go on for most of the season though.

Betting Impact: Penix’s injury is very unfortunate for IU. I think Hoosier fans would love to see a higher upside option than Ramsey under center. The schedule starts off easy with Ball State and Eastern Illinois but a Week 3 visit from Ohio State will be a big test. If Penix or Tuttle take over later in the year, look for Indiana’s ceiling to raise significantly.

Updates:

7/30- BetOnline installs Payton Ramsey as a heavy -400 favorite for the job. Penix and Tuttle are listed at +300 and +500 respectively

8/6- BetOnline has kept the odds the same for this competition. Ramsey still looks to have quite the edge in this one.

8/26- Michael Penix has been named the starter

Kansas

Contenders: Thomas MacVittie (JR), Carter Stanley (SR), Miles Kendrick (SO)

MacVittie- 3-star (.8722) #37 JuCo player in ‘19

Stanley- 3-star (.8058) 344 YDS, 72%, 3 TD-1 INT in 5 games

Kendrick- 3-star (.8017) 11 attempts in ‘18

Projected Winner: Unless something strange happens, it looks like Thomas MacVittie is set to start for the Jayhawks in 2019. Stanley actually looked decent in his little playing time last year though so maybe he can push him.

Betting Impact: Whoever wins this job needs to just be able to get the ball to Pooka Williams. Any help in the passing game will just open up more lanes for him. The real impact of this competition will need to be monitored once someone emerges.

Updates:

Louisville

Contenders: Juwan Pass (r-JR), Malik Cunningham (r-SO), Evan Conley (FR)

Pass- 4-star (.9209) 1,960 YDS, 54%, 8 TD-12 INT

Cunningham- 3-star (.8686) 473 YDS, 60%, 1 TD-1 INT/518 YD, 6.7 YPC, 5 TD

Evan Conley- 3-star (.8247)

Louisville completely self-destructed in 2018 and unfortunately their quarterbacks did little to stop the bleeding. Juwan Pass was tasked with taking over for Lamar Jackson and things went so poorly that Malik Cunningham got a shot as well. Pass is known for well, his passing, while Cunningham is more of a runner. New coach Scott Satterfield wants to run the ball a bunch so whoever wins won’t have quite as much of a burden as last year. Because Satterfield is completely starting over here, true freshman Evan Conley cannot be ruled out.

Projected Winner: Juwan Pass is the most talented QB on the roster and I believe that talent will win out in the end. Louisville wants to run the ball but not necessarily with the quarterback. Pass’ ability to throw the ball downfield when he needs to will open up the run game.

Betting Impact: The biggest impact with this competition will be seen on the totals side. With Pass in the game, the Cardinals’ offense should be more balanced so you’ll see more chunk plays and stopped clocks due to incompletions. If Cunningham wins the job, they’ll lean even more heavily on the run game, keeping the clock ticking and unders cashing.

Updates:

8/6- Pass appears to have a commanding lead over Cunningham for the starting job. It sounds like the Cardinals will have some packages for Cunningham though.

8/12- Juwan Pass will be the starter on Week 1.

Miami (FL)

Contenders: N’Kosi Perry (r-SO), Tate Martell (r-SO), Jarren Williams (r-FR)

Perry- 4-star (.9218) 1,091 YDS, 51%, 13 TD-6 INT

Martell- 4-star (.9739) 269 YDS, 82%, 1 TD-0 INT in 6 games at Ohio State

Williams- 4-star (.9614) three attempts in ‘18

Miami has three very talented but unproven quarterbacks to chose from this fall. Perry was very inconsistent as a redshirt freshman but that’s what you’d expect. Martell comes in as the most highly touted of the bunch. He was excellent in mop up duty at Ohio State last year and inexplicably was granted immediate eligibility at Miami for 2019. We don’t know much about Jarren Williams other than his obvious raw talent. New offensive coordinator and QB coach Dan Enos was hired away from Alabama to find some answers at the quarterback position for The U. At least he has talent to work with,

Projected Winner: Miami opened up camp earlier this week and incumbent N’Kosi Perry has been getting the first reps. I think he’ll be given the chance to start but Tate Martell’s upside will prevail. Martell and Enos should be a great combination. I can see Enos running a bunch of read options and RPO plays to maximize Martell’s mobility.

Betting Impact: If Miami can find a legit ACC caliber starting quarterback, this team is going to be very good. The Hurricanes are loaded with talent, they just need someone to distribute the ball efficiently. Whoever wins the job will be in for a tough battle in Week 0 against Florida’s defense. I make the line Miami +8.5 so I’m considering a Gators -7 or better regardless of who takes the snaps.

Updates:

7/30- BetOnline makes Martell the favorite at -150. Perry is listed at +175 while Williams is +300 for the starting job.

8/1- 5Dimes makes Martell a -180 favorite. The field is set at +140.

8/6- BetOnline’s odds remain the same but 5Dimes now has Martell as -160 and the field at +120. Martell is still expected to be named the starter but the other two QBs are playing quite well.

8/12- Miami has named redshirt freshman Jarren Williams it’s starting QB.

Mississippi State

Contenders: Keytaon Thompson (JR), Tommy Stevens (SR)

Thompson- 4-star (.9258) 458 YDS, 46%, 6 TD-1 INT in 6 games

Stevens- 3-star (.8599) 11 attempts in ‘18

Replacing Nick Fitzgerald’s running ability isn’t going to be an easy task for Joe Morehead and Mississippi St. The three year starter rushed for over 1,000 yards in all three seasons as the signal caller for the Bulldogs. Replacing Nick Fitzgerald’s throwing ability should be be much easier. He wasn’t very efficient and put the ball in harms way too often. Morehead’s offenses can utilize a running QB, but they really thrive when he has an accurate passer.

Projection: The writing is on the wall for this QB battle. Morehead wants an accurate passer and Keytaon Thompson just hasn’t proven that he fits that description. Tommy Stevens isn’t exactly Chad Pennington but he can get the ball out accurately on short and intermediate passes. He was also coached by Morehead at Penn State so he has some familiarity with the system. He’s the guy for the Bulldogs in 2019.

Betting Impact: This team will be lead first and foremost by it’s defense. All they need the quarterback to do is manage the game and chew up clock. Stevens gives them a much better chance than Thompson in this regard. The upgrade Morehead made by bringing in Stevens should raise the ceiling of this team. Oddsmakers will place very low totals on games involving Mississippi State but I’ll still be looking to play unders with them.

Updates:

7/30- BetOnline installed Tommy Stevens as a -170 favorite to win the job. Thompson was listed at +130. I actually think Stevens at -170 is worth a bet.

8/6- BetOnline has kept their odds the same. This one still seems pretty close.

8/12- Tommy Stevens looks to have a leg up in this one.

8/22- Tommy Stevens has been named the starter.

NC State

Contenders: Matt McKay (r-SO), Bailey Hockman (FR), Devin Leary (r-FR)

McKay- 3-star (.8560) eight attempts in ‘18

Hockman- 3-star (.8725) #1 JuCo QB in ‘19

Leary- 4-star (.8905) #327 overall player in ‘19

Ryan Finley was awesome for NC State in 2018 but now he’s in the NFL and the Wolfpack will turn to an unproven starter. McKay was the primary backup to Finley and he appears to have a leg up on the competition. Leary is the highest rated recruit of the bunch and Hockman was successful as JuCo QB and is a former Florida State recruit.

Projected Winner: Hockman certainly may give him a run for his money, but I’ll place my chips on 2018 backup Matt McKay. This one is tough because we really don’t know anything about Hockman’s ability at the college level. Leary is super talented but also doesn’t have the experience. I think they at least start the year with McKay under center.

Betting Impact: ECU has moved from +20.5 to +18 in Week 1 against the Wolfpack but the move is more about ECU’s improvement than NC State’s quarterback. If McKay is indeed the starter, I expect this team to have a significantly lower ceiling. If Hockman or Leary are named the starter, good things should be in store for NC State.

Updates:

7/30- BetOnline lists McKay as a -250 favorite with Hockman at +275 and Leary at +350.

8/6- BOL has kept their odds the same.

8/26- Matt McKay has been named the starter for week 1.

North Carolina

Contenders: Cade Fortin (r-FR), Jace Ruder (r-FR), Sam Howell (FR)

Fortin- 3-star (.8676) 388 YDS, 49%, 1 TD-1 INT in four games

Ruder- 4-star (.8957) five attempts in ‘18

Howell- 4-star (.9582) #3 dual threat QB in ‘19

North Carolina will be trotting out a freshman quarterback for their Week 1 game against South Carolina. The big question is: will it be true freshman Sam Howell? Howell, a former Florida State commit, is one of the most hyped true freshman in the entire country. He’ll have to overcome both Fortin and Ruder, both of whom spent a year in college developing. New offensive coordinator Phil Longo brings his high powered offense to the Tar Heels from Ole Miss. Whoever wins this job will have high expectations in his system.

Projected Winner: Most around the program are pointing towards Fortin as the started to begin the season. I’m going to go out on a limb and say Mack Brown wants to reward his biggest recruit, Sam Howell, with the starting job right away. Howell is a true dual threat QB that will thrive in Longo’s offense.

Betting Impact: The aforementioned matchup between North and South Carolina currently has a spread of SC -7. That’s where I have the game so I won’t have a bet on the side. Be careful of a true freshman in his first start, in a rivalry game, and against an SEC defense if Howell does win the job. Either way, I can’t back the Tar Heels.

Updates:

8/6- All three QBs are still splitting reps at this early stage of camp

8/12- Phil Longo stated that no QB has separated themselves. All three are still splitting reps.

8/18- Sam Howell has one the job

Oklahoma State

Contenders: Dru Brown (r-SR), Spencer Sanders (r-FR)

Brown- 2-star (.7933) two year starter at Hawaii

Sanders- 4-star (.9311) #8 dual threat QB in ‘18

This competition features two players that couldn’t have had more opposite journeys to Stillwater. Sanders was the big time recruit and decorated Texas high school star. Brown was a two star recruit who started out at Hawaii before transferring to Oklahoma State. Sanders is very athletic and has one of the strongest arms in the country. Brown is thought to be a game manager that won’t turn the ball over. Head coach Mike Gundy and new offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson will have to pick a lane for the 2019 season: play it safe or shoot for the stars?

Projected Winner: I think Dru Brown is better than folks realize but I just don’t see any way the Pokes don’t start Spencer Sanders in Week 1 against Oregon State. OSU follows that game up with a home game against FCS McNeese State. That’ll give Sanders some time to get his feet wet.

Betting Impact: Oklahoma State is going to have another very good offense no matter who is under center. If Sanders wins the job, they’ll be absolutely explosive. The thought of Sanders launching deep balls to star wideout Tylan Wallace has oddsmakers wanting to make Oklahoma State totals in the 80s. With Sanders taking the snaps, the Cowboys are a dark horse BIG 12 and College Football Playoff contender. I’m actually making a bet on Spencer Sanders to win the Heisman if I can find odds on it somewhere.

Updates:

7/30- BetOnline makes Sanders a -300 favorite against Brown (+200) for the job.

8/6- BetOnline hasn’t changed their stance on this competition yet. Sanders hasn’t exactly won this thing yet. It’s a really competition.

8/12- No starter has been named but I’m starting to get the feeling Gundy will go conservative with Brown. I hope I’m wrong because Sanders has massive upside.

Oregon State

Contenders: Jake Luton (r-SR), Tristan Gebbia (r-SO)

Luton- 3-star (.8601) 1,660 YDS, 63%, 10 TD-4 INT

Gebbia- 4-star (.9217) Nebraska transfer

Oregon State was all set to trot out Tristan Gebbia as their starting QB until Jake Luton received a medical hardship waiver, granting him a sixth year of eligibility. While he’ll still have to hold off Gebbia this fall, Luton took most of the reps in spring practice. Luton is a pocket passer while Gebbia is more mobile. The contrast in styles makes this an intriguing battle.

Projected Winner: Jake Luton looks like he’ll spend his sixth year at Oregon State under center for the Beavs. Gebbia will have to be very impressive in fall camp to take over for the veteran.

Betting Impact: The style of offense Oregon State is going to run this year will depend on it’s quarterback. Luton’s lack of mobility and accuracy on short passes leaves the offense lacking explosiveness. Gebbia would bring some of that firepower with his big arm and running ability. This seems like an explosiveness versus efficiency situation and it will affect Oregon State totals.

Updates:

8/6- Gebbia is making up a lot of ground in this competition. It looks like it’s neck and neck right now.

8/23- Jake Luton has won the QB job

Rutgers

Contenders: Artur Sitkowski (SO), McClane Carter (SR)

Sitkowski- 3-star (.8881) 1,158 YDS, 49%, 4 TD-18 INT

Carter- 3-star (.8395) 677 YDS, 53%, 4 TD-4 INT in 10 career games at Texas Tech

I feel bad for Artur Sitkowski. As a highly ranked freshman quarterback (for Rutgers) he had one of the worst seasons in college football history. He had little help from his supporting cast as Rutgers finished the year 1-11. Sitkowski was simply thrown to the wolves in year one. We’ll see if that has crushed his confidence or not. McClane made his way to Piscataway after he saw himself buried on the depth chart at Texas Tech. Neither of these options are really particularly exciting.

Projected Winner: I truly believe that Artur Sitkowski will be a solid Big Ten quarterback by the time he’s through at Rutgers. He was a talented recruit that just didn’t get any help last year. He has to prove that he’ll take care of the ball but he has more natural talent than Carter.

Betting Impact: There isn’t much of an impact on the spread from either of these guys. Rutgers is going to be bad regardless of who is under center but Sitkowski will at least make them interesting.

Updates:

8/1- 5Dimes makes the field (Sitkowski) -155 over Carter (+115)

8/6- 5Dimes now has the field (Sitkowski) -175 over Carter (+135)

TCU

Contenders: Alex Delton (SR), Justin Rogers (r-FR), Michel Collins (SR), Max Duggan (FR)

Delton- 3-star (.8609) 554 YDS, 55%, 2 TD-2 INT/329 YDS,4.7 YPC, 2 TD in 7 games at Kansas State

Rogers- 4-star (.9772) #3 dual threat QB in ‘18

Collins- 2-star (.7667) 1,059 YDS, 56%, 6 TD-2 INT in 8 games

Duggan- 4-star (.9127) #5 dual threat QB in ‘19

TCU’s quarterback competition is wide open and features a very interesting mix of players. Delton comes to town as a grad transfer from Kansas State. He played sparingly in 2018 but was serviceable enough both through the air and on the ground. Justin Rogers was a borderline 5-star recruit coming out of high school but suffered a horrible leg injury during his senior year. That injury caused him to miss almost all of his true freshman season. He’s still not 100% healthy so I’m not going to count on him to begin the year. Collins was a solid backup last year and served as a game manager when pushed into duty. Another extremely talented freshman, Max Duggan joins the fray as well. It’s a cast of characters to be sure but the QB play can’t be much worse than it was at the end of last season.

Projected Winner: If Justin Rogers was 100% healthy, I’d pick him for this job. Unfortunately I think it’s going to hold him out for at least a few weeks to begin the season. Max Duggan could push for this job immediately as well. I expect Collins to be the primary backup again after proving he could handle that role last year. In Week 1 against Arkansas-Pine Bluff I expect Alex Delton to lead the Horned Frogs offense.

Betting Impact: Having Alex Delton as your quarterback in going to put a ceiling on how explosive your offense can be. The number one job of whoever wins this battle will be to get the ball to star wide receiver Jalen Raegor. I suspect Delton will be just fine at doing that. If Rogers or Duggan end up with this job, the offense could be electric.

Updates:

8/1- Coach Gary Patterson said that Justin Rogers is “closer than he’s ever been” to being 100% per Drew Davison of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

8/6- Alex Delton is still taking the first team reps. Rogers and Duggan seem to be lagging behind and showing some freshman mistakes.

8/12- Alex Delton hasn’t been officially named the starter yet but he will take the first snaps of Week 1.

8/27- Alex Delton will take the first snaps in week one. Max Duggan will see time though.

Wake Forest

Contender: Sam Hartman (SO), Jamie Newman (r-JR)

Hartman- 3-star (.8626) 1,984 YDS, 55%, 16 TD-8 INT/421 YDS, 4.4 YPC, 2 TD in 9 starts

Newman- 3-star (.8585) 1,083 YDS, 60%, 9 TD-4 INT/296 YDS, 5.7 YPC, 4 TD in 4 starts

Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson is probably having deja vu as his team is running back the same QB battle from last year. Hartman won out last season and started off very well against bad competition but then looked like a true freshman quarterback in the rest of his games. He eventually was sidelined with a leg injury. Newman stepped in and performed pretty well to close the season. The Demon Deacons have two capable ACC starting quarterbacks.

Projected Winner: After winning this exact same competition as a true freshman, I’m going to bet that Sam Hartman does it in his sophomore year as well. He was replaced due to an injury, not poor performance. Unless Newman blows the staff out of the water, the job belongs to Hartman.

Betting Impact: Wake Forest is in a really good spot at the quarterback position. I don’t think there is much of a difference between the two guys at all. If one of them goes down, I’m confident that the other will fill in just fine. Wake Forest opens up with a sneaky good matchup against Utah St. Whoever wins the job won’t have the quarterback advantage over the Aggies’ Jordan Love.

Updates:

8/6- This battle is completely up for grabs. I still like Sam Hartman but this one is too close to call.

8/18- Jamie Newman will start week one.

Washington State

Contenders: Anthony Gordon (r-SR), Trey Tinsley (r-SR), Gage Gubrud (SR)

Gordon- N/A five attempts in ‘18

Tinsley- 2-star (.7667) nine attempts in ‘18

Gubrud- N/A 9,918 YDS, 66%, 87 TD-31 INT in 29 games at Eastern Washington

After reaching into the transfer portal and finding Gardner Minshew in 2018, Mike Leach is at it again. He’s brought in Gage Gubrud from Eastern Washington to compete with a couple of backups from last year. Gubrud put up video game numbers in EWU’s high powered offense in his first two seasons. He was well on his way to another monster year when he got injured after five games. Gordon and Tinsley both took very few snaps in garbage time. They know Leach’s system very well but don’t have the game experience that Gubrud does.

Projected Winner: Gage Gubrud looks like an absolutely perfect fit for this Washington State offense. He’ll be able to step in right where Minshew left off. He’s got a strong, accurate arm and can move around a little bit. The other two QB’s would like be able to manage the game but Gubrud give this offense another gear.

Betting Impact: I see Gubrud joining the Cougars as very similar to Minshew last year. Gubrud is actually a more accomplished college quarterback than Minshew was at this time last year. I think this Washington State offense is going to pick up right where it left off in 2018.

Updates:

8/1- 5Dimes makes Gubrud the favorite at -180. The field is listed at +145.

8/6- 5Dimes now makes Gubrud a -290 favorite to start in Week 1

8/20- Gubrud has fallen behind Anthony Gordon in the quarterback race.

8/25- Anthony Gordon will start at QB in week 1

West Virginia

Contenders: Austin Kendall (SR), Jack Allison (JR), Trey Lowe (r-FR)

Kendall- 4-star (.9239) 122 YDS, 71%, 1 TD-0 INT in four games at Oklahoma in ‘18

Allison- 4-star (.9264) Miami (FL) transfer

Lowe- 3-star (.8719) two attempts in ‘18

West Virginia is going to be taking a step back on offense after losing Will Grier and Dana Holgerson. New coach Neal Brown brought in Austin Kendall as a grad transfer from Oklahoma. Kendall didn’t get much playing time as we backed up two Heisman winners but he was a highly touted recruit himself. Jack Allison was also a highly touted prospect when he signed with Miami on 2016. Last year was his first as a Mountaineer and he was the primary backup for Grier. He had an awful performance in West Virginia’s bowl game that hopefully isn’t indicative of the kind of player he can be. Trey Lowe is the athlete of this bunch. He’s got a strong arm and can really run it.

Projected Winner: I think there’s little doubt that Austin Kendall wins this job. He was brought in to start and lead this offense. He’s also faired much better than Allison in their limited playing time.

Betting Impact: While this offense isn’t going to replicate the West Virginia offenses we’ve seen the last few years, Kendall gives them a chance to be explosive at least. If Allison or Lowe win the job, I think we’re looking at a big down year in Morgantown.

Updates:

8/1- 5Dimes makes Kendall the favorite at -180. The field is listed at +140.

8/6- 5Dimes sees Austin Kendall as a -750 favorite now. This one seems to be wrapped up.

8/18- Austin Kendall has been named the starter for week one.

Wisconsin

Contenders: Jack Coan (JR), Graham Mertz (FR)

Coan- 3-star (.8714) 515 YDS, 60%, 5 TD-3 INT

Mertz- 4-star (.9689) #3 pro style QB in ‘19

Wisconsin has been so good the last few years despite Alex Hornibrook being an abomination at quarterback. If they can get competent QB play and find some balance in this offense, they’ll go a long way in 2019. Coan had some starts late in 2018 that proved he could at least handle the job. He still doesn’t stretch the field and lacks upside. Mertz is the quarterback that Wisconsin fans have been clamoring for for years. He’s an extremely high rated prospect that has all the tools you want in a quarterback. It’s only a matter of time before he’s the Badgers QB1 but is Week 1 that time?

Projected Winner: Wisconsin football is known for playing it safe. Starting Jack Coan in Week 1 and letting Mertz develop behind him would be the safe play. For some reason, I think Paul Chryst is ready to go all in and start true freshman Graham Mertz.

Betting Impact: Despite having a Heisman candidate in Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin will go as far as their quarterback takes them. If Coan is under center all season then Taylor won’t be getting much help. If it’s Mertz, that shows me that he’s absolutely ready to go. The Badgers will be in the Big Ten Championship Game if Mertz is under center.

Updates:

7/30- BetOnline has this one in a dead heat, with both players at -120 to win the job.

8/1- 5Dimes makes Coan the favorite at -150. The field is listed at +110.

8/6- While BetOnline isn’t making any changes, 5Dimes now has Coan at -265 to start Week 1. He’s been taking the first team reps in practice.

8/12- Practice reports say Jack Coan is taking the first team reps still. He’s likely to start.

8/25- Jack Coan has won the starting job for week 1.

Preseason AP Poll Discrepancies

2019 Week 1 Line Projections

2019 Week 1 Line Projections