Ranking the 2019 Pac-12 QB's
1. KJ Costello, Stanford, Senior
2018: 65.1% Completion, 3540 yards, 8.6 per, 29 TD, 11 Int If you are just going off pro-potential then Herbert would get the nod here, but Costello had the better season in an offense that was completely devoid of a running game; ranking #110 in Effective Rush in Beta_Rank, but #11 in Effective Pass. Costello was certainly aided by his WR's so we will see if this holds up throughout 2019, but he's well above the Mendoza line on completion rate with a 8.6 per attempt. He's not great when he can't set his feet and he will likely throw deep less in 2019, but Costello is clearly the best returner with Minshew off to the NFL.
2. Justin Herbert, Oregon, Senior
2018: 59.4% Completion, 3151 yards, 7.8 per, 29 TD, 8 Int There is some argument that I am willing to accept that Herbert suffered from lousy WR play and drops, BUT everyone deals with drops and Herbert's completion percentage isn't good by modern football standards. Oregon's offense just wasn't great last season and some of that is on injuries and play-calling, but Herbert needs to pick it up and keep drives alive by completing more passes. It's college and Pac-12 defenses are not exactly a murderer's row. Herbert needs to improve his reads, but he has all the physical tools.
3. Steven Montez, Colorado, Senior
2018: 64.7% Completion, 2849 yards, 7.1 per, 19 TD, 9 Int The Red Baron is back!!! Montez and Shenault lit up the first half of the season and then things went way south. Some of that is that Shenault got hurt, but that injury just highlighted how limited Colorado's offense was outside of the Heisman candidate, a larger part was some deeply unimaginative play-calling from Darrin Chiaverini. Everyone knew what was coming in Pac-12 play. Montez has ideal physical tools, but wasn't asked to do an immense amount last season; particularly down field. I was not madly in love with the Jay Johnson hire, but Montez and Johnson could be this year's Wilkins/Harry/Likens where an underwhelming OC hire rides a returning senior starter and spectacular WR to a solid season.
4. Khalil Tate, Arizona, Senior
2018: 56.3% Completion, 2530 yards, 8.4 per, 26 TD, 8 Int What to make of Tate? Firstly you have to like the TD to INT ratio and appreciate the 8.4 per attempt. He was trying to throw down field. If you think Justin Herbert had some bad receivers, well at least he had Dillon Mitchell, but you have to leaven that with Tate having the support of a better running game. Tate did throw deep, but it was often because he was greedy and vainglorious. Opponents encouraged him to throw deep knowing they could cover Arizona's WR's with single coverage or that Tate would miss the throw. Everything that came easy when Tate was able to devastate defenses with his legs got very hard when he was hobbled by an ankle injury or choosing not to run. Tate still has an impressive tool set and his mechanics have improved under Mazzone. He should be crisper in the offense this season and Arizona is set along the line, though thin, but everything hinges on a nearly new WR corp. If they develop and Tate plays within the offense and gets his completion percentage above the Mendoza line then he could have a very good year.
5. Tyler Huntley, Utah, Senior
2018: 64.1% Completion, 1788 yards, 7.6 per, 12 TD, 6 Int Huntley might be higher if he had not been injured or if his WR's did a little more to help him out. He looked like he had taken a big step forward last season before the injury so I am really excited to see him this season with Andy Ludwig (a hire I really liked) calling plays. The Utes are returning a ton coming into 2019 so if the WR's can step up, an annual question along the Wasatch Range, and Huntley plays even better than last season then the Utes could have a very special year.
And now it gets messy... 6. Gage Gubrud or Trey Tinsley or Anthony Gordon, Washington State
2018 (EWU: FCS): 61.8% Completion, 3342 yards, 7.9 per, 26 TD, 12 Int Gubrud is injured and not participating in spring ball and Tinsley and Gordon have been playing pretty well, so this is far from settled, but Gubrud had a monster 2017 at EWU and I expect he'll take charge in fall camp. That said, it's going to be extremely difficult to replicate the 2018 offensive season the Cougs put up with Minshew at the helm. The 2017 season with Luke Falk, and some struggles at WR, shows that it isn't just plug and play in Pullman. One of these guys will win out and likely play well enough to at least end up in the middle of the list.
7a. JT Daniels, USC, Sophomore
2018: 59.5% Completion, 2672 yards, 7.4 per, 14 TD, 10 Int 7b. Jacob Eason, Washington, Junior
2016 (Georgia): 55.1% Completion, 2430 yards, 6.6 per, 16 TD, 8 Int So these two are tied for a reason. Two highly regarded QB recruits who got the start as true freshman and played... ok. You could say they played at replacement level; which isn't as much of a knock as you might think. We have a little bit of superstar bias in our expectations for true freshman and more often than not; freshman play like freshman. I would expect both of these guys to play better this year than the last time we saw them and they definitely still have some good support around them, being at traditional powers, but I'd like them more if they had different playcallers to grow under than Harrell and Hamdan. These guys both have all the tools and weapons to make significant gains this season though.
9. Jake Luton or Tristan Gebbia Oregon State
2018: 62.5% Completion, 1660 yards, 7.4 per, 10 TD, 4 Int Exit Conor Blount : enter Tristan Gebbia : plot remains the same. Luton played pretty well when he wasn't hurt, but that wasn't a lot of the season. He also had some moments where he looked a little lost in his reads. Gebbia is a former 4 star recruit who got beat out by Taylor Martinez at Nebraska and decided not to stick around. I honestly don't have a read on who starts, but I would bet that both play this season. Gebbia and Luton both have the frames and tools to grow in Jonathan Smith's system and with Jefferson poised for another monster season running the ball they should not have to face all the pressure themselves. Last season the awful defense hid much of the dramatic improvement on offense from many folks and the defense could be bad enough again that the starter feels some unfair pressure in games.
10. Chase Garbers or Devon Modster, Cal
2018: 61.2% Completion, 1506 yards, 5.8 per, 14 TD, 10 Int
2017 (UCLA): 64.6% Completion, 671 yards, 8.5 per, 4 TD, 0 Int So here is the thing about these two; if I were sure it was going to be Devon Modster in the fall I might have him ranked higher. He played pretty well in relief of Josh Rosen. He wasn't great, but he was above replacement level and he's got a big arm and frame. Garbers gives me serious pause though. Sure he did some good things, but he averaged an interception every 26 attempts, and he was not exactly throwing down the field if you look at his yards per attempt. On top of it all Beau Baldwin has been a total bust so far and I didn't see much development from the QB's last season.The bright side is that the Cal offense was such a crime against football in 2018 that there is nowhere to go but up.
11. Dorian Thompson-Robinson, UCLA, Sophomore
2018: 57.7% Completion, 1311 yards, 6.8 per, 7 TD, 4 Int I think Chip Kelly can coach, but I have no earthly idea what he was doing last season playing robot-esque rental Wilton Speight ahead of Thompson-Robinson on a truly execrable UCLA team that was out of bowl contention early. I might have given the reps to the future instead of Speight. That wasn't even the weirdest part, the weirdest part, was the QB's father lighting up Kelly for some pretty uninspiring playcalling when his son did play. There are some reasons to be optimistic: Thompson-Robinson still has loads of untapped talent, Kelly is a bright offensive mind, and his adopted son is a monster at running back, but there are also big questions with Caleb Wilson gone, some depth issues at WR, and the offensive line. Thompson-Robinson should lock down the starting role and not let go, but if he doesn't then all bets are off because Kelly didn't recruit a top talent in this class behind him.
12. Dillon Sterling-Cole or Jayden Daniels or Joey Yellen or Ethan Long, ASU It looks like the competition narrowed to Sterling-Cole and Daniels in the spring, but I watched the spring game and I would not say that anyone really stood out. Long had some nice moments and some bad ones. Unlike everyone else ASU returns almost no game experience. Sterling-Cole has the maturity and college practice edge, but he barely played behind Iron Man Manny Wilkins. Daniels was a big get for ASU and Long and Yellen stuck it out and signed even after ASU landed Daniels. My guess is that Sterling-Cole wins out in the fall. Likens was a bit of a pleasant surprise with how ASU's offense performed, but there was a lack of creativity that hurt them at times; especially in conference play. You can get away with 4 verts as your go to pass play with Manny Wilkins tossing to N'Keal Harry. It might not work as well this season; even with the running game to lean on. The offensive line wasn't great at pass protect and Manny Wilkins covered up a lot of that. We could see both Sterling-Cole and Daniels due to injury or pass rush induced turnovers. Lots of room for upside though, but nothing is certain with this group. The wide range of possibilities has them at the bottom even though it looks like a raw, but very talented group.