Let’s dive into the top QB performances from each Group of 5 conference. Few reminders, for the sake of the article, QB’s who played FCS level schools will not be eligible to be considered a “top performer” for the week. We make the attempt to watch or at least partially watch each QB mentioned in the article to make sure we are not missing anything. We aim for the film to be our guide in breaking down QB play, with the box score being secondary. Let’s get on with it.
American Athletic Conference
- D’Eriq King, UH- King has been one of my favorite quarterbacks to watch thus far this season. Defenses have not figured out his style of play yet, and having Briles as the OC has helped King develop and find a style of QB play that is allowing him to be successful. King had another huge game in a losing effort to Texas Tech. King finished with 431yds through the air and 5tds, he also added 41yds on the ground and a rushing score, 6tds total. What King has demonstrated early this season is that he is a quarterback first and foremost, he is looking to throw each play as opposed to looking to run. A lot of dual threat quarterbacks start struggling when they try to rely on their legs too much, King has not shown any of that so far, only running when he has to. He has been accurate, throws a great deep ball, which has been set up by mid-range type throws, and the threat of him potentially running has been able to open up passing lanes. Look for King to have continued success.
- Blake Barnett, USF- Barnett had another big day in what was only his 4th college start. While he didn’t use his legs nearly as much as he did in last week’s victory over Georgia Tech, he did throw for over 400yds and had 2tds through the air to lead a 4th quarter come back over Illinois. He started the game off slow, but settled down and had some big time passes in the 4th quarter that led to 18 unanswered points. This has to be good for Barnett and his confidence moving forward with South Florida’s second straight victory versus a Power 5 opponent.
Other Mentions: Brady White had a good game for Memphis with 5tds through the air as they crushed Georgia State. Anthony Russo in his first college start for Temple led them to their first win of the year over Maryland throwing for 228yds along with a passing td.
- Mason Fine, UNT- Fine is another guy who has been extremely fun to watch play this season. He has put up huge numbers each game so far. Yes, his numbers were down from a statistical standpoint in the win versus Arkansas this week, but it was his most impressive performance so far due to the level of talent he was playing against. I hate comparing QBs to other QBs, but he really does remind me a lot of Russell Wilson, and not just because they are shorter quarterbacks. He has a very quick release and is a natural thrower. He has a much stronger arm than I originally thought and is a tough, athletic guy, which he demonstrated on his touchdown run that ended with his helmet popping off. Fine ended with 281yds passing and 1 passing td as he guided UNT to an excellent TEAM win over Arkansas.
- Davis Shanley, WKU- Admittedly, I haven’t been able to analyze Shanley as much as some of the other guys on the list, but to throw for 254yds, 1td, and 0ints in his first start as a freshman against Louisville is impressive. Western Kentucky was close to pulling the upset, but Louisville ended up scoring 14 in the 4th quarter to win. Despite some struggles and a few missed throws, he showed potential that he could be the guy moving forward and help get this Western Kentucky offense rolling. It wiill be interesting to keep track of what happens at the quarterback position for Western Kentucky moving forward.
Other Mentions: James Morgan for FIU has played good football as of late and had 207yds through the air with 2 passing tds as they crushed UMass 63-24.
- Tyree Jackson, Buffalo- Jackson had another big game in their win against Eastern Michigan throwing for 325yds, 3tds and only 5 incompletions out of his 26 attempts. He has started the season out extremely strong and is showing why he was getting NFL buzz to start the season. He showed off his strong arm against EMU with several deep balls, while also showing his ability to move out of the pocket and throw on the run. Throwing from an awkward position and doing it well is an attractive attribute for a QB to have and Jackson does it extremely well. Look for Jackson to continue his big year for Buffalo
- Kato Nelson, Akron- What a huge win for Akron, being down 21-3 at half time against Northwestern and coming back to win 39-34. This upset and comeback was possible due to the quarterback play of Nelson. Yes, Akron returned two interceptions for touchdowns, but Nelson played a clean game and did not turn the ball over against a good Big 10 defense. Nelson finished the day with 277yds passing, 2tds, and added 37yds on the ground. While they have only played two games due to their first game against Nebraska being cancelled, Nelson has started the year off strong and will be interesting to keep up with the rest of the year.
Other Mentions: Mike Glass played a good game for EMU in their loss against Buffalo throwing for 284yds, 2tds, 69yds on the ground and a rushing score. Nathan Rourke for Ohio bounced back from a disappointing Week 1 game. They fell short against Virginia, but he threw for 290yds and 2tds along with 41yds on the ground.
- Brett Rypien, Boise State- In a losing effort to Oklahoma State (44-21), Rypien was one of the bright spots for Boise. Boise was able to move the ball through-out the game, but just couldn’t finish drives, not to mention the two blocked punts that didn’t help them. Even with the loss, Rypien threw some dimes as he finished with 380yds passing, 3tds through the air, and has still yet to throw a pick this season. He was smart and efficient with the ball, which helped set up some deep ball completions. Over-all he is just a solid QB who had a good performance despite his team losing.
- Cole McDonald, Hawaii- Like Rypien, he had a good performance despite his team not getting the victory. Army ended up beating Hawaii 28-21, giving Hawaii their first loss of the season. McDonald picked up right where he left off the previous games and shows no signs of slowing down. He ended the game with 321yds passing and 2tds through the air. The most impressive part of McDonalds game that allows him to sling the ball with such success is how he takes care of the ball. Dating back to last season (only had 9 attempts), he has yet to throw an interception in college. No interceptions in 152 career attempts. As long as he keeps taking care of the ball, Hawaii will have a chance in most games.
- Marcus McMaryion, Fresno State- McMaryion led Fresno to a big time win over UCLA, 38-14. This was never really a game, even though it was only 16-7 at half time, Fresno had control most of the game and really pulled away in the 2nd half, largely due to the play of McMaryion. He didn’t put up ridiculous numbers, but was efficient and did not turn the ball over. He had 270yds passing, 1td throwing and 4tds on the ground with only 16yds rushing. None of McMaryions rushing touchdowns were longer than 4yds, but a touchdown is a touchdown and he finished with 5 total touchdowns. Anytime you beat a big Power 5 school it is a good win, even if the school is struggling.
Other Mentions: Ty Gangi for Nevada helped lead them to a win over Oregon State. San Diego State back up QB Ryan Agnew started for their injured QB and did not throw a pick as they upset Arizona State.
- Justice Hansen, Arkansas State- Big win on the road for the Red Wolves against an improved Tulsa team. Arkansas State came away with the W, 29-20, thanks to a gritty performance by Hansen. These were not your typical Justice Hansen numbers through the air as he had 20 completions out of 33 attempts for just 191yds. However, he did not turn the ball over, which will always give your team a chance to win if you just take care of the football. Hansen was the leading rusher with 80yds on the ground and a rushing score. Arkansas State plays an improved UNLV squad this week and then they start conference play. We should start seeing some big numbers from Hansen soon. However, performances like these say a lot about a quarterback when they just find a way to get it done.
- Evan Orth, South Alabama- It would appear that Orth will be the starter moving forward for the Jaguars. Orth helped the Jaguars capture their first win of the season against Texas State, 41-31. He completed 24 of his 33 attempts, 266yds through the air, and 2tds. These are all career highs and Orth is looking to have a good senior season with some significant playing time.
Other Mentions: Kaleb Barker for Troy was 14 of 21 passing, 110yds and 1int. Not much from a box score view, but anytime you help your team get a big win over a big Power 5 school, in this case Nebraska, it is worth noting.
The season is still young and we are still in the process of figuring out what type of quarterback many of these guys are going to be. We know about Rypien, Fine, Milton, Hansen, and several others because of their experience and history, but it will be interesting to track some of the lesser known quarterbacks and seeing how they develop over a season.