2019 Conference USA QB Preview: Middle Tennessee
The Blue Raiders will have their share of changes to address for the 2019 season, but none bigger than how they are going to replace the best quarterback in program history, Brent Stockstill. Stockstill has pretty much every important quarterbacking record at Middle Tennessee. He is the all-time career leader in passing yards, passing touchdowns, and the single season leader in passing yards and touchdowns, just to name a few. Anytime you have to replace a player that has done that much for a program, there are going to be some growing pains, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The 2019 season is a new chapter for the Middle Tennessee football team. The quarterback position is up for grabs as the quarterback room is filled with inexperience. Asher O’Hara has the most experience at the Division 1 level out of the other guys on the roster, and he has only thrown 20 career passes at Middle Tennessee. It seems to be a three to four-man battle with O’Hara, Chance Nolan, Chase Cunningham, and junior college transfer Randall Johnson.
While O’Hara, Nolan, and Cunningham lack experience on the field, the experience they had backing up Stockstill and learning from him should not go unnoticed. When you have a chance to sit back and watch a great player and a great person on and off the field, you get better as a player just by taking mental notes and seeing how he lead others for 4 years as the starter. I am not saying that alone is going to make one of the three guys be a great quarterback, but I think Stockstill’s example over the years will rub off on the guys competing for the job this year. Randall Johnson didn’t have that benefit to sit behind and learn from Stockstill, but he got valuable playing time at his junior college. Johnson played in 21 games over the last two seasons at Reedley College, and while the talent he will be facing at the FBS level is much better than at the juco level, it will still help Johnson’s case to be the starting quarterback. Every quarterback in this competition knows that regardless who wins the job, they will have big shoes to fill.
2018 QB Performance
- Stockstill’s last year he threw for over 3,500 yards, had 31 total touchdowns, and 10 interceptions. He also had an impressive completion percentage of 70.3%
- Asher O’Hara was the only other quarterback on the roster to complete a pass. He completed 9 out of his 20 pass attempts, with 114 yards passing and 1 interception. He also added 85 yards rushing and 1 touchdown. He accumulated these stats in the game against FIU when Stockstill went down early in the game with an injury.
- If this was a 2018 quarterback performance article, we could spend a lot of time talking about the stellar year Stockstill had, but it is not so we will leave it at this.
2019 QB Preview
Just to put it out there, I have no insider information into the program and do not know who will end up being the starter for 2019. With that said, out of all the quarterback competitions in Conference USA this offseason, this one may be the hardest to figure out (Old Dominion’s may be up there too). However, the fact that the quarterback spot is so wide open and that the competition should be very close is what makes the competition interesting and worth keeping up with. Out of each team in CUSA, The Blue Raiders have the least amount of experiencing returning at quarterback (Depending what happens with Chris Robison at FAU, that could change). While O’Hara might have the slight edge going into camp, it is really anybody’s guess as to who will start off under center. There is not much college film on any of the quarterbacks in the competition, besides Johnson from his juco, but let’s still briefly talk about each one.
O’Hara will be a redshirt sophomore this year. He was Stockstill’s back up last year and saw the majority of his playing time against FIU when Stockstill went down. However, thanks to Stockstill’s toughness and exceptional play under center, O’Hara didn’t see any time on the field after that. He only saw action in 2 games last year. When O’Hara played the majority of the games against FIU, he did enough to keep them in the game as they almost pulled off the victory. He showed the ability to run the ball and his athleticism gives the Blue Raiders a potential dual-threat at the quarterback position. Below is a clip from O’Hara scoring a touchdown against FIU.
The junior college transfer wasn’t heavily recruited out of the juco ranks as his only FBS offer was from Middle Tennessee, according to 247 sports. He is listed at 6 “5” 216 pounds and is a dual-threat quarterback. His last year at his junior college He threw for over 2,800 yards and rushed right under 800 yards. His big numbers at juco are impressive and he will attempt to translate that success in Conference USA. Below is a clip of Johnson demonstrating his strong arm.
Chase Cunningham and Chance Nolan
Cunningham is a sophomore and Nolan is a redshirt freshman. Cunningham attempted one pass last year and Nolan redshirted. They will be in the mix for the quarterback position and will be eager to get an opportunity to showcase their abilities. At the very least, they will provide depth at the position.
This competition is truly up for grabs with several guys in contention to start. My gut feeling tells me it will come down to O’Hara, based on his limited play last year and the fact he was the number 2 quarterback last year, and Johnson, who showed potential at his junior college. However, I could be completely wrong and it could be any one of these guys. At the time of writing this article, no quarterback has transferred that I know of so all four are in the mix. Whoever ends up taking the majority of snaps under center will do their best to imitate the success that Stockstill had over these past four years.