Down for the Count: The Most-Sacked Quarterbacks in College Football
Ten College Quarterbacks Leading the Nation in Sacks
The quarterback is a mythic figure. He’s the face of the football team (and often a pretty face, at that). In high school, he’s the one who dates the captain of the cheerleading team. In the pros, he’s the one who gets the Subway contract and the supermodel girlfriend – or, at the very least, the reality starlet baby mama.
Despite the hype and lore surrounding the position, playing quarterback isn’t always as glamorous as Hollywood would have us think.
While they often have longer playing careers because there’s less wear and tear on them than, say, a running back, QBs still take their share of hard hits.
The offensive line’s job is to protect the quarterback so he can do his job, but it doesn’t always work as planned, and when quarterbacks are under a lot of pressure, it often affects their ability to execute.
Five of the quarterbacks on this list are playing for teams with losing records. The other five have still managed to lead their teams to winning records at this point, despite routinely taking a beating.
Despite his mobility, Florida’s Jeff Driskel is currently the tenth-most sacked quarterback in the country, but the Gators are having a strong season and debuted at second in the BCS rankings.
Likewise, UCLA’s Brett Hundley, who’s been sacked 22 times, has thrown more touchdowns (14) than any Bruins’ QB since Drew Olson in 2005.
Some of the quarterbacks made the list because they’re routinely dropped way too many times every time they take the field. Others, like San Jose State’s David Fales, wouldn’t even be in the top ten were it not for rash of sacks in one or two rough games.
Four of the top ten most-sacked quarterbacks play in the Pac-12 – not a great sign for the conference’s offenses. (A fifth, San Diego State’s Ryan Katz, played in the Pac-12 last season.)
As of week nine, the top ten most-sacked quarterbacks in the nation all have been dropped more than twenty times already this season.
Here's a look at the quarterbacks most likely to end up on their backsides on the turf.
Brett Hundley, UCLA
Hundley is in a three-way tie for eighth overall with 21 sacks. Even though he's been dropped so many times, the redshirt freshman still only has one game with negative rushing yards - UCLA's 37-6 win over Houston.
While Hundley's sacks didn't have a major impact in that game, the pressure seemed to get to him in the Bruins' loss to Cal, when he was dropped a season-high six times.
His athleticism and ability to run for big gains has been a huge factor in UCLA's success despite a lack of protection. He's thrown for 14 touchdowns and rushed for five more, and he rushed for more than fifty yards in wins over Rice, Nebraska, and Utah.
Jeff Driskel, Florida
Driskel is another frequently sacked QB who can make big plays when he stays on his feet. Recruited back when Urban Meyer and Tim Tebow were the darlings of Gainesville, Driskel already broke Tebow's single-game rushing record for a Florida quarterback in the win over Vanderbilt. Driskel ran for 177 yards on just 11 carries to overturn Tebow's record of 166 yards on 27 carries.
When Driskel does pass, he's efficient. His 929 passing yards are the second-fewest among quarterbacks with more than 15 sacks, but he also has eight passing touchdowns and just one interception, plus 463 rushing yards with four touchdowns.
Keith Price, Washington
Price set a school record last season for touchdowns (33) and single-season completion percentage. This year he hasn't been nearly as sharp. He has eight touchdowns and eight interceptions; seven of the interceptions came in the last three games, against formidable Pac-12 opponents Oregon, USC, and Arizona.
Price is averaging just 5.6 yards per attempt, the fewest among the most-sacked quarterbacks. He has the ability to be one of the better quarterbacks in the conference, if not the country, but he hasn't gotten adequate protection, and his trust issues with his receivers, his coaches, and himself, have been well-documented.
Chandler Whitmer, UConn
The junior college transfer is having a rougher transition than he planned. Whitmer has thrown touchdown passes in just half of the team's eight games, and he has more interceptions (11) than touchdowns (7). More than half his sacks came in two games, when he was sacked six times each against Western Michigan and Temple.
The Huskies are just 3-5 overall, with no conference wins, but that's not all on Whitmer. He's had no help from his offensive line, which surrendered 22 sacks, or the run game, which is currently 112th out of 120.
Andrew Manley, New Mexico State
The sophomore from Hawaii missed most of 2011 with a torn ACL, and unfortunately, his 2012 season isn't making up for it. The Aggies are 1-6, and Manley has the worst completion percentage among the ten most-sacked quarterbacks (54.6%). He's thrown 12 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, and he's averaging more than 270 yards per game, but as CBSSports.com points out, Manley "gets no help from his offensive line and even less from his defense."
David Fales, San Jose State
Fales makes the list by virtue of one rough game against Utah State, when he was sacked thirteen times, more than doubling his total for the season. (He'd only been dropped nine times before that game.) Despite the astronomical sack numbers in that game, Fales still threw for 467 yards and three touchdowns in the 49-27 loss.
Because the protection breakdown hasn't been prevalent throughout the season, Fales is having the best year of any of the quarterbacks on this list. He's thrown 2,146 yards, is completing 74% of his passes, and is averaging 8.9 yards per pass. The community college transfer has 15 touchdowns and just three interceptions on the season for the 5-2 Spartans.
Ryan Katz, San Diego State
Katz can't catch a break. Or, well, he can, and that's the problem. The former Oregon State starter transferred to SDSU, but the senior's career is over after he broke his ankle trying to escape a sack in the first half of last weekend's game against Nevada.
Sacks have been an issue for Katz throughout his career. With the Beavers back in 2010, he was sacked 33 times; in just half a season with the Aztecs, he had 23 sacks. Still, his numbers were relatively unaffected. In both seasons, he completed 60% of his passes, and he finished this year with 1348 yards, 13 touchdowns and four interceptions.
Perry Hills, Maryland
Hills, like Katz, is done for the year with an injury after he tore his ACL last weekend. He was sacked 24 times in the first half of the season, partly because of pressure, and partly because he was a freshman who didn't always get rid of the ball in time. His numbers weren't fantastic - eight touchdowns, seven interceptions - but he led the Terps to a 4-2 overall record, which is two more wins than they had in all of 2011.
Jordan Webb, Colorado
The senior transfer from Kansas has the same number of touchdowns and interceptions this season as Maryland's true freshman - eight TDs, seven INTs. Last week, the USC Trojans sacked Webb five times, and one of those hits led to a Webb fumble at the five-yard line.
Despite the obvious pressure on the quarterback, Colorado head coach Jon Embree and offensive lineman David Bakhtiari told the Daily Camera Monday they thought the offensive line was finally starting to come together.
When your starting quarterback has been sacked 30 times in half a season, it's probably past time for that happen.
Zach Maynard, Cal
Before the season, many thought Maynard, with a full season as a starter under his belt, would finally get into a rhythm. Instead, he got sacked 33 times and earned a new nickname courtesy of The Daily Californian.
"Sack Maynard" does have a ring to it.
The Bears are having a terrible season that might end up being Jeff Tedford's last as the head coach, but as the school paper pointed out, the offensive line has been "the culprit of Cal's woes."
In the Big Game against Stanford, Maynard was sacked four times, but that's nothing compared to what he's been through already this season. He was sacked six times at Ohio State, seven against Arizona State for a loss of more than fifty yards, and nine times by USC.
Sack Maynard, indeed.