Pac-12 Football: The Year of the Quarterback Part 3
Part 3 of my quarterback grouping includes two quarterbacks who will throw the ball more than Cesar Millan, the dog whisperer, on an animal planet fetch marathon. The other quarterback who checks into the third group is one of two newcomers to the conference. Connor Halliday and Jared Goff are the ones who will need a heavy dose of ice for their right arms after each game and Cyler Miles is the talented but inexperienced quarterback.
Washington State’s Halliday threw for 4,597 yards last season, which is good enough for second all-time in the conference record books. The air-raid offense Mike Leach brought to Pullman is known for giving QBs gaudy numbers. Halliday threw a whopping 714 passes last season. That’s 111 more passes than the runner up, Sean Mannion. Even more incredible, in one game he threw it an NCAA record 89 times against the Oregon Ducks.
I am predicting Halliday to post even bigger numbers in the yard and touchdown departments, while reducing his interceptions and increasing his team’s win total in 2014. Past Leach quarterbacks have put up gaudy stats in his offense, but few have been three-year starters like Halliday. The last time Leach returned a quarterback with this much experience, Graham Harrell finished fourth in the Heisman voting in 2008. Before Leach got to Pullman, when he was busy plotting ways to murder Craig James (joke!), Halliday was in high school breaking former Cougar great and Super Bowl MVP Mark Rypien’s records.
Washington’s projected 2014 starter Miles sat behind the incredibly talented Keith Price last season, but when called upon, Miles delivered. His lone start came on the road against Oregon State where he went 15-of-24 and led the Huskies to victory. Miles also ran for a 61-yard scamper in mop-up duty against Idaho State.
Miles’ biggest benefit is that he is being coached by one of the best in the country in Chris Peterson. If Peterson can turn Kellen Moore and his noodle arm into the best college football QB of all-time, imagine what he can do with a major prospect like Miles. The No. 2 dual threat QB (behind only Jameis Winston) in the class of 2012, according to rivals.com, won two state titles in Colorado. To top off his incredible high school career, he was the co-MVP of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Under Peterson’s coaching, Miles will turn into a star in the future.
Jared Goff from California also put up huge stats as a true freshman in 2013, breaking the Cal single-season record by throwing for 3,503 yards, but his numbers are misleading. Sonny Dykes is a disciple to Leach and runs the exact same air-raid offense with Goff throwing the ball 531 times. The numbers are also skewed by the fact that Cal was constantly losing on the scoreboard. Losing teams need to throw more to catch up on the scoreboard and Cal struggled all season to catch up as they lost every conference game they played in.
I think Dykes is the worst coach in the conference, so it will be interesting to see how Goff progresses from his impressive freshman campaign. Those of you that watched The Pac-12 Network’s show “The Drive” saw Dykes repeatedly before each game tell his team to “find a way to win.” I wonder if he tells Goff before every play to “find a way to complete this pass?” In his first ever game, Goff threw the ball 64 times as an 18 year old against Northwestern. When I was a freshman in college, I could barely wake up in time for my 10:30 AM class. I couldn’t imagine being asked to throw a football 64 times fresh out of high school.
The crazy amount of talented QBs in the conference is evident by the fact that the Pac-12’s seventh best quarterback (according to me), finished third in the entire nation in passing yards last season with 4,597. Halliday, Miles and Goff — in that order — are in my third group of quarterbacks in this series. All will have plenty of opportunities to prove they should be higher in 2014.