While there are certainly more than ten teams with QB competitions going on in preseason practice, here are ten of the battles (with updates as available) that appear to be amongst the most competitive as well as the most interesting based upon the players, the programs, and often times transfers involved, with a bunch of stats thrown in to give some history and context. (Stats shown are from 2020 unless noted.)
- Tennessee – (UPDATE – Joe Milton was named the starter) Harrison Bailey returns to battle with Virginia Tech transfer Hendon Hooker and Michigan transfer Joe Milton, while Brian Maurer fell to fourth string and entered the transfer portal. Bailey was the second-leading passer on the team last season as they frequently rotated QBs, while Hooker was somewhat of a surprise transfer from Virginia Tech after leading them in passing last season (1339 yards) as well as rushing for 620 yards & 9 TDs. Like Hooker, Milton was Michigan’s leading passer in 2020 (1077 yards) but at times was replaced by Cade McNamara. Recent reports have Milton getting the most first team practice reps. Last season: Jarrett Guarantano (1112-6) transferred to Washington State, Brian Maurer (9-0), JT Shrout (315-4) transferred to Colorado, Harrison Bailey (578-4)
- Texas – (UPDATE – Hudson Card was named the starter) The battle for the Longhorns is a toss-up between Casey Thompson & Hudson Card, neither of whom has much experience, although Thompson threw for 225 yards last season backing up Sam Ehlinger and also got some snaps in 2019, while Card only threw three passes for 5 yards. Recent reports are that the QBs are still splitting practice reps. Last season: Sam Ehlinger (2566-26, 377-8) has moved on to the NFL
- Texas A&M – (UPDATE – Haynes King was named the starter) Haynes King and Zach Calzada are in a true competition which may go down to the wire. Last season King was 2/4 passing for 59 yards, while Calzada did not throw a pass in 2020 but had 133 yards passing in 2019. To oversimplify things, Calzada is thought of as having the bigger arm, while King is more mobile, as he had 6 carries for 43 yards last season. Last season: Kellen Mond (2282-19, 294-4) went to the NFL
- Florida State – (UPDATE – Travis and Milton have an OR on the first depth chart) Jordan Travis and UCF transfer McKenzie Milton are the top two. We all know the story of Milton returning from a devastating leg injury which occurred in 2018, and in his three seasons at UCF he passed for a total of 8683 yards and 72 TDs. In Milton’s absence Dillon Gabriel had standout seasons at UCF in 2019 and 2020, leading to Milton’s transfer upon his return to health. Jordan Travis was Florida State’s leading passer last season (1056 yards) as well as leading rusher (569 yards), which usually would seem to be a combination that would lead to starting, but he only completed 55% of his passes and had as many passing TDs as interceptions (6). This competition may come down to Milton’s leadership and overall health. Last season: Due to injuries and ineffectiveness James Blackman (366-2), Jordan Travis (1056-6), Chubba Purdy (219-2) and Tate Rodemaker (130-0) all got time, Blackman transferred to Arkansas St
- Arizona – (UPDATE – Gunner Cruz and Will Plummer will split reps in the first game) Washington State transfer Gunner Cruz, Will Plummer, and South Florida transfer Jordan McCloud are the names in the mix here. McCloud was a late summer arrival so it seems he may have some catching up to do, but he was USF’s leading passer last season with 1341 yards after passing for 1429 yards in 2019, so he has some experience. Plummer was Arizona’s second leading passer last season, but after the coaching change being the only returner may not mean as much. Cruz only threw 7 passes for Washington State last season and could likely tell he would have trouble surpassing Cougar QBs Jayden de Laura and Cammon Cooper. Last season: Grant Gunnell (625-6) transferred to Memphis, Will Plummer (388-0)
- Ohio State – (UPDATE – CJ Stroud was named the starter) CJ Stroud, Jack Miller, Kyle McCord have been the primary names in the QB conversation and then Quinn Ewers, a touted high school QB from Texas, skipped his senior season to enroll early and shake things up even more. Justin Fields was the only QB to throw a pass for the Buckeyes in 2020, so it’s a battle of talented but inexperienced passers. The most recent word is that Stroud may have taken the lead. You can’t help but think any QBs from this group who don’t see meaningful playing time could have their eyes on the transfer portal before long. Last season: Justin Fields (2100-22) is gone to the NFL
- Syracuse – (UPDATE – Tommy DeVito is QB1 on the depth chart) Tommy DeVito & Miss. State transfer Garrett Shrader appear to be the top two competing, with Jacobian Morgan and Dillon Markiewicz also returning. Recent reports said that both DeVito and Shrader can be expected to play. DeVito was the team’s second leading passer in 2020, while Shrader basically was not a fit for Mississippi State coach Mike Leach’s new offense and did not throw a pass last season. But in 2019 Shrader passed for 1170 yards and rushed for 587 yards at Miss State, so he brings a mobile dimension that DeVito does not. Last season: Tommy Devito (593-4), Rex Culpepper (1028-9) did not return, JaCobian Morgan (285-2)
- UNLV – (UPDATE – Rogers and Brumfield have an OR on the first depth chart) Justin Rogers and Doug Brumfield return from last year to compete with late-summer Miami transfer Tate Martell. Martell has a well-storied career having been at Ohio State and Miami prior to UNLV, but he has been dealing with a thumb injury which limited him to individual drills early in fall practice, which might have put him behind. Rogers (161 passing yards) and Brumfield (151 passing yards) had fairly similar lines last season as they backed up Max Gilliam. Martell’s talent and hype have many people wanting to see him as QB1, but between a late arrival and injury limitations the clock is ticking to the start of the season. Last season: Kenyon Oblad (2-0) transferred to Dixie State, Max Gilliam (786-5) has departed, Justin Rogers (161-1), Doug Brumfield (151-0)
- Purdue – (UPDATE – Jack Plummer has been named the starter) Jack Plummer, Aidan O’Connell & Austin Burton are all vying for the job. O’Connell and Plummer both played in 3 games for Purdue last season with only a 22 yard difference in passing yards between them (938 for Plummer to 916 for O’Connell), as O’Connell went down with a foot injury that he is now back from. Neither Plummer nor O’Connell are a threat with their legs. Austin Burton began his career at UCLA where he threw for 365 yards in 2019 but he did not throw a pass for Purdue in 2020. Last season: Jack Plummer (938-8), Aidan O’Connell (916-7)
- Utah – (UPDATE – Charlie Brewer has been named the starter) Baylor transfer Charlie Brewer was QB1 on the spring depth chart but is in competition with a now healthy Cameron Rising. Over four seasons at Baylor Brewer passed for 9700 yards and 65 TDs, while rushing for 1039 yards and 22 TDs. Rising only threw 6 passes in 2020 before suffering a shoulder injury that sidelined him. So this is the battle of a guy with almost 10000 career passing yards versus a guy with 45. Last season: Jake Bentley (882-6) transferred to South Alabama, Cameron Rising (45-0), Drew Lisk (152-0)
Bonus – a battle that was decided the weekend before this was initially published:
Kentucky – (UPDATE – Will Levis was named the starter and Joey Gatewood entered the transfer portal) Joey Gatewood, Penn State transfer Will Levis and Beau Allen are in the mix as Kentucky has hired a new Offensive Coordinator and is expected to open up the passing game. Gatewood, a former Auburn transfer, attempted 35 passes last season as Terry Wilson’s backup, while Allen got mop-up duty with 7 passes thrown in 2020. Will Levis transferred after two seasons at Penn State where he actually had more rushing attempts (133/473) than passing attempts (102/644), so he brings mobility. Last season: Terry Wilson (1187-7) transferred to New Mexico, Joey Gatewood (109-0)
I take a look at some key stats & fantasy takeaways that stood out from the 9 FBS teams that played last weekend. The “Stat to Know” from each team is bolded, as well as players who are mentioned.
It should be noted that a number of these games were blowouts of mismatched teams where starters didn’t play full games, one game was against a lower division team, and also that just one game is a small sample size to make any grand observations, but it’s what we’ve got so far, so here we go…
Fantasy Takeaways from Week Zero (teams listed in alphabetical order):
Fresno State – QB Jake Haener and the Bulldog passing offense could do anything they wanted against UConn, as Haener threw for 20/26-331-3 before leaving the game with cramping issues in the third quarter. The passes were really spread around, with only WR Erik Brooks having more than 3 catches (5/61-0).
Hawaii – Not a lot to like here as Hawaii lost 44-10 to UCLA. QB Chevan Cordeiro, usually considered a dual-threat, had 220-1 passing but was limited to 9/11-0 on the ground. No Hawaii player rushed for more than 20 yards (RB Dae Dae Hunter, 7/20-0). Hunter also led the team with 7 receptions, but for only 19 yards with a lot of dumpoffs. A player who continues to disappoint is WR Jared Smart (1/9-0). In 2019 Smart caught 87/1129-5, but in 2020 in nine games he pulled in 36/320-1. I’d like to see him return to 2019 levels but not encouraged so far.
Illinois – QB Brandon Peters only threw four passes before getting injured, but Rutgers transfer QB Art Sitkowski had a really efficient day, 12/15-124-2. The surprise of the day was that with RB Chase Brown limited, RB Mike Epstein was the leading rusher with 16/75-1, a 4.7 avg. Assuming Brown returns to full-speed soon I’m not sure if this becomes more of a committee approach, especially if the Peters injury causes him to miss time and the ground game becomes even more of a focus.
Nebraska – QB Adrian Martinez ended up totaling decent numbers with 232-1 passing and 17/111-1 rushing, but the 16/32 passing is an ugly percentage. WR Oliver Martin (6/103-1) was the only player with more than 40 yards receiving. But to me the key stat was that other than Martinez, no player rushed for more than 33 yards (RB Gabe Ervin – 12/33-0), and no RB averaged better than 3.3 yards per carry. Nebraska has a problem.
New Mexico State – As a team they were 9/33 passing for 89 yards and 0 TDs, 2.7 yards an attempt. QB Jonah Johnson was 8/24-82 while QB Weston Eget put up 1/9-7. As a team rushing they were a collective 34/101-0, a 3.0 average. No player had more than 37 yards rushing (RB Juwaun Price) or 31 yards receiving (Missouri transfer WR Dominic Gicinto).
San Jose State – Playing against FCS Southern Utah, QB Nick Starkel had his way throwing for 16/27-394-4. Interestingly, no player had more than 3 receptions, with WR Charles Ross (3/77-1) and TE Derrick Deese (3/72-1) leading the way. Three other players also had 50+ yards receiving.
UCLA – Hawaii couldn’t stop the UCLA rushing attack, as RB Brittain Brown put up 13/78-1, while Michigan transfer RB Zach Charbonnet ran for 6/106-3, a huge 17.7 average. Only one UCLA player had more than 21 yards receiving – RB Kazmeir Allen with 2/47-1 receiving. Bruin WRs totaled only 5 catches for 38 yards, which makes me a little hesitant to play any of their WRs until I see some more game action.
UConn – QB Jack Zergiotis got the start but UConn was overmatched and Zergiotis threw for 12/24-61-0, an awful 2.5 yards per attempt. The shared backfield approach was somewhat of a surprise with RB Kevin Mensah (11/31-0), and RB Nathan Carter (8/10-0). In 2019 Mensah had 226 carries in 12 games, an 18.8 carries/game average. Whether that is somewhat of a philosophy change to share carries or was a byproduct of nothing working Saturday is to be seen.
UTEP – WR Jacob Cowing was the standout, hauling in 5/158-1, which was 63% of the team’s 249 passing yards. New Mexico State couldn’t slow UTEP down, as UTEP had three different players with 50+ yards rushing – RB Deion Hankins (11/50-1), Ronald Awatt (11/74-1) and Quardraiz Wadley (6/51-0), although Wadley’s yards came in mopup time.
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Sunday was a quieter news day but did feature the naming of two starting QBs. Monday is sure to be busy with many teams expected to announce depth charts prior to their week 1 games.
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Due to the limited slate of games, there will not be a separate injury update post from this weekend, players suffering possible injuries on Saturday are included in the updates below (these mentions are not necessarily confirmation of injuries but at minimum are situations to monitor). Future weekends will be . . .
The daily player update post, injury databases, depth charts and pregame posts moved to a premium content level in mid-August, to become a subscriber click Subscribe.
See the highlights of updates to potentially be watching for today including starting QB battles, players statuses to note, and other key position battles.
A few reminders:
- The information provided here is as accurate as possible leading . . .
Announcing a transfer destination was Keith Williams (Cincinnati to Western Kentucky), Williams was arguably the most high-profile transfer remaining in the portal, and it feels like WKU brought him in fairly quietly. Also announcing were Alfred Hollins (Oregon State to UTEP) and Abdou Tsimbila (Penn State to Fordham).
Entering the transfer portal was Jackson Harlan (Western Kentucky, 0.7 ppg).
(Injuries & Updates in the first section, Transfers down below.)
Injuries and Updates from Aug 25-27:
- Wabissa Bede, Virginia Tech – is not expected to return this season, had considered playing one more season, started all 22 games in ’20-21 averaging 3.9 ppg
- Francis Okoro, Saint Louis – Oregon transfer fully cleared for the season (shoulder, ankle)
- Arashma Parks, Temple – has not yet been fully cleared (shoulder)
Transfer Updates from Aug 25-27:
- Jackson Harlan, Western Kentucky – enters portal – 0.7 ppg, transferred to Lindsey Wilson College
- Alfred Hollins, Oregon State – transfers to UTEP – 3.7 ppg
- Abdou Tsimbila, Penn State – transfers to Fordham – 1.1 ppg
- Keith Williams, Cincinnati – transfers to Western Kentucky – 14.3 ppg
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The Core Four: four key updates from Friday
- Oregon QB Anthony Brown was officially named the starter on Friday. Brown went into the fall as QB1 and nothing happened to change that over the course of fall practice as . . .
Following are the fantasy-relevant starting depth charts released by the FBS teams playing Week Zero (as available), along with any notes and last year’s stats.
- Starters on depth chart are listed as well as some reserves
- Stats listed are from 2020 (unless noted)
- If a team has not released a depth chart the ones listed are a projected depth chart (noted)
Week Zero FBS Teams (in alphabetical order):
Fresno State depth chart (official):
- QB: Jake Haener (150/232-2021-14), QB2: Logan Fife
- RB: Ronnie Rivers (100/507-7), RB2: Jordan Mims (28/145-1)
Following are the fantasy-relevant starting depth charts released by the teams (when available), along with any notes and last year’s stats, for Independent FBS teams leading up to their FIRST game of the season.
- Starters on depth chart are listed, for full charts see posts on twitter as available
- Post will be continually updated prior to team’s first games as their depth charts are updated
- Stats listed are from 2020 (unless noted)
- If a team has not yet released a depth chart the ones listed are a predicted depth chart including players potentially in the mix to start or be in the rotation
Independent Teams (in alphabetical order):
Army depth chart (official):
- QB: Christian Anderson (20/47-215-1, 94/416-4) OR Tyhier Tyler (2/4-53-0, 139/578-5)
- FB: Tyson Riley (13/59-0) FB2: Anthony Adkins (51/302-4)
- RB-A: Tyrell Robinson (60/424-0), RB2: AJ Howard (15/75-0)
- RB-B: Brandon Walters (5/22-0) RB2: Braheam Murphy (7/38-1)
- WRs: Reikan Donaldson (4/57-1), Sean Eckert
- TE: Josh Lingenfelter TE2: Chris Cameron (3/82-0)