Ranking the opponents: Quarterbacks

Ranking the opponents: Quarterbacks


Ranking the opponents: Quarterbacks


By Will Vandervort.

Today we begin our series on the best players Clemson will face this fall. With matchups against Louisville, Miami, Notre Dame, Florida State, South Carolina and Georgia Tech on the schedule the Tigers face one of the toughest slates in the country.

So who are some of the best players the Tigers will see? Today we begin the series by examining the quarterbacks.

Justin Thomas, Georgia Tech

How he did last season? Thomas was the reason the Yellow Jackets made it the ACC Championship Game and then defeated Mississippi State in the Orange Bowl. He threw for 1,719 yards in Paul Johnson’s option offense with 18 touchdown passes to six interceptions. He also ran for another 1,086 yards and scored eight touchdowns.

Why is he ranked here? With Thomas running the show, he gives Johnson’s offense the best chance to have success against Brent Venables defense. He gives Johnson a capable thrower to make defenses have to respect the passing game just enough to keep them from crowding the line.

Brad Kaaya, Miami

How he did last season? He was the ACC Rookie of the Year in 2014. Kaaya threw for 3,198 yards and 26 touchdowns and just 12 interceptions.

Why is he ranked here? He might be the second best pure quarterback in the ACC behind Deshaun Watson. He is pretty accurate and can really spin the football. There is a ton of potential if the Hurricanes use him the right way.

Everett Golson, Florida State

How he did last season? Golson was a Heisman Trophy candidate before all the late-season turnover issues. Even with all the turnovers, and being benched, he finished the season at Notre Dame with 3,445 yards and 29 touchdowns. He threw 14 interceptions and lost eight fumbles.

Why is he ranked here? He is still a very talented player who instantly lifts up the talent level at quarterback for the Seminoles. When Golson plays well, he is as talented as any quarterback in the country. The question is trying to find some consistency.

Jacoby Brissett, NC State

How he did last season? He threw for 2,606 yards and rushed for 529 more. He totaled 26 touchdowns and threw only five interceptions.

Why is he ranked here? He is a really good player that can make some plays with his legs when things break down. He also is not too shabby of a passer, either.

Reggie Bonnafon & Tyler Ferguson, Louisville

How he did last season? Bonnafon came in for Will Gardner after he went down with an injury and threw for 864 yards and five touchdowns, but he also threw four interceptions. Ferguson came in for an injured Bonnafon in the Kentucky and led his team to a dramatic 44-40 victory over the Wildcats.

Why they are ranked here? Petrino always does a good job with his quarterbacks, which is why the Cardinals won nine games last year despite all the injuries at the position. No matter who is the starter Louisville will be productive at quarterback.

Malik Zaire, Notre Dame

How he did last season? Came in and led the Irish to a 31-28 Music City Bowl victory over LSU.

Why is he ranked here? Zaire brings a lot of different elements to the quarterback position. Playing against LSU in the Music City Bowl and coming from behind to win the game proves he can handle the pressure of big games.

Taylor Lamb, App State

How he did last season? Lamb started the last 10 games of the season and completed 61.4 percent of his passes for 2,381 yards and 17 touchdowns to go with nine interceptions.

Why is he ranked here? He guided the Mountaineers to six straight victories to close the season.

Terrel Hunt, Syracuse

How he did last season? He threw for 983 yards and a touchdown before being lost for the season after fracturing his fibula.

Why is he ranked here? He has started 15 games in his career and is the Orange’s best passing and rushing threat on the team.

Justin Wolford, Wake Forest

How he did last season? He threw for 2,037 yards and 12 touchdowns, but he also tossed 14 interceptions.

Why is he ranked here? Wake Forest had the worse offense in the ACC last year, but after throwing 10 interceptions in the first five games, he tossed just four of the final seven games of the season and the offense began to show signs of improvement.

Darius Wade, Boston College

How he did last season? He saw limited action last year and completed just 3-of-8 passes for 23 yards.

Why is he ranked here? He has not played, though he does bring a similar dual threat aspect to the offense quarterback Tyler Murphy had last season.

Connor Mitch, South Carolina

How he did last season? He connected on 2-of-6 passes for 19 yards in limited duty.

Why is he ranked here? He played in just two games and both were in mop-up action.

Michael Weimer & Evan Jacks, Wofford

How they did last season? Weimer played in 10 games and completed 51.9 percent of his passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns and then ran for another 175 more and four scores. Jacks played in six games and threw for 399 yards and three touchdowns, while running for another 450 yards and five touchdowns.

Why they are ranked here? They both go into the season with a chance to be the starting quarterback in Wofford’s triple-option attack.


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