The 10 Most Important Group of Five Quarterbacks and What They’re Worth to the Spread
Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Jordan Love
- Kyle Miller identifies 10 quarterbacks at smaller schools worth at least 3 points to the spread for their teams.
- There's no easy formula for how many points a player is worth to the spread, but a handicapper must consider the talent of the starter and his backups.
Quarterback is the most important position on the football field, but it’s not easy to quantify just how important an individual player is to the spread, and what a team loses if that player misses time.
Of course, the talent level of the starting quarterback is the biggest factor in determining that, but you have to account for the talent of his potential replacement.
Some bigger schools have quarterback rooms that wouldn’t have much of a drop off if they were forced to go to a backup — see Ohio State’s 2014 national title team — but most Group of Five schools consider themselves lucky if they just have one premium signal caller.
Below are some of the most important Group of Five quarterbacks in the country, based on my power ratings.
QB’s Worth 7+ Points
Jordan Love, Utah State
Love had a monster 2018 season for the Aggies, throwing for more than 3,500 yards, a 32-6 touchdown-to-interception ratio, and a 64% completion percentage. He loses not only his top four receivers, but also highly successful offensive coordinator Daivid Yost.
Because of these losses, Utah State will be relying on Love even more heavily to keep their offense humming in 2019.
Mason Fine, North Texas
In 2019, Mason Fine is looking to put the finishing touches on what has been an amazing career at North Texas. Offensive coordinator Graham Harrell left for USC but the Mean Green brought in Eastern Washington’s Brodie Reeder. Behind Reeder’s prolific spread attack, Fine is one of the most productive and important quarterbacks in the entire country.
D’Eriq King, Houston
Houston’s top-20 offense in 2018 was powered by D’Eriq King’s 50 total touchdowns. Not only is King one of the most productive players in the country, he’s arguably the most important to his team.
New head coach Dana Holgerson is known for explosive offenses and he has the perfect man for the job in King.
Nathan Rourke, Ohio
Weeknight MACtion in 2019 is going to include one of my favorite players in the country. Nathan Rourke is an absolute gamer, scoring 38 total touchdowns with a 60% completion percentage in 2018.
The Bobcats will lean very heavily on Rourke in both the pass and run game. He’s the leading returning rusher for an Ohio team that loses its top two running backs, receivers, and three All-MAC offensive linemen.
Ohio will go as far as Nathan Rourke can take them in 2019.
Cole McDonald, Hawaii
Cole McDonald came out of nowhere and took the college football world by storm early in 2018.
He ended the season with 3,875 yards and a 36-10 TD-INT ratio for the Warriors and he has a chance to be one of the most productive players in the country in 2019.
Hawaii has to replace leading receiver John Ursua but the dynamic duo of Cedric Byrd II and JoJo Ward should step in nicely. I expect Hawaii to have another potent passing attack this year behind Cole McDonald.
Stephen “Buckshot” Calvert, Liberty
Liberty had a relatively successful debut season at the FBS level and they were lead by their quarterback, Buckshot Calvert.
Now with new head coach Hugh Freeze taking over, the Flames offense has a chance to take off.
Calvert just has to protect the ball much more than he did in 2018 when he threw 18 interceptions. The Flames just don’t have anyone that resembles a competent FBS quarterback behind Calvert so they’ll be relying heavily on Buckshot.
QBs Worth 3+ Points
Zac Thomas, Appalachian State
Appalachian State has one of the most consistent Group of Five programs in the country but when they had to break in a new quarterback prior to 2018, there was no guarantee it would be a smooth transition from four year starter Taylor Lamb.
Zac Thomas stepped up in and accounted for 31 total touchdowns Mountaineers in 2018 though. Now, he’s one of the most important players in college football, though he’ll have a new coach in Eliah Drinkwitz (most recently NC State’s offensive coordinator).
Zach Wilson, BYU
BYU has been searching for a competent quarterback since Tanner Mangum put up good numbers in 2015. Ironically enough, they seem to have found that quarterback when freshman Zach Wilson replaced Mangum mid-season in 2018.
I love what I saw from Wilson last year and I think he’s going to be the player to get BYU out of the offensive S&P+ cellar. If Wilson suffers a sophomore slump, BYU will continue to be an average Group of Five team with a solid defense.
Desmond Ridder, Cincinnati
Cincinnati was one of the most surprising teams of the 2018 season and freshman Desmond Ridder was a big reason why. They still have a very good defense but they’ll be reliant on Ridder to lead this offense.
He’s a nice dual-threat quarterback that completed 62% of his passes and ran for over 550 yards in 2018. Look for Ridder to take a step forward in his sophomore year.
Brady White, Memphis
Memphis has had some ultra-productive quarterbacks over the last few seasons and Brady White picked up right where Paxton Lynch and Riley Ferguson left off.
In 2019, Memphis will have to keep up its offensive success without 1,900-yard rusher Darrell Henderson and three very experienced offensive linemen.
I believe head coach Mike Norvell has a great system in place at Memphis but the Tigers will be relying on former 4-star recruit White to lead them to a New Year’s Six bowl game.