With the 2018 schedule gone is Temple, Georgia, Boston College, Michigan State, Miami (OH), North Carolina, NC State, and Miami replaced by Michigan, Ball State, Vanderbilt, Virginia Tech, Pitt, Northwestern, and Florida State. The usual suspects in USC, Navy, and Stanford remain.
In short, there are a lot of new faces at quarterback next fall. Here’s an early, early look at where the Notre Dame opponents stand as they march towards spring football.
BOLD denotes returning starter
Kevin Doyle, FR
Joe Milton, FR
Dylan McCaffrey, RS FR
Brandon Peters, RS SO
Shea Patterson, JR
Basing things off apparent coaching hype to production there’s no bigger dumpster fire than the Michigan quarterback situation which is coming off both the 11th most passing yards and 11th quarterback rating this past fall–among Big Ten teams. Opening day starter (and 2016 starter) Wilton Speight went down in late September with a season-ending injury and will grad transfer this off-season. Ditto for Malzone, but he never played. Former Houston transfer O’Korn ended up playing the most this past year and was pretty awful with 2 TD’s and 6 interceptions on 157 attempts.
Peters offered some hope briefly late in the season in his career debut then dropped a stink bomb in the bowl game, opening the door to an off-season competition which could feature Ole Miss transfer and former No. 1 overall pro-style quarterback Shea Patterson who is waiting on a waiver from the good ol’ NCAA. If he plays it immediately changes Michigan’s outlook for 2018.
Rising freshman Dylan McCaffrey (younger brother to Christian) was a mid 4-star recruit but there are whispers of being overrated in his young career. For now, a pair of quarterbacks are in the Wolverines class including low 4-star Joe Milton who is on campus already and is not in the typical Harbaugh mold–he’s very, very athletic and won’t just sit in the pocket. Middle of the road 3-star Kevin Doyle is committed but didn’t sign early, you can imagine he might get ultimately bumped out of the class in the end.
John Paddock, FR
Zack Blair, RS SO
Drew Plitt, RS SO
Riley Neal, SR
Ball State were truly awful this past year, by all metrics among the 10 worst programs in the country. However, in their defense quarterback Riley Neal tore up his knee in game 3 after starting since he was a freshman and the Cardinals had absolutely zero answers to combat his absence.
Senior Jack Milas was legitimately the worst quarterback in the country (207 attempts, 53.1% accuracy, 4.7 YPA, 2 TD, 8 INT) so there’s only room for improvement for 2018.
Neal should be fully healthy when they meet Notre Dame and he’s had some good moments in his career so far, plus he’s tall and fairly athletic. The Cardinals should move up a little bit in the MAC with him behind center.
Allan Walters, FR
Deuce Wallace, RS SO
Kyle Shurmur, SR
This will be the fourth year of starting for Shurmur, son of Minnesota offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. He’s a big dude (6’4″ 227 pounds) but is pretty immobile with -246 rushing yards in 30 career games.
He improved quite a bit as a junior but had some real peaks and valleys. Eight of his 10 picks game in 3 losses, for example. Still, his completions went up a few percent, YPA went up by a yard, and he threw for 50 more yards per game in 2017. Shurmur should be a halfway decent quarterback to face early in the season.
Sam Hartman, FR
Tayvon Bowers, RS FR
Jamie Newman, RS SO
Kendall Hinton, RS JR
Prior to 2017 the loss of Wolford wouldn’t have been a big deal but he leaves behind a season where he was comfortably the highest rated passer in the ACC and 10th overall nationally. He was the biggest reason the Demon Deacons made a 15-point jump in scoring average this past year.
Kendall Hinton should get first crack at the job having thrown 243 passes in his career. However, 178 of those came back in 2015 during his freshman year and he’s spent the past 2 years injured or remaining more of a running threat without operating the full playbook. Each of the remaining younger quarterbacks are all middle-of-the-road 3-star prospects.
Jack West, FR
Davis Mills, RS FR
K.J. Costello, RS SO
Keller Chryst, 5th SR
The career of Ryan Burns is over after he came back for a 5th year only to play minimally this past fall. The Cardinal went to Keller Chryst to start 2017 but he eventually gave way to K.J. Costello. No word yet on if Chryst will be coming back for his final year of eligibility.
Costello looks like he’ll be the entrenched starter for the long-term with a pretty decent first year on the field (7.5 YPA, 14 TD, 4 INT) although he’s far from a proven commodity. He’ll probably have a decent-sized leash but not super long with the No. 1 pro-style quarterback and 5-star Davis Mills coming off a redshirt.
Quincy Patterson, FR
Hendon Hooker, RS FR
Josh Jackson, RS SO
Ryan Willis, RS JR
A.J. Bush, 5th SR
When former JUCO transfer Jerod Evans left Blacksburg it was a bit of a curious decision (he went undrafted) and you’d figure the Hokies would take a big step back on offense. Early in 2017, Josh Jackson looked like he was on his way to freshman All-American status (11 TD, 1 INT through his first 4 games) then finished the remainder of the year with a far more pedestrian 9 touchdowns and 8 interceptions.
Jackson was an average ACC quarterback overall but will come back with a lot of young weapons around him in 2018. He’s an intriguing guy who could make a huge jump and will be on a lot of watch lists because the media loves freshmen who hold their own.
Nick Patti, FR
Kenny Pickett, SO
Ricky Towne, RS JR
Here’s a fun depth chart! Pitt went with USC grad transfer Max Browne to start 2017, then benched him, then went back to him, only to see his career end after a shoulder injury. The Panthers turned to Ben DiNucci for the remainder of the season, until the final 2 games in which he was benched for freshman Kenny Pickett. Now, Browne’s out of eligibility and DiNucci (along with backup MacVittie) are transferring out of town.
Pitt did sign another former USC quarterback last month in JUCO transfer Ricky Towne. The former high 4-star prospect will be entering his 4th school in 4 years after leaving Los Angeles, Arkansas, and Ventura College.
Zach Abey, SR
Malcolm Perry, JR
Garrett Lewis, SR
Navy used three quarterbacks this past season and they all return next fall. Actually, Perry is more of a slotback but they used him at quarterback for a bit when Abey was injured. Malcom and Abey combined for over 2,600 rushing yards and 30 touchdowns in 2017.
The Middies are in a great position at quarterback before we even meet the next crop of young players.
Jason Whittaker, FR
Andrew Marty, RS FR
Aidan Smith, RS SO
T.J. Green, RS SO
Clayton Thorson, RS JR
Northwestern is coming off a 10-3 season but suffered a huge blow to their 2018 campaign when Clayton Thorson tore his ACL on a trick play during their bowl game. Conceivably, he could be healthy by the time the Wildcats play the Irish, if not the door is open to a huge quarterback competition.
Former Notre Dame recruiting target Matt Alviti finished up the bowl game win but moves on as his eligibility expired.
Bailey Hockman, RS FR
James Blackman, SO
Deondre Francois, RS JR
J.J. Cosentino, 5th SR
The Seminoles may have a small controversy on their hands this spring following the season-ending injury to Deondre Francois back in September. Or at least, they’ll have to go through a bit of a competition after James Blackman got a full season of reps and played his best during Florida State’s bowl game.
Francois was quite good in 2016 so absent something crazy happening under the new Willie Taggart regime you’d think he’ll return to the starting position.
Long-time backup Cosentino hasn’t made anything public yet but could take a 5th-year somewhere else. As of now, the Seminoles don’t have a quarterback in their current 2018 recruiting class.
Chance Amie, FR
Tommy Devito, RS FR
Rex Culpepper, RS SO
Eric Dungey, SR
Assuming he can stay healthy rising senior Eric Dungey will be heading into his 4th year as starting quarterback at Syracuse. He’s missed 10 games over the last 3 years, and hasn’t finished any of his first 3 campaigns most recently going down with a foot injury and having surgery in late November.
Dungey has been quite frisky throughout his career, throwing for 363 yards and a pair of scores on 51 attempts against Notre Dame back in 2016.
JT Daniels, FR
Jack Sears, RS FR
Matt Fink, RS SO
With Sam Darnold jumping early to the NFL after a couple years of starting the Trojans will be starting over. We saw Matt Fink play against the Irish this past year when Darnold left the game with injury but he is a 3-star and was in a pre-season battle with high 4-star freshman Jack Sears this past year.
Most are expecting incoming freshman 5-star JT Daniels to be a factor if not win the starting job outright. The Mater Dei product reclassified late in the cycle and is the No. 2 overall pro-style quarterback in the current Composite rankings.
Opponent QB Rankings
Michigan (with Patterson)
Michigan (without Patterson)
Northwestern (with Thorson)
Northwestern (without Thorson)
It’s pretty interesting that right now there are only 2 quarterbacks (Costello & Abey) who Notre Dame faced last year. Everyone is new from last year’s fall slate. The exception is Syracuse’s Dungey who started against the Irish but not in consecutive years.
Snap judgement–since Sam Darnold kind of flopped as a sophomore and certainly didn’t play well against Notre Dame–the 2018 schedule looks far more difficult for quarterbacks. Especially with the possibility of Shea Patterson being eligible at Michigan. The top half of the schedule is really quite strong at this position for Irish opponents. Great news for a new defensive coordinator!