Super Early Look at the 2018 Opponent QB’s

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

Michigan

Out:

John O’Korn
Wilton Speight
Alex Malzone

Available:

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.

Ball State

Out:

Jack Milas

Available:

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.

Vanderbilt

Out:

Shawn Stankavage

Available:

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.

Wake Forest

Out:

John Wolford

Available:

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.

Stanford

Out:

Ryan Burns

Available:

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.

Virginia Tech

Out:

Available:

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.

Pitt

Out:

Max Browne
Thomas MacVittie
Ben DiNucci

Available:

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.

Navy

Out:

Available:

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.

Northwestern

Out:

Matt Alviti

Available:

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.

Florida State

Out:

Available:

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.

Syracuse

Out:

Zach Mahoney

Available:

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.

USC

Out:

Sam Darnold

Available:

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

Florida State
Stanford
Michigan (with Patterson)
Virginia Tech
Navy
USC
Syracuse
Michigan (without Patterson)
Northwestern (with Thorson)
Vanderbilt
Ball State
Northwestern (without Thorson)
Wake Forest
Pitt

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!

By |2018-05-09T22:25:37+00:00January 8th, 2018|Football|17 Comments

17
Leave a Reply

Please Login to comment
4 Comment threads
13 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
10 Comment authors
juiceboxIrishchamp23MikeyBspider-manMrTgon Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
nd09hls12
nd09hls12

Seems like USC is maybe a little overranked – is this for next year or for going forward as a general matter (like, how the QBs will do over the course of their career)? If for next year, I don’t know if they should be ahead of Syracuse or non-Patterson Michigan.

Also, where do you think ND fits in here? Basically, ahead of or behind Vanderbilt, no?

rudy8655
rudy8655

Anyone realize there was a NCG last night? This is literally the least interested I have been in that game since I can remember. And I’m all behind UCF anyway!

DrIck
DrIck

I was fully aware. Watched the ESPNews(?, 207 on DirecTV) feed that had all the coaches sitting around talking. Actually an interesting way to watch a game that you’re not fully vested in otherwise.

Irishchamp23
Irishchamp23

Like Drick I watched the coaches feed. It’s awesome to listen to them talk about the game.

And I’m finally to the point of realizing that we just can’t compete with Bama. No one can. Yea maybe a top talent at QB with a really good team around him (with some solid lines) can win one but Bama is just too talented. Every player who has lasted at least 3 years in the program has won a championship. And with the playoffs it’s gotten easier for Bama because there is a little more room for error during the regular season needing to be just in the top 4 (instead of top 2) and with a month to prepare for 2 games they are regularly going to fare really well.

There’s a 2nd class of programs (like Clemson, OSU, sometimes like USC or LSU depending on current recruiting – and Georgia is like that now clearly) who gather enough talent that they can compete with Bama but ND with most other teams are a third tier who can compete with that 2nd class and with some of their best teams with things going just right can win but it’s a longshot. These teams, including ND, in the third class can be a player on the national stage and win a lot of games against good teams but can’t compete with winning 5 natty’s in 10 years worth of talent every year.

This seems like it’ll be the case as long as Saban is around.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

Tough but true. Also, if this is depression Wednesday to get all the Bama dread out, Stewart Mandel from The Athletic also added a perspective that’s pretty scary:

“This was the most beatable of Saban’s championship teams. It suffered injuries. It wasn’t its usual dominant self on the lines of scrimmage. Saban did not trust his starting quarterback’s passing ability enough to let him rally the team in its biggest game of the season.

But the rest of the field failed to rise up and take advantage. Georgia obviously came awfully close, but in general, 2017 produced a relatively underwhelming cast of teams at the top. I don’t believe any of this year’s four Playoff teams were on the level of Alabama and Clemson in 2015 and ’16. But, Alabama’s most beatable team in several years was still better than anyone else’s.”

If this was Bama in a down year with adversity and no one could take them, for at least the next 2 years under Tua with an explosive offense make them almost an impossible out. Saban’s 66 years old but he doesn’t look or act like he’s slowing down anytime soon.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

Final AP rankings are out, Notre Dame finishes 11th..

Wins over: #12, 15, 18 and 23
Losses to: #2, 13, 20

Buy or sell a successful season if you knew the above (and only the above) in August? I’d say buy 11th all day long given the turmoil of 2016.

Shame ND finished behind Auburn and TCU, but oh well not the biggest deal. Probably worse that UCF only made it to 6th behind 4 blueblood teams with 2 losses. Since UCF hung with and beat Auburn, they probably could have been competitive in the playoff if they played the same. I don’t think much will come but obviously ND figures to be one of the biggest beneficiaries of a 6 or 8 team playoff, so hopefully wheels get turning about that inevitability.

MrTgon
MrTgon

Buy……all day…..every day……. and twice on Sunday

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

How to feel about this season completely depends on how you frame it. If you ask in August, given how things went last year, if you’d be happy with this season specifically given the personnel, the answer has to be yes. 10 wins, beat ranked SEC team in a bowl game, curb-stomped USC, etc.

A separate, and arguably more important question is whether one should be happy with this season in the context of the program. We’re at the point where a repeat performance of this past season would be a pleasant surprise, especially given what we’re going to lose both on the field and at DC. Is that really where we want to be going into the 9th season of a head coach? Similarly, if you were told at the beginning of the BK era that the season above would arguably best the second-best (definitely no worse than third-best) season of eight years, that the best season would not include a national title, and that BK would inarguably get a 9th season to coach, would you have taken that situation? I think the answer to that has to be no, and that doesn’t even include as a premise that you know about 4-8 or no BCS/NY6 bowl wins.

hooks orpik
hooks orpik

Yeah, I agree it is in how you frame it. The scenario you present doesn’t sound all that palatable, but the same situation could be presented a little sunnier as having 2 double-digit wins in the last 3 years and strong incoming recruiting class. Looking from that angle, it would probably make some less trigger happy to replace what the coach has established… Especially in light of how disorganized and bad the post-Lou era was at the start of BK (an important point you mentioned, IMO), being as there were only 2 double-digit winning seasons all together from 1994-2009.

Which probably leads into a separate question about just where the “context of the program” is, was and should be. Regardless though, the 2017 chapter probably has to be considered a positive one from what I can see, even if not a glorious one.

spider-man
spider-man

I’m not convinced that UCF would have been competitive in a playoff game. For their bowl, they went up against an Auburn team that probably did not care, as that game was a letdown after losing the SEC championship game.

DrIck
DrIck

Counterpoint – UCF was playing under a coach who chose to leave them and just got snubbed for the playoffs, essentially playing A) for noone and B) for nothing.

MikeyB
MikeyB

I would have paid an absurd amount of money to watch a UCF-Oklahoma matchup. I know there’s no way it could have topped the Oklahoma game we actually got, but I also was not expecting that much excitement.

nd09hls12
nd09hls12

Welp, going for continuity at DC – https://twitter.com/PeteThamel/status/950760436328226816

I think this was probably the way to go if couldn’t hire Grinch/Leonhard, as pickings appeared to have been slim. Let’s hope the continuity works. On on the other hand, no other major program would have two novice coordinators like we have set up. Not the best look.