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QB Debate: Carr vs. Fales

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Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images
Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images

When Fresno State quarterback Derek Carr chose not to enter this year’s NFL draft and instead return to the Bulldogs for the 2013 season, it appeared to be a good bet that he was a favorite to win the Mountain West Conference’s Offensive Player of the Year award for the second year in a row.

Two new teams, San Jose State and Utah State, moved to the MWC from the Western Athletic Conference this offseason. With SJSU quarterback David Fales in the MWC this season, one could argue that Carr may no longer be the conference’s best quarterback.

The case for Carr

Carr threw 37 touchdown passes last season, a total surpassed only by Texas Tech’s Seth Doege and West Virginia’s Geno Smith in the NCAA’s Football Bowl Subdivision. Only Boise State’s Kellen Moore has thrown for more touchdown passes in a single season (43 in 2011) in MWC history.

Carr also broke an MWC single-season record by passing for 4,104 yards. He set another MWC record by passing for over 400 yards in three different games.

Although Fresno State lost to Boise State 20-10 last season, Carr threw a touchdown pass to Davante Adams in that game. Boise State hadn’t surrendered a touchdown pass in its five previous games last season.

Carr struggled against SMU’s defense in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl. He threw two interceptions and was sacked seven times as the Bulldogs lost 43-10. Later it was revealed that Carr played that game with a sports hernia, which since has been surgically repaired.

Carr will need to find someone to fill the void left in the Bulldogs’ running game with the departure of Robbie Rouse, who gained 1,490 yards last season. Fresno State’s next best rusher was Marteze Waller, who had 174 yards last season.

The case for Fales

Fales helped bring San Jose State’s football team back into national prominence. After a redshirt season at Nevada and two seasons at Monterey Peninsula College, Fales transferred to SJSU for the 2012 season. All the Spartans did last season was tie the school record for most wins (11), win its first bowl game since 2006 and earn its first national ranking since 1975.

Fales led the nation in completion percentage by completing 72.5 percent of his passes last season. He passed for 4,193 yards and 33 touchdowns (both school records) with only nine interceptions.

In the postseason, Fales completed 33 of 43 passes with two touchdowns and no interceptions to lead SJSU to a 29-20 victory over Bowling Green in the Military Bowl. San Jose State finished 21st in the final BCS rankings.

The decision

You really can’t go wrong by saying either Carr or Fales will be the best quarterback in the Mountain West in the 2013 season. Both will have inexperienced running backs helping them out. Carr is recovering from a hernia. Fales has to learn a new offensive system as former SJSU head coach Mike McIntyre (who left to become the head coach at Colorado University) was replaced by Ron Caragher.

The decision here goes to Fales. The tiebreaker, in this reporter’s eyes, was the relative strength of schedule for Fresno State and San Jose State. Fales and the Spartans won 11 games with the 75th-toughest schedule in college football last season. Carr and the Bulldogs won nine games with the 84th-toughest schedule in 2012.

The best part about this debate is that in can be decided on the playing field when Fresno State plays at San Jose State this upcoming season.