C-USA's Top 5 Quarterbacks For 2013
By Dan Harralson
1. Rakeem Cato, Marshall: One of the reasons why Marshall has a realistic shot of winning the C-USA East? Quarterback play. The junior quarterback already has produced 6,200 passing yards along with 52 touchdowns through the air. Cato's 69.5 completion percentage (out of 584 attempts) allows Doc Holliday's Thundering Herd to keep running the fast-paced offense. The junior out of Miami put up nine games with 300-plus passing yards and three 400-plus games. Cato again will have his receivers and tight end coming back.
2. Shane Carden, ECU: The junior quarterback is another member of the 3,000-yard club. Carden put up 3,116 passing yards to go along with 23 touchdown's in essentially 11 games. Carden relieved then-starting quarterback Rio Johnson during Johnson's second game (3 INT) at South Carolina. Carden came in and threw for 140 yards and a touchdown and went 7-4 down the stretch, propelling the Pirates to the New Orleans Bowl. An astonishing stat: Carden produced a 65-percent completion rate in eight games last year with only one game below 50 percent (Southern Miss, 48.1 percent).
3. Cody Green, Tulsa: The former Nebraska quarterback replaced GJ Kinne effectively. Green, a senior who threw for 2,592 yards and 17 touchdowns last season, operates an offense that has probably the best offensive line in the conference. Tulsa also makes an impact with the running game, so Green's passing statistics are not inflated like some pass-happy offensive quarterbacks. The Dayton, Texas, native began the season with a two-touchdown, two-interception game in a loss to Iowa State. Green had revenge on the Cyclones in the Liberty Bowl and also led Tulsa to 11 wins within a 13-game stretch. The only losses were to Arkansas (19-15) and SMU (35-27).
4. Taylor McHargue, Rice: McHargue can run and throw the ball within the Wild Owl system that David Bailiff has implemented. The Cedar Park, Texas, quarterback threw for 2,209 yards last year (3,772 career yards) and ran for 667 (942 career). The senior quarterback led Rice to a 5-1 record down the stretch and an Armed Forces Bowl win against Air Force. The Owls bring back another stellar offensive line that will allow McHargue to continue to run and throw the ball to his potential.
5. Austin Brown/Jonathan Perry, UAB: Garrick McGee enters year number two on the Southside of Birmingham. McGee has two quarterbacks that will compete for the starting job during fall camp. Brown replaced Perry in the South Carolina game and saw most of the action until the season finale against UCF. Perry had a solid spring that saw him get accustomed with the offense, and his footwork has improved. Brown threw for 2,648 yards and 15 touchdowns in McGee's Arkansas-style offense, but also threw 12 interceptions. Not all the blame falls on Brown as the offensive line allowed him to be sacked 36 times. Perry is the career owner of 3,075 passing yards, 16 touchdowns, 355 rushing yards, and five rushing touchdowns. Nonetheless, year number two should be better for UAB's offense under Garrick McGee, with whomever runs it.