Is 2013 The Year Of The QB In MAC?
By Clyde Hughes
Quarterback is the spotlight position on any football team. A good quarterback can make teams look better than the talent around him. A subpar quarterback can make a talented team struggle.
Each conference will have a small handful of quarterbacks that will lead their teams to unexpected heights. The Mid-American Conference may be blessed with a solid group of signal callers that will keep fans cheering and make for some dramatic conference competition.
Here are five MAC quarterbacks you should watch come late August and the games in which they need to perform well to catch the attention of football fans outside of MAC Nation.
Jordan Lynch, Northern Illinois
2012 statistics: 237-of-394 (61 percent), 3,317 yards, 25 TDs, 144.9 Passer Eff., 294 rushes for 1,815 yards (129.6 yards per game), 19 TDs.
Show Me What You’ve Got Game: Sept. 28 at Purdue
If Lynch had just passed for more than 3,000 in a season or just rushed for more than 1,800 yards in 2012, it would have been enough for high praise. To do both in the same season is almost unheard of and is the reason he will be on most preseason Heisman lists. He does have some image repairing to do after the Discover Orange Bowl, which is the reason his performance against Iowa and Purdue are so critical. Fair or unfair, Lynch will be treated seriously as a Heisman contender based on those games more than anything he does in the MAC. The Huskies lost to Iowa last year, so that game will be viewed as a measuring stick contest. The game at Purdue has particular intrigue because former Kent State coach Darrell Hazell will lead the Boilermakers. Northern Illinois beat Kent State in two overtimes last year in the MAC championship game. You will hear that storyline a lot.
Keith Wenning, Ball State
2012 statistics: 301-of-460 (65.4 percent), 3,095 yards, 24 TDs, 134.8 Passer Eff.
Show Me What You’ve Got Game: Oct. 5 at Virginia
The only reason Wenning was second-team All-MAC in 2012 was because he had to contend with Lynch’s gaudy numbers. Wenning, though, was impressive, averaging 257.9 yards a game. He has thrown for 7,254 yards in his career at Ball State, second in school history. His 716 career completions and 57 touchdown passes are also second-most in school history. Add to the fact that he has several All-MAC performers returning at tight end and wide receiver, and it’s easy to see why Wenning will have an opportunity to make some heads turn in 2012. His big non-conference tilt against Virginia will be particularly interesting because it presents one of those classic trap games. Ball State will be coming off of a huge home contest against Toledo. Regardless of that outcome, the Cardinals will have to forget about it quickly to battle a solid ACC opponent. It will be strong test of Wenning’s leadership.
Tyler Tettleton, Ohio
2012 statistics: 228-of-367 (62.1 percent), 2,844 yards, 18 TDs, 141.2 Passer Eff..
Show Me What You’ve Got Game: Aug. 31 at Louisville
Tettleton can almost be overlooked with the burly Beau Blankenship in his backfield, but the Ohio signal caller had only four interceptions in 367 attempts last season, the fewest of any of the top returning MAC quarterbacks. His steady hand helped in Ohio’s 24-14 victory over Penn State last year. That’s the same Penn State team that went on to an 8-4 record and a second-place finish in the Leaders Division of the Big Ten. If Tettleton wants to make a nationwide statement, he’ll get his chance in the season opener at Louisville. The Cardinals feature their own Heisman candidate in quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.
Terrance Owens, Toledo
2012 statistics: 215-of-250 (61.4 percent), 2,707 yards, 14 TDs, 135.0 Passer Eff.
Show Me What You’ve Got Game: Aug. 31 at Florida
Like Tettleton, a strong running game will help Owens. First-team All-MAC selection David Fluellen runs downhill for the Rockets. Owens is fleet of foot as well, rushing for 395 yards last season, second-best on the team. Owens attended high school at Cleveland Glenville, the same place that produced Heisman Trophy winner Troy Smith and Carolina Panthers wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr. Owens, though, will have to cut down on the interceptions to be successful. He threw eight interceptions last season.
Matt Schilz, Bowling Green
2012 statistics: 228-of-413 (55.2 percent), 2,585 yards, 14 TDs, 113.2 Passer Eff.
Show Me What You’ve Got Game: Sept. 11 at Indiana
Schilz has the biggest upside in this group. Along with a home game against Tulsa, Bowling Green will travel to Indiana and then look toward its big tilt Oct. 12 at Mississippi State. Schilz has shown signs of stardom, like the time he threw for 355 yards against Kent State. He passed for more than 200 yards seven times in 2012. With the emergence of wide receiver Chris Gallon, who led the team in receiving as a freshman last year, and senior wideout Shaun Joplin, Schilz is poised for a breakout year.
Should I have mentioned another quarterback? Tell me about it in the comments section.