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San Jose State Football: Ranking 2022’s Opposing Quarterbacks
A Spartans rebound will depend in large part on how they contend with the quarterbacks on their schedule this fall.
Who could pose the most problems?
11. New Mexico State – Diego Pavia or Dino Maldonado
Maldonado looked significantly better against an average South Carolina State team than he did against Rocky Long’s New Mexico defense, which may explain why Pavia, an Albuquerque native fresh off of leading New Mexico Military Institute to a NJCAA national title, appears to have the inside track to the QB1 role. Though he only completed 56.8% of his throws at NMMI in 2021, he did account for 28 total touchdowns and 2,386 yards of total offense.
11. Portland State – Dante Chachere or Jaden Casey
Davis Alexander, one of the most prolific quarterbacks in Vikings history, leaves some big shoes for one of these two to fill. Chachere only played a little in 2021, appearing in six games and doing most of his damage as a runner (ten carries, 48 yards), while Casey, who transferred to PSU from Cal, only had occasion to throw three passes. It’s not so much a lack of dynamism as a lack of experience which holds them back here.
10. Western Michigan – Jack Salopek or Stone Hollenbach
Like Chachere and Casey, Salopek and Hollenbach are the likeliest candidates to replace the prolific Kaleb Eleby in Kalamazoo. The former was Eleby’s backup in 2021, throwing a grand total of five passes in two games, while Hollenbach transferred to the Broncos after originally walking on at Alabama. Inexperience could lead to an overall step backwards for WMU, but the program has a solid track record of figuring things out on offense, so you never know.
9. Nevada – Nate Cox or Shane Illingworth
The Spartans did solid work locking up Carson Strong , but they’re almost certainly glad that the Wolf Pack will be starting over at quarterback in 2022. Cox, of course, has only seen the field in five games over the past two years, but he’ll get a shot to build upon his first audition at last year’s Quick Lane Bowl against Illingworth, who’s averaged a healthy 7.8 yards per attempt in his young career and proved he knew how to step into a difficult situation when replacing an injured Spencer Sanders at Oklahoma State.
8. Wyoming – Andrew Peasley
Peasley’s brief stints on the field have, for the most part, been pretty erratic. In two separate appearances against San Jose State, he’s only completed 3-of-9 passes but did have 67 rushing yards in relief of Jordan Love back in 2018. Cowboys fans are hoping that he can be the consistent answer they’ve sought after for years now, but that remains to be seen.
7. Hawaii – Brayden Schager or Cammon Cooper
Schager had a few moments in his first stretch as a starter last year, helping the Warriors survive against Fresno State and moving the ball against New Mexico State at will, but will that be enough to turn him from “quarterback of the future” to “quarterback of the present”? He’ll still have to beat out Washington State transfer Cooper, who didn’t looked out of place in five appearances over the past two seasons.
6. San Diego State – Braxton Burmeister
On paper, Burmeister’s 2021 campaign wasn’t terribly impressive, but when you consider that he also dealt with injuries to his shoulder, ribs, and who knows what else, the ups and downs start to make a little more sense. His dual-threat capability is something that San Diego State hasn’t always had at its disposal, so the Spartans will need to be ready for anything when it comes to slowing down the Aztecs this fall.
5. UNLV – Cameron Friel or Doug Brumfield or Harrison Bailey
Bailey’s arrival from Tennessee seems to have gone largely unnoticed outside of Las Vegas, but national prognosticators seem more and more to think he’ll win the starting job over Friel, last year’s Mountain West freshman of the year, and Brumfield, who actually got the first crack at being QB1 in 2021 after Justin Rogers struggled in the opener against Eastern Washington. Right now, though, it could be anyone’s race.
4. Colorado State – Clay Millen
Millen was meant to be Carson Strong’s heir apparent at Nevada, but after Jay Norvell bolted for Fort Collins, he followed and now has the much easier task of trying to best what Todd Centeio did last fall. Oddly enough, though, Centeio’s performance against the Spartans in 2021 might have been his best overall game of the year.
3. Auburn – TJ Finley or Zach Calzada
If the pressure of underperforming in his first year on the Plains wasn’t intense enough for Bryan Harsin, now he faces the prospect of trying to take a step forward while also sorting through a quarterback battle. Finley had previously seen starting time at LSU before transferring to Auburn last year, where he split time with Bo Nix and had an inconsistent year (54.7% completion rate, 6.5 yards per attempt, six touchdowns and one interception in nine games).
Calzada, meanwhile, steps into a situation that is only a little different from the one into which he was thrust at Texas A&M in 2021. When starter Haynes King was lost for the year to injury, Calzada answered the bell and had an up-and-down campaign himself, finishing with a 56.1% completion rate, 2,185 passing yards, and 17 touchdowns with nine interceptions.
2. Utah State – Logan Bonner
Bonner didn’t have too much trouble throwing the ball at will against San Jose State in last year’s Aggies victory, tossing four touchdowns in a 31-point rout. That was just one strong performance among many in a banner year out in Logan
1. Fresno State – Jake Haener
The Valley Trophy rivalry got canceled in 2020, but Haener made reclaiming it look easy when he had perhaps the best game of his 2021 campaign against the Spartans (28-of-37, 348 yards, four touchdowns). For the most part, that was par for the course among he and the rest of the Bulldogs’ passing game.
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