Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Dana Carvey All-Stars: Quarterbacks

To get you set for the coming season, over the next few days I'll be giving you a rundown of some of the more under-appreciated skill position players and head coaches in Division IA football. Like the above Carvey's hilarious eponymous show, these players and coaches often fly under the radar and could be all but forgotten ten years down the road. Impress your friends with your football knowledge or astound them with your toolishness by rattling off these names at your local sports pub. We'll begin with football's glamour position: quarterback. And before we dive in, here's a clip from The Dana Carvey Show.

Nate Davis, Ball State University

After throwing for nearly 2000 yards and 18 touchdowns as a true freshman, Nate Davis seeks to continue the MAC's recent tradition of producing stellar quarterbacks (Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Gradkowski, Charlie Batch, Joshua Cribbs, Josh Harris, Omar Jacobs, Charlie Frye, and Josh Betts to name a few). Davis finished 17th nationally in passing efficiency and was a stud from day one, throwing 3 touchdown passes in only 8 attempts in his first college game against Eastern Michigan. Davis even acquitted himself well against mighty Michigan, throwing for 250 yards and posting a solid quarterback rating of 118.54 against a Michigan defense that held opponents to an average rating of 111.95. The only red flag is Davis' completion percentage, which dropped substantially in his last five games (51.2%) after a stellar first seven (71.7%).

Justin Willis, Southern Methodist University

As a redshirt Freshman last season, Justin Willis finished 10th in the NCAA in passing efficiency. He also set the school record for single game completion percentage (hitting 18 of 19 passes against Sam Houston State). He completed over 67% of his passes while throwing 26 touchdowns and only 6 interceptions. He also rushed for 354 yards and added 3 scores on the ground, helping SMU to their first non-losing season since 1997. With Willis at the helm, the Pony Express has a chance to matriculate to their first bowl game since 1984.

Chris Nickson, Vanderbilt University

After the departure of Jay Cutler following the 2005 season, you would have forgiven the Vanderbilt faithful for writing off any hope for a bowl bid for at least another 20 years or so. But quarterback Chris Nickson was not resigned to this fate. Still a touch unpolished as a passer (just under 55% completion percentage), Nickson is a dynamic threat in the backfield. As a sophomore with only 3 career passing attempts going into the 2006 season, Nickson promptly won the job and threw for over 2000 yards and 15 touchdowns. He complimented those stats by leading the team in rushing (694 yards) and helping the Commodores average 4.7 yards per rush as a team. With 18 total starters back (10 offense and 8 defense), Vanderbilt has a real shot at playing in a bowl game for the first time since 1982.

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