A few weeks ago, I wasn’t so sure we would have a college football season. Now, I’m more than hopeful that college football will be played in some fashion. This makes me happy.
So let’s talk about quarterbacks.
The ideal quarterback is accurate, displays good decision-making, is quick on his feet, and has the speed and, of course, the arm strength.
There are three quarterbacks I believe possess some of these qualities and will benefit by transferring to new programs in 2020. The past three Heisman Trophy Sportsbooks were transfer quarterbacks, so perhaps we could see one of these players stun this season.
D’Eriq King – Transferring from Houston to Miami
Regular-Season Wins: OVER 8.5 (-145), UNDER 8.5 (+125)
Odds to Make 2021 College Football Playoff: +1600
Odds to Win ACC Coastal Division: +200
This kid is a cheat code, in every position. Did you know that he started out as a wide receiver back in 2016? He was even a punt and kickoff returner. Mid-2017, he made the jump to quarterback, with 2018 being his first and last full season at that position. What a fire of a season it was: 64 percent completion rate, 36 touchdowns to just six interceptions.
Then, four games into 2019, he opted to sit out the remainder of the year and take advantage of the NCAA’s four-game redshirt rule, but not before setting the new FBS record of 15 consecutive games with both a passing and rushing touchdown.
What to Look For:
During his 2018 breakout season, King was sixth in passing touchdowns, behind Dwayne Haskins, Tua Tagovailoa, Kyler Murray, Gardner Minshew and Will Grier. He was tied for 20th in rushing touchdowns in all of college football with 14, just 10 shy of the leader in a stat dominated by running backs. He has 50 passing and 28 rushing touchdowns in his career, showing that he is clearly a dual-threat quarterback with the capability of turning around a Miami offense.
The Canes ranked 103rd in the country in total offense, averaging just 348 yards per game. They produced 20 points or less in nine of their games. If King wants to have a stellar 2020 season, he might have to do so on the ground as Miami was a bottom-five team (127th) for quarterback protection.
One positive is that the Hurricanes will have a new offensive coordinator in Rhett Lashlee, who transformed a SMU offense that ranked 94th in total offense in 2018 into the No. 8 offense in 2019. Shane Buechele was a large factor in that turnaround but now Lashlee will have King to develop after also coaching WR James Proche, drafted by the Ravens, and RB Xavier Jones, drafted by the Rams.
Getting the offense to convert on third downs. They ranked last, LAST, in moving the chains on third downs. SMU ranked fifth. If King and Lashlee can find a rhythm together, Miami has the potential to be a much-improved unit and not lose to 6-5 teams as a 21-point favorite.
K.J. Costello – Transferring from Stanford to Mississippi State
Regular-Season Wins: OVER 6.5 (+150), UNDER 6.5 (-170)
I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest Costello fan but he could really become something with Mike Leach as head coach. Let’s not forget that Leach is the genius behind the “Air Raid” offense and comes into Mississippi State ranked seventh among active FBS head coaches in career wins. He has two conference championship titles, and a few coach of the year awards. In his first season at Washington State in 2012, the team ranked 92nd in total offense but was in the top 26 in five of the next seven seasons, including top-10 rankings in 2014 and 2019.
Costello had a solid 2018, completing 65 percent of his passes for over 3,500 yards, with 29 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He looked poised to have another good year in 2019 but injuries kept him off the field. Under Leach’s high-powered attack, he’ll have the opportunity to rebound and remind naysayers that he’s worth a look as a potential first-round pick.
What to Look For:
Costello enters the SEC having thrown for over 6,100 yards and 49 touchdowns in his career. When Gardner Minshew made the transfer to Washington State, he had just 3,487 passing yards and 24 touchdowns. Costello is more developed, more experienced, and could really showcase his talent this season if he can stay healthy. That could be tough, though. The Bulldogs ranked 98th in quarterback protection, allowing 31 sacks. That area could be improved with the addition of juco transfer Reed Buys to assist with that offensive line.
Getting this offense to flip the script from rush-heavy to becoming a passing threat. Last year, the Bulldogs ranked 111th in passing yards per game but 25th in rushing. In Costello’s career, he has just 96 rushing yards. Since Leach is the coach, I’m not doubting this will happen, though.
Jamie Newman – Transferring from Wake Forest to Georgia
Regular-Season Wins: OVER 10.5 (+175), UNDER 10.5 (-210)
Odds to Make 2021 College Football Playoff: +150
Odds to Win SEC East Division: -110
I am excited about this one. Newman is one of the great quarterbacks that no one really pays attention to because stud Trevor Lawrence overshadows the ACC. Newman has thrown for nearly 4,000 yards in his career with 35 touchdowns and has 821 rushing yards with 10 rushing touchdowns.
He could be a big-time playmaker for the Bulldogs because of his deep-passing ability, something Georgia had been missing. He’s also the only quarterback here who is listed on the Heisman Trophy Sportsbook odds, fifth at +1400 behind Justin Fields, Lawrence, Spencer Rattler and Sam Ehlinger.
According to Pro Football Focus, Newman ranks third among Power Five quarterbacks in deep ball percentage throw attempts, was effective under pressure, completing 48 percent of his throws, and was consistent with a quick release, completing 70 percent of his throws when the pass attempt was under 2.5 seconds.
What to Look For:
Of course, this will not be the same 12-2 Georgia team that Newman will be joining. Georgia lost three offensive linemen to the NFL, along with RB D’Andre Swift, TE Charlie Woerner and undrafted WR Lawrence Cager.
Georgia does, however, add new offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Todd Monken, who had success coaching in college before helping the Tampa Bay Buccaneers produce a potent offense in 2017 and 2018, ranking seventh and second respectively in total offense. He was with the Browns in 2019, but we can’t fault him for that. Now, he has a shot at making something of this Georgia team.
How will Georgia manage with the players lost? The offensive line has some holes and making the jump from the ACC to the SEC is pretty big as Newman will face a new caliber of defense. Being effective under pressure is something he’ll have to continue to do this year if he wants to impress.