Run Or Gun: Categorizing 2010 CFB's Dual Threat QBs
It used to be every college coach was looking for the next Dan Marino or Peyton Manning. You know the type. Big strapping, prototypical quarterbacks who can zip the football down the field.
Now if there is another Marino or Elway available, there’s still a place for guys like that. Just ask Ryan Mallett who found a home at Arkansas when Rich Rodriguez didn't see how he'd fit into his spread offense at Michigan.
But with the evolution of the spread and no-huddle offenses, along with the return of the triple option, dual threat quarterbacks are becoming more and more popular with many programs.
So now coaches are looking for the next Michael Vick, Pat White … or God forbid, Tim Tebow.
So here’s a look at 21 of the better dual-threat quarterbacks returning in 2010.
Boo Jackson, Ohio
2009 passing yards: 17-of-30, 194 yards, 1 touchdown
2009 rushing yards: 20 carries for 21 yards
Jackson played the first two games of the 2009 season with mixed results. He injured his shoulder and didn’t see any other action. He was more productive in 2008. Jackson completed 185-of-306 passes for 2,355 yards and 19 touchdowns for the Bobcats. He also rushed for 333 yards and two scores on 100 carries.
Jackson is a raw talent who has the skills to elude tacklers with his quickness, but his passing skills are average. He’s put up good numbers as a passer, but his mechanics are rough. Working in his favor are his leadership skills and his calm demeanor.
Weapon of choice: Pass first, but he could help his cause by running more often.
Jordan Jefferson, LSU
2009 passing yards: 182-of-296, 2,166 yards, 17 touchdowns
2009 rushing yards: 112 carries for 171 yards, 1 touchdown
Jefferson is back for his second full season as the main quarterback at LSU and he’s looking to improve on a good sophomore year. His running stats aren’t overly impressive, but Jefferson is easily the most agile quarterback in the SEC.
Facing some of the toughest defenses week in and week out in the SEC can take its toll on a quarterback. Jefferson can take a pounding, and his numbers have slipped against the top teams like Alabama, Florida and Penn State in a bowl game.
Weapon of choice: It’s his powerful arm, and that won’t change in 2010.
Dan Persa, Northwestern
2009 passing yards: 20-of-34, 224 yards, 2 touchdowns
2009 rushing yards: 49 carries for 167 yards, 0 touchdowns
Persa sat behind the multi-faceted Mike Kafka last season, but Persa may prove to be a versatile replacement. He lacks arm strength, but makes up for it by being extremely accurate and having great timing with his receivers.
Persa filled in for Kafka in a 34-14 loss to Penn State and a 17-10 win over Iowa. He completed 14-of-23 for 115 yards
Weapon of choice: Arm. Persa has a talented pool of receivers that should make his job easier.
Omar Clayton, UNLV
2009 passing yards: 196-of-326, 2,230 yards, 13 touchdowns
2009 rushing yards: 76 for 238 yards, 3 touchdowns
Clayton just looks like a running back playing quarterback, but he’s been injury prone throughout career with the Rebels. He has thrown for 4,742 career yards and has a talented group of receivers. One area of concern is turnovers as Clayton threw 12 interceptions last year.
His best outing in 2010 came in a 34-33 victory over Hawaii when Clayton completed 28-of-43 for 340 yards and three touchdowns. He may be asked to throw a little less under new coach Bobby Hauck, who prefers a more run-centric approach to offense and he’ll start tearing apart the spread offense that UNLV had been running.
Weapon of choice: The Rebels have some talented backs, so Clayton’s going to balance the offense with his arm.
Jake Locker, Washington
2009 passing yards: 230-of-395, 2,800 yards, 21 touchdowns
2009 rushing yards: 112 carries for 388 yards, 7 touchdowns
Locker enters 2010 as one of the nation’s top quarterbacks. His accuracy saw a dramatic improvement under Steve Sarkisian, and is likely one of the big reasons he decided to skip the millions of the NFL for his final season in Seattle.
While Locker has a powerful arm, he’s also one of the nation’s best dual-threat quarterbacks. Of course, a lot of his running early in his career was initiated by poor blocking and pitiful offensive schemes. He’s primed for a huge passing season in 2010, but he’ll still take off for a big run if the opportunity presents itself.
Weapon of choice: Pass, pass again and when all else fails pass. When Locker runs he gets beat up too much.
Tyrod Taylor, Virginia Tech
2009 passing yards: 136-of-243, 2,311 yards, 13 touchdowns
2009 rushing yards: 106 carries for 370 yards, 5 touchdowns
Taylor is an experienced leader, who has proven he can win. He led the Hokies to a 10-win season last year, which included a 37-14 victory over Tennessee in the Chick-fil-A Bowl.
Last year he became more adept at knowing when to run and when to throw. He also did a better job of scrambling behind his protection to get more time to pass in 2009. His best passing performance came in a win over Duke when Taylor completed 17-of-22 passes for 327 yards and two scores.
Weapon of choice: His feet. Yes, he’s an accomplished passer, but Taylor keeps drives alive with his running ability
Robert Griffin, Baylor
2009 passing yards: 45-of-69, 481 yards, 4 touchdowns
2009 rushing yards: 22 carries for 77 yards, 2 touchdowns
It’s not fair to evaluate Griffin on 2009. He tore the ACL in his right knee in the third game of the season. Now he must prove he’s back to full strength when the Bears open 2010 against Sam Houston State on Sept. 4.
Griffin’s 2,091 passing yards and 843 rushing yards in 2008 show his versatility and why many considered him the most athletic quarterback in the Big 12. Griffin is a dangerous passer, but his escapability is what makes him so dangerous.
Weapon of choice: Despite his great footwork, the Bears will go as far as Griffin’s arm can take them.
Ricky Dobbs, Navy
2009 passing yards: 56-of-105, 1,031 yards, 6 touchdowns
2009 rushing yards: 315 carries for 1,192 yards, 27 touchdowns
Dobbs is a typical Midshipmen quarterback—he can run the triple-option with ease—and he’s also the atypical Midshipmen quarterback—he has a strong, accurate arm. What was his most impressive feat of 2009? How about the fact he set an NCAA single-season record for rushing touchdowns by a quarterback with 27.
Dobbs ran for five touchdowns in a 35-17 victory over Delaware last year, while also racking up four scoring runs in wins over Western Kentucky and Rice. It’s also important to remind everyone of his gutsy performance (83 rushing yards and two touchdowns; 156 passing yards and two touchdowns) in a close season-opening loss at Ohio State.
Weapon of choice: When a quarterback runs it nearly three times as many times as he asked to pass it you better say his feet.
Zach Collaros, Cincinnati
2009 passing yards: 93-of-124, 1,434, 10 touchdowns
2009 rushing yards: 57 carries for 344 yards, 4 touchdowns
Collaros was one of the biggest surprises in the Big East last year when he filled in for an injured Tony Pike for four games. The Bearcats won all four, including two close victories over Connecticut (47-45) and West Virginia (24-21).
Collaros, who has never lost a game he has started in college or high school, may not be Pike, but he has a strong arm and better wheels. It’s very likely there will be no drop off at quarterback for new coach Butch Jones.
Weapon of choice: As dangerous as Collaros can be running the ball, he’ll need to be as accurate (75 percent) as he was last year to keep the Bearcats on top of the conference.
Tate Forcier, Michigan
2009 passing yards: 165-of-281, 2,050 yards, 13 touchdowns
2009 rushing yards: 118 carries for 240 yards, 3 touchdowns
Forcier won the starting job last year as a true freshman, but he’s not a lock to hold down the position in 2010. His accuracy hurt the Wolverines last year, not to mention his 10 interceptions. So ball protection is an area he needs to improve on if he wants to start and lead Michigan to its first winning season in three years.
His best performance was in a 38-34 victory over Notre Dame in the second game of the season. Forcier rushed for 70 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries, and 240 passing yards and two scores.
Weapon of choice: Forcier needs both to survive, and in Rich Rodriguez’ system running is important. But Forcier lacks the necessary to speed to be a game breaker, so he better count on his arm.
Denard Robinson, Michigan
2009 passing yards: 14-of-31, 188 yards, 2 touchdowns
2009 rushing yards: 69 carries for 351 yards, 5 touchdowns
Robinson may take over as the starting quarterback in Ann Arbor after an impressive spring. He’s the fastest player on the Michigan roster, and he has drawn comparisons to another favorite Rich Rodriguez quarterback (Pat White).
Robinson’s breakaway ability is what excites the Michigan fans (and the coaching) staff. He gained some necessary experience last year behind Tate Forcier. If he can cut back on the turnovers he could become a Wolverine legend.
Weapon of choice: He needs to become a better passer, but his running ability could really ignite the Wolverines offense this fall. Untied shoes or not, he’s a running quarterback first.
Austen Arnaud, Iowa State
2009 passing yards: 179-of-304, 2,017 yards, 15 touchdowns
2009 rushing yards: 147 carries for 561 yards, 8 touchdowns
It’s a year later and Arnaud should be more adept at running the Cyclones’ spread offense. Last year he turned it over a too much, but he was still a key part of Iowa State’s 7-6 campaign that included a 14-13 victory over Minnesota in the Insight Bowl.
In the bowl he played one of his most complete games as he went 19-for-26 for 216 yards and a touchdown. He did throw two interceptions, but he balanced that out with a solid running game (21 carries for 76 yards and a touchdown).
Weapon of choice: The pass. As talented as he is at running, Arnaud has some talented receivers and that should be his focus in 2010.
B.J. Daniels, South Florida
2009 passing yards: 122-of-227, 1,983 yards, 14 touchdowns
2009 rushing yards: 175 carries for 772 yards, 9 touchdowns
Daniels was not expected to play much for the Bulls last year, but following a season-ending knee injury to Matt Grothe he became the man. Daniels didn’t disappoint as he led the Bulls to a 17-7 upset of Florida State in his first start.
Now he’s the important cog in the Bulls’ offense, especially considering he’s the only player on the roster to take snap in college. He must improve on his passing efficiency (53.7) to be a real leader on offense.
Weapon of choice: He’s a dangerous runner and can beat you with his running ability, but new coach Skip Holtz is counting on Daniels to be a big-time passer.
Andy Dalton, TCU
2009 passing yards: 199-of-323, 2,756 yards, 23 touchdowns
2009 rushing yards: 116 for 512 yards, 3 touchdowns
Last year was Dalton’s breakout season and he was almost perfect except for a below-average performance against Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl loss.
By the end of the season Dalton will own all school passing records, and he’s a long shot to win the Heisman, but don’t count him out just yet. He has all of his top receivers back, so Dalton might really light it up this season.
Weapon of choice: His running ability is a nice diversion, but his passing ability is what gives TCU a shot at being undefeated again in 2010.
Diondre Borel, Utah State
2009 passing yards: 214-of-366, 2,885 yards, 17 touchdowns
2009 rushing yards: 173 carries for 458 yards, 6 touchdowns
Borel needs to improve his accuracy (58.5 percent), but he’s developed into one of the most complete quarterbacks in the Western Athletic Conference. His ability to scramble out of the pocket and avoid the rush ranks among the top five in the nation.
He showed how much he’s grown as a quarterback in a season-finale upset of Idaho (52-49) by throwing for 369 yards and four touchdowns.
Weapon of choice: He’s still a pass-first quarterback and that won’t change.
G.J. Kinne, Tulsa
2009 passing yards: 210-of-345, 2,732 yards, 22 touchdowns
2009 rushing yards: 150 carries for 399 yards, 5 touchdowns
Tulsa coach Todd Graham has to be excited about the possibilities of having Kinne return at quarterback, despite a down year for the Golden Hurricanes. Kinne is another of those no-huddle guys who understands exactly what he’s supposed to do for his team.
In 2009, he twice tossed four scoring passes in games, and also had two three-TD performances. In all, he accounted for more than 3,000 total yards and 27 touchdowns.
Weapon of choice: With his receiving corps it has to be his throwing arm.
Colin Kaepernick, Nevada
2009 passing yards: 166-of-282, 2,052 yards, 20 touchdowns
2009 rushing yards: 161 carries for 1,183 yards, 16 touchdowns
Kaepernick has great size and a strong arm to be a prototypical quarterback; however he really doesn’t have to throw that much for the Wolf Pack, which ranked No. 1 in the nation at 344.9 yards a game on the ground.
In a loss to Colorado State last year, Kaepernick threw 38 passes, but he also threw a mere 11 in a win against New Mexico State. His best rushing performance was a 230-yard showing in a 70-35 win over Idaho.
Weapon of choice: His feet. Kaepernick can count on his arm, but most times he doesn’t.
Jerrod Johnson, Texas A&M
2009 passing yards: 296-of-497, 3,579 yards, 30 touchdowns
2009 rushing yards: 145 carries for 506 yards, 8 touchdowns
Johnson has one of the strongest arms in the nation and throws a deep ball as well as anyone. He really caught the nation’s attention as he nearly led the Aggies to an upset of Texas in the season finale. In the 49-39 loss, Johnson completed 26-of-33 passes for 342 yards and four touchdowns. Oh, and he also rushed for 97 yards on 14 carries.
The talented Johnson is a legitimate Heisman candidate. He’ll likely rack up the stats, but he also produces some classic highlights that will play well with the voters. The biggest obstacle facing Johnson, and A&M, is an inexperienced offensive line.
Weapon of choice: Johnson could survive with whichever one he chooses, but his rocket arm is his best tool.
Joshua Nesbitt, Georgia Tech
2009 passing yards: 75-of-162, 1,701 yards, 10 touchdowns
2009 rushing yards: 279 carries for 1,037 yards, 18 touchdowns
Nesbitt is a three-year starter who knows how to run the Yellow Jackets’ offense to precision. He accounted for 28 touchdowns on the ground and through the air in 2009. He rushed for more than 100 yards three times last year, including a season-best 140 against Florida State.
Nesbitt is tough and knows what’s expected of him by his coach. He should return to form after sitting out the spring following ankle surgery as he remains the trigger-man for the Yellow Jackets’ offense.
Weapon of choice: Does he really have a choice in Paul Johnson’s double-slot option attack? Of course he doesn’t. Everything starts with his feet (and vision).
Dwight Dasher, Middle Tennessee
2009 passing yards: 219-of-399, 2,789 yards, 23 touchdowns
2009 rushing yards: 224 carries for 1,154 yards, 13 touchdowns
Dasher doesn’t have the size, and he doesn’t play at a big-name program, but he’s arguably the nation’s most exciting player that most people haven’t seen play. He led the Blue Raiders to a 10-3 record and second-place finish in the Sun Belt.
Dasher is the perfect person to be running Middle Tennessee no-huddle offense and he makes like miserable on opposing defenses. He’ll get a chance to show off his ability in a couple big non-conference games with Minnesota and at Georgia Tech.
Weapon of choice: He can burn you either way, but what makes Dasher so special is his ability to run out of trouble and make big plays with his feet.
Terrelle Pryor, Ohio State
2009 passing yards: 166-of-294, 2,087 yards, 18 touchdowns
2009 rushing yards: 162 carries for 779 yards, 7 touchdowns
Pryor arrived in Columbus with an enormous amount of pressure heaved onto his shoulders. He has shown signs of greatness, and at other times he looked like an inexperienced guy playing against opponents who were older and wiser.
But after his monster game in the Rose Bowl in January (266 passing yards and 72 rushing yards) in a 26-17 victory, Pryor enters 2010 as a legitimate Heisman candidate. If Pryor can harness his freakish skills the Buckeyes could be playing for a national title at the end of the season
Weapon of choice: He led the Buckeyes in rushing last season, but Pryor has to show more maturity as a thrower this season, and you can believe he’s worked hard this offseason to do just that.