Written by Sammy Jacobs (@Hoosier_Huddle)
We are closing in on the final opposing unit rankings of the 2019 pre-season. Today we are taking a look at the quarterbacks that IU is going to face on their journey through the 2019 schedule. There will be some familiar faces, but many new players will take snaps against the Hoosiers.
1. Michigan- Shea Patterson returns for the Wolverines after leading them to 10 wins and throwing for 2,600 yards and 22 touchdowns to just seven interceptions. He’s the Big Ten’s returning leader in passing efficacy and with a new, modern offensive coordinator, he should blow past those numbers. The system Michigan runs this year will be more suited to the strengths of Patterson and allow him to be more comfortable. Behind Patterson is sophomore Dylan McCaffery who played in six games last year. He got his feet wet throwing for 126 yards and two scores as he connected on 8-of-15 passes.
2. Nebraska- There are high expectations in Lincoln this year and they are centered around their sophomore quarterback Adrian Martinez. Nebraska was a different team when Martinez was healthy and he should be able to top a really good freshman year. There are plenty of weapons for him to utilize and his numbers should be much better than his 2,617 yards and 17 touchdowns passing last season. Martinez can also do damage with his legs.
3. Ohio State- The Buckeyes will have to replace Dwayne Haskins after he left Ohio State as the best quarterback in the conference. Ohio State brought in Justin Fields, a former five-star recruit, from Georgia. He is immediately eligible and ready to go. The big question is what should we expect out of him. Fields never really saw the field in Athens unless it was out of the wildcat. Can he live up to the hype?
4. Michigan State- The Spartans offense was dreadful last year after there were high expectations surrounding Brian Lewerke. He finished with more interceptions (11) than touchdowns (8) and only 2,040 yards passing as he dealt with injuries. Lewerke needs a bounce back year for Michigan State to be a challenger for the Big Ten East. Any kind of improvement coupled with an elite defense could make the Spartans real tough.
5. Penn State- Trace McSorely was a great college quarterback and will be missed at Penn State. His backup, Tommy Stevens grad transferred to Mississippi State. That leaves redshirt sophomore Sean Clifford at the helm of the Nittany Lion offense. Clifford saw action in four games last year. However, he threw just seven passes, including a 95-yard touchdown in a win against Kent State. Clifford has a big arm, but in the spring showed he can make plays with his legs as well.
6. Purdue- The Boilermakers are hoping that redshirt junior Elijah Sindelar can stay healthy in 2019 after tearing his ACL late in the 2017 season, he did play through it, and being limited to just 44 passes last year. He did receive a medical redshirt. Sindelar has a huge arm, but does not have the mobility that Blough had, which could be a problem behind a rebuilding line. Sindelar also has issues turning the ball over. He threw three interceptions last year and has 13 for his career. If Sindelar struggles with injuries or turnovers again, Purdue has redshirt freshman Jack Plummer waiting for a shot.
7. Maryland- The Terrapins have had awful injury luck at the quarterback position the last few years. This year they hope that former Virginia Tech quarterback Joshua Jackson can stabilize that position. Jackson has had his own injury issues as he missed most of last year with a broken leg. Should he be healthy, Jackson gives Maryland a proven passer who can run, instead of a runner who can throw. Tyrell Pigrome will back him up and if it weren’t for his own injuries the las few seasons would have been the full-time starter.
8. Northwestern- The Wildcats lost Clayton Thorson who threw for over 3,000 yards in 2018 and led Northwestern to a nine-win season. This year they bring in former five-star and Clemson back-up quarterback Hunter Johnson. On paper, the Wildcats should be higher than eighth, but game experience counts for something. Johnson has completed 21-of-27 passes for 234 yards and two touchdowns in his career, but it is yet to be seen what he could do as the full-time starter. TJ Green is an experienced back up and could step up in a pinch.
9. Ball State- Riley Neal moved on to Vanderbilt, but Ball State has a capable replacement in Drew Plitt. Plitt threw for over 1,000 yards in relief of Neal in 2018. He completed 85-of-131 passes for 1,008 yards and six touchdowns. The downside, Plitt tossed eight interceptions. Texas A&M transfer Hank Hughes will back him up.
10. Eastern Illinois- The Panthers bring back two quarterbacks who put up some pretty solid numbers. Johnathan Brantley completed 65.1-percent of his passes for 2,016 yards and 14 interceptions. Brantley only threw two picks as well. Splitting time there is Harry Woodbery who was 121-of-210 for 1,374 yards and 13 touchdowns, but he did toss six interceptions. Hoosier fans should expect to see both play.
11. Rutgers- Chris Ash is on the hot seat and a lot of that was due to his decision to roll the dice early with Art Sitkowski who came to Rutgers with huge expectations. Sitkowski was downright awful as a true freshman. Sitkowski completed just 49.1-percent of his passes and threw 18 interceptions, yes 18, and only four touchdowns. It looks as if Ash will stick with the youngster again, however if he struggles Ash could be out and Texas Tech transfer McClane Carter could take over.
12. UConn- Marvin Washington will take over for David Pindell who tossed 19 touchdowns last year. There are two backups in Mike Beaudry who was a Division II All-American and redshirt freshman Steven Krajewski who could battle for reps as well.