Editor’s Note: Ranking players at a position is a subjective, uncertain proposition that’s sure to draw criticism. Rarely does a sportswriter get to take it and dish it out in a single sitting, but that’s what our Nick Bartlett and Jack Follman do here. Let’s listen in as the two debate their respective rankings and have some fun along the way. They start with Jack’s list and Nick’s questions before switching roles. (Look for future list rankings on the Great Debates page.)
Nick: Even though we both agree that Slovis and Daniels are one and two in the Conference, why did you give the nod to Slovis?
Jack: Slovis and Daniels, Slovis and Daniels…Well, funny story.
I initially had Daniels over Slovis and put it on Twitter and I got a ton of feedback on Slovis’ superiority to the point where I re-examined the situation and realized Slovis is much more consistent and polished to the point I have to give him the edge on second thought.
I think it’s very, very close, though, and I love how big Daniels was in the big moments in huge wins at Michigan State and against Oregon. I want to see more of that from Slovis in 2020.
Nick: What makes you think DTR is going to take a huge jump forward this year? I believe he’s a subpar quarterback.
Jack: I guess I think DTR is better than the general consensus seems to be. I definitely don’t think he’s a great quarterback, but I think he has his moments and when he’s on—like he was against WSU last year—he’s on.
I actually think where I put DTR says more about the uncertainty of the Conference’s quarterbacks after Slovis-Daniels-Garbers, at least in my opinion. I wouldn’t be surprised if guys like Cooper, Shough, and Sirmon end up overtaking him once the season starts, and they prove themselves.
Nick: Why did you drop Shough all the way down to nine? Was it because of his inexperience?
Jack: Definitely inexperience. It’s very possible Shough could be one of the top QBs by early in the season. However, I generally don’t preseason rank many players who haven’t played at all above ones who have on pure speculation, particularly with Shough, because there’s nothing to suggest he is an elite QB.
He wasn’t an elite recruit, and he hasn’t flashed anything in meaningful game time to suggest that either, so most of that smoke is just coming from the Oregon program and their fans.
Nick: Who will be the surprise quarterback of the Conference this year? My answer is going to be Tristan Gebbia.
Jack: My Wild card pick is Cammon Cooper, or whoever wins the WSU job. The past three Cougar QBs to win the job have turned into instant stars, and I don’t expect that to change under Nick Rolovich, who will be running a very similar system to Mike Leach.
Jack: You have Davis Mills over Chase Garbers. Funny, in my initial rankings I had that as well and got crucified by Cal fans and non-Cal fans alike, and I changed my rankings accordingly. What makes you give Mills the nod over Garbers?
Nick: I want to start with the fact that these two are virtually interchangeable, but there are a couple of reasons as to why I gave the nod to Mills.
Last season he finished the year with 1,960 passing yards, 11 touchdowns, and five interceptions, playing behind a desecrated offensive line. The Cardinal have re-tooled this unit which leads me to believe he’ll flourish with added, or “actual” protection in 2020. I also am unable to shake the fact that he was the No. 1 quarterback recruit in the 2017 class.
Jack: You have Bentley all the way down at 11. Do you think the grad transfer can’t do much to fill Tyler Huntley’s shoes and help Utah to another run at the Pac-12 title, or do you think he’s more of a band aid who might not actually win the job?
Nick: Even though I love the fact that Jake Bentley has tons of in-game experience from his days as a Gamecock, I don’t love that he has 26 interceptions in his two years as a starter.
The Utes rely on smash mouth, ball-control, down-and-distance football, which can be completely negated by turnovers. He’ll also be throwing to less athletic wideouts in Salt Lake City, which could place further pressure on him to read defenses. I think Utah would benefit by starting Cameron Rising. Bentley is definitely a band aid.
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