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On this edition of Opinions, we tackle quarterbacks. Not literally. I’m more of an indoor boy. Specifically, we’re examining two Big 12 QBs. One is overrated and one is underrated.
Funny thing, rating who is overrated or underrated. You eliminate about half of the candidates by definition. For example, you can’t be overrated if you’re ranked dead last, and you can’t be underrated if you’re ranked first. And then there are guys like Jesse Ertz, who is in fact a person. Even Jesse Ertz’s own mother doesn’t have strong opinions on Jesse Ertz. If you listed all of the people who have ever existed, Jesse Ertz would likely appear somewhere on that list. And you can never take that away from him.
Most Overrated and Underrated Big 12 QBs
There are two clear candidates who absolutely fit the definition of either overrated or underrated.
In a league filled with good to great quarterback play, a newcomer has earned lots of hype. Kenny Hill transferred to TCU from Texas A&M and, after sitting out the 2015 season, is ready to lead the Horned Frogs offense. Without having taken a snap in the Big 12, some already have him ranked as the 3rd best signal caller in the league. He is not.
The last time we saw “Trill” on the field, he was part of an epic 59-0 drumming at the hands of Alabama. The last time we saw Hill at A&M, he was losing the battle for QB 1 to Kyle Allen. And his first headline at TCU was news of him narrowly beating out Foster Sawyer for the starting gig. So why is he expected to be a revelation in Fort Worth with a chance to lead the Horned Frogs to a Big 12 title?
His numbers from 2014 are admittedly impressive. Nearly a 67% completion rate, more than 2600 yards and 23 scores in only 8 games. Now ask yourself, why only 8 games? Because Hill was benched in favor of Allen after dropping 3 straight conference games, including the embarrassment at the hands of the Tide.
There are plenty of reasons why Kenny Hill should be a great QB at TCU, and no clear reason why he shouldn’t be. And yet, his history suggests there’s something that doesn’t show up in the box score. Thankfully, I don’t have to know what that is. I only have to say “overrated”.
But while Hill may not be everything you ever dreamed a quarterback could be, one Big 12 QB is actually pretty close.
Patrick Mahomes racked up Leachian numbers last season eclipsing 4600 yards while completing better than 63% of his passes and tossing 36 TDs. He also ran for nearly another 500 yards and 10 more scores. He’s the most athletic quarterback in the Big 12, and while athleticism alone doesn’t make a great QB, he’s really really athletic so it’s plenty for college.
Texas Tech was a middling 7-6 team last year, which included a pretty thorough beating by LSU in the Texas Bowl. You might wonder how Mahomes could be underrated if he can’t consistently win games for his team, but that would illustrate a severe lack of understanding of the team he’s playing for.
Texas Tech made the controversial choice not to field a defense in 2015, which surely came back to haunt them in at least a handful of games. Consider the Mahomes led offense piled up more than 50 points and still lost in two separate games. In only one of their six losses did the opponents manage less than 55 points. Will the defense, or the team as a whole be better this season? Optimistically yes. But the supporting cast on offense has almost assuredly gotten worse after the departure of DeAndre Washington and Jakeem Grant.
Mahomes, however, will be better. It will be hard to put up better numbers than he did a year ago, but I’m confident he’ll be improved at his position.
Now the fun part. He’s already considered the second best player at his position in the Big 12. How can he be underrated? — Baker Mayfield begins sad dancing — That’s right. All hail Pat Mahomes, the best QB in the conference.