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MAC QB1 Power Rankings: New #1 After Gabbert's Injury
Miami is now without Brett Gabbert, who was my QB1 in last week's rankings.
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#1 Dequan Finn - Toledo
Dequan Finn stats (season): 119/188 passing (63.3%), 1,425 yards (7.6 Y/A), 14 TD, 5 INT; 82 rush att., 472 yards (5.76 avg.), 5 rush TD
Much to his credit of being an effective dual-threat, Dequan Finn has consistently played up to the billing of “easily one of the best quarterbacks this conference has to offer.” He was 16/28 passing for two scores against Miami. Even though he and his Rockets scored nothing in the second half and left so much more to be desired on the scoreboard (sometimes common from this Toledo team), Finn absolutely deserves to be atop of this list. One, he’s been good enough to be up here for a long time. And two, unfortunately, Brett Gabbert suffered a season-ending injury in the Miami-Toledo game, and all of the other quarterbacks haven’t given a good enough fight to be higher up on this list.
#2 Kurtis Rourke - Ohio
Kurtis Rourke stats (season): 122/194 passing (62.9%), 1,343 yards (6.9 Y/A), 9 TD, 5 INT; 38 rush att., 184 yards (4.84 avg.), 2 rush TD
Obviously, the reason why Kurtis Rourke is having such a down year in 2023 is because of an elaborate sign-stealing plot working against the Bobcats, right?
Rourke obviously came into the season playing hurt, got hurt in the season, and is going to continue to play through any more pain he keeps inflicting this year. I don’t think he’s exactly playing behind an excellent O-line, and he’s at least been a consistent 60%+ passer in all of the MAC games he’s played in this year (including the NIU 4th-quarter stinker)
#3 Rocky Lombardi - Northern Illinois
Rocky Lombardi stats (season): 118/202 passing (58.4%), 1,360 yards (6.7 Y/A), 6 TD, 4 INT; 43 rush att., 12 yards (0.28 avg.), 3 rush TD
Rocky Lombardi’s been a 60%+ passer in each of the MAC games he’s played in, but I think he gets too much credit for his individual rushing game. Not that NIU’s asking him to be like any of the two-way QBs it rostered last decade, but he finished with negative rushing yards five times this season, twice against MAC teams. Something he should get much more credit for: he’s the only full-time starting QB to not throw an interception in MAC play (5 TD).
#4 Hayden Wolff - Western Michigan
Hayden Wolff stats (season): 73/106 passing (68.9%), 698 yards (6.6 Y/A), 4 TD, 2 INT; 18 rush att., 51 yards (2.83 avg.), 2 rush TD
Hayden Wolff finally got the starting nod to lead Western Michigan’s offense, and saw the toughest MAC defense he’ll see all year. He completed 71.4% of his passes for 290 yards, 1 touchdown and 1 interception, and had his best day rushing with 23 yards on 4 carries (5.8 avg.) and a score. Wolff is the MAC’s leader in completion percentage and has very quickly become my highest-ranked MAC QB to not already play in MAC championship game.
#6 Cole Snyder - Buffalo
Cole Snyder stats (season): 158/270 passing (58.5%), 1,532 yards (5.7 Y/A), 12 TD, 7 INT; 46 rush att., 39 yards (0.85 avg.), 1 rush TD
I don’t think Cole Snyder’s going to be the reason Buffalo wins many games this season. He completes some passes, but he doesn’t command drives as much as the skilled players around him do. In MAC play, Snyder is 62/114 passing for 599 yards (5.25 Y/A), 2 TD and 3 INT. He does have 12 passing TD to his name for the season, but 9 of them are front-loaded in the first three games of the year.
#7 Aveon Smith, since Brett Gabbert’s out for the year - Miami OH
Brett Gabbert stats (season): 111/187 passing (59.4%), 1634 yards (8.7 Y/A), 14 TD, 5 INT; 49 rush att., 140 yards (2.86 avg.), 2 rush TD
Aveon Smith stats (season): 4/12 passing (33.3%), 60 yards (5 Y/A), 0 TD, 0 INT; 8 rush att., 49 yards (6.1 avg.), 0 rush TD
Sucks to’ve seen Gabbert go down the way it does. Just two plays before his 2nd & goal run would be stopped short and ankle be rolled on, Gabbert fired a 4th & short pass in the red zone to pick up goal-to-go — a play Chuck Martin wouldn’t have let be called if it were any other QB he coached at Miami.
Just stinks, man.
The last time we saw Aveon Smith, he filled-in for Gabbert for most of the 2022 season and was a sub-50% passer on the year, but showed he had as much potential as anybody in the MAC to make big plays happen with his arms (1,299 pass yards, 11 TD) and legs (553 rush yards, 6 TD). If there’s any improvement in the completion rate, I don’t see why Smith won’t be able to win some games with the transferred-in talent around him on offense this year.
#8 Jase Bauer - Central Michigan
Jase Bauer stats (season): 115/197 passing (58.4%), 1,221 yards (6.2 Y/A), 5 TD, 6 INT; 70 rush att., 223 yards (3.19 avg.), 7 rush TD
Jase Bauer is coming off of his first MAC game where he didn’t throw an interception. But, it still resulted in a loss to six-loss Ball State on the road. Bauer’s not going to be a quarterback that wins games through the air, and CMU hasn’t exactly hid that fact. CMU runs the ball more than it passes and is not picking up enough explosives with its running backs as it should to make this style of offense work.
#9 Austin Smith - Eastern Michigan
Austin Smith stats (season): 108/190 passing (56.8%), 1,103 yards (5.8 Y/A), 6 TD, 5 INT; 74 rush att., 109 yards (1.47 avg.), 1 rush TD
Austin Smith has regressed from last year’s marks, which is a big concern for him. He showed some decent results in the first two MAC games, but over the last two games, Smith is 23/51 passing for 269 yards (5.3 Y/A), 1 touchdown against Kent State, and 2 interceptions at Northern Illinois; his season QBR has dipped from 121.7 last year to 110.8 this season.
#10 Kiael Kelly - Ball State
Kiael Kelly (season): 24/47 passing (51.1%), 234 yards (5 Y/A), 0 TD, 1 INT; 65 rush att., 343 yards (5.28 avg.), 2 rush TD
Kiael Kelly has a lot of potential to be a big QB for Ball State moving forward. He’s certainly not as good of a passer as Layne Hatcher is, but he’s a good enough runner to keep plays and drives alive longer. So far, at least. After he was 4/16 in his first start vs. Toleod, he was 13/16 against CMU. He threw one interception vs. Toledo, and rushed for two scores vs. CMU. Kelly’s still looking for his first career passing TD.
#10 Connor Bazelak or Camden Orth, doesn’t matter - Bowling Green
Camden Orth stats (season): 29/49 passing (59.2%), 305 yards (6.2 Y/A), 3 TD, 4 INT; 38 rush att., 133 yards (3.5 avg.), 2 rush TD
Connor Bazelak stats (season): 81/141 passing (57.4%), 890 yards (6.3 Y/A), 5 TD, 6 INT; 20 rush att., -34 yards (-1.7 avg.), 1 rush TD
Bowling Green had 10 players run the ball against Akron for a combined 214 yards on 42 attempts. Connor Bazelak was 6/11 passing (69 yards) and Camden Orth was 2/3 (14 yards). It was a super rainy day out, but a team with better QBs would’ve thrown the ball more than 14 times.
#11 Jeff Undercuffler - Akron
Jeff Undercuffler stats (season): 60/95 passing (63.2%), 598 yards (6.3 Y/A), 2 TD, 6 INT; 12 rush att., -116 yards (-6.9 avg.), 0 rush TD
This second-year Albany transfer isn’t playing in easy conditions. I’m not sure where in the bottom he should rank, but it’s hard to argue that he should slide above BGSU’s pair of QBs just because he threw for over 200 yards (2 picks, no scores) in a blowout loss to BGSU. Just wouldn’t make sense.
#12 Michael Alaimo - Kent State
Michael Alaimo stats (season): 79/144 passing (54.9%), 932 yards (6.5 Y/A), 2 TD, 4 INT; 58 rush att., -48 yards (-0.83 avg.), 1 rush TD
Tommy Ulatowski stats (season): 19/48 passing (39.6%), 208 yards (4.3 Y/A), 3 TD, 1 INT; 24 rush att., 99 yards (4.13 avg.), 0 rush TD
Kent State punted eight times against Buffalo. The longest drive this offense put together was 60 yards (9 plays), which finished with a field goal. The quarterbacking is hardly the first or the last problem with this offense. I almost feel bad for the Kent State fans who watched every Sean Lewis-coached game to watching this year’s team that hasn’t yet had 200 yards through the air in a single game.